Tomatoes are an edible fruit, usually red in appearance, obtained from the tomato tree. There are many varieties of tomato in various shapes, sizes and flavors. They are eaten a variety of ways and are an ingredient in many foods and sauces. Although technically a fruit, the tomato is considered to be a vegetable for cooking purposes. Today, the many different varieties of tomato are widely grown throughout the world and the largest tomato producer is China at over 45 million tonnes. If you have wondered where the modern tomato originated from, keep reading to find out.
Where did the tomato originate from?
Tomatoes originated from South America. The first tomato plant is believed to have originated in the highlands of Peru where it was transported to Mexico and domesticated by 500 BC. The first type of domesticated tomato was probably a small yellow variety grown by the Aztecs. The name comes from the Nahuatl word tomatl, which means the swelling fruit.
The tomato was spread to the Caribbean, Philippines, Asia and Europe by the Spanish. It is thought that the Spanish explorer Cortés was the first to transfer the tomato to Europe, but Christopher Columbus may have carried a plant to Europe even earlier. They were very popular in Europe and eventually became an important part of many European cuisines. Today, the tomato is grown on every continent of Earth, apart from Antarctica.