Ripe red tomatoes are safe to consume raw. However, tomatoes that arenʼt ripe may contain the substance tomatidine, which in larger quantities can cause health problems such as nausea. When it comes to culinary uses, tomatoes are probably more versatile than most other fruits and vegetables. Read more to see for yourself.
From Wikipedia: “The tomato is the edible, red fruit of Solanum lycopersicum, commonly known as a tomato plant, which belongs to the nightshade family, Solanaceae.
The species originated in Central and South America. The Nahuatl (Aztec language) word tomatl gave rise to the Spanish word "tomate", from which the English word tomato originates.
Numerous varieties of tomato are widely grown in temperate climates across the world, with greenhouses allowing its production throughout the year and in cooler areas. The plants typically grow to 1–3 meters (3–10 ft) in height and have a weak stem that often sprawls over the ground and vines over other plants. It is a perennial in its native habitat, and grown as an annual in temperate climates. An average common tomato weighs approximately 100 grams (4 oz). ...
While tomatoes are botanically berry-type fruits, they are considered culinary vegetables, being ingredients of savory meals.”
“A tomato is 95% water, but also contains vitamins A, B1, B2, C, and E, phytonutrients, and minerals, in particular, potassium and trace elements. In addition to the vitamins listed above, tomatoes also contain biotin, folic acid, niacin, thiamine, pantothenic acid, alpha- and beta-carotene, potassium, chlorogenic acid, three valuable fruit acids, glycoalkaloids, glycoproteins, lignin, lutein, lycopene (only in red tomatoes), p-Coumaric acid, 10 trace elements (chromium), especially silicon, tyramine, and zeaxanthin ... Many active ingredients (flavonoids) are found in the skin of the tomato. The carotenoid lycopene gives tomatoes their red color, and lycopene, a carotenoid, has antioxidant effects, strengthens the immune system, and is believed to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.*”
“Hardly any other type of fruit or vegetable is as versatile as tomatoes. They are used both to prepare both cooked and raw foods.
The tomato is now grown and eaten around the world. It is used in diverse ways, including raw in salads, and processed into ketchup or tomato soup. Unripe green tomatoes can also be breaded and fried, used to make salsa, or pickled. Tomato juice is sold as a drink, and is used in cocktails such as the Bloody Mary.
Tomatoes are acidic, making them especially easy to preserve in home canning whole, in pieces, as tomato sauce or paste. The fruit is also preserved by drying, often in the sun, and sold either in bags or in jars with oil. ...
“It is important to note that the greens, stems, and green parts of the fruit are moderately toxic as they contain tomatidine (similar to solanine in potatoes). Eating the greens or unripe tomatoes can cause nausea and vomiting. However, there are tomato varieties that are naturally green. ... These are not believed to contain any more solanine than red tomatoes. ... *”
“Tomatoes keep best unwashed at room temperature and out of direct sunlight. It is not recommended to refrigerate them as this can harm the flavor. Tomatoes stored cold tend to lose their flavor permanently.
Storing stem down can prolong shelf life, as it may keep from rotting too quickly.
Tomatoes that are not yet ripe can be kept in a paper bag till ripening.”
“If possible, it is best to store tomatoes separately from other fruits and vegetables. They excrete ethylene which speeds up the metabolic processes of any fruits and vegetables nearby, causing them to ripen more quickly and as a result also spoil more quickly.*”
Note (italics): * = Translation from a German Wikipedia entry