Vegetable of the year 2022 : The tomato
The tomato is a fruit from the tomato plant (Solanum lycopersicum, synonym: Lycopersicon esculentum). The popular fruit is a culinary vegetable.
The ripe fruit is healthy, but this is in contrast to the rest of the plant, which is poisonous: the plant belongs to the genus nightshade. The toxin in this plant is called tomatine; it is a glycoalkaloid. The substance is produced by the plant as a defence against all kinds of pathogens and is also poisonous for humans. When the fruit ripens, the toxin disappears from it, making the fruit edible but also more susceptible to mould and bacteria.
Tomatoes are a significant source of umami flavor. The tomato is consumed in diverse ways, raw or cooked, in many dishes, sauces, salads, and drinks. While tomatoes are fruits—botanically classified as berries—they are commonly used as a vegetable ingredient or side dish.
Numerous varieties of the tomato plant are widely grown in temperate climates across the world, with greenhouses allowing for the production of tomatoes throughout all seasons of the year. Tomato plants typically grow to 1–3 meters in height. They are vines that have a weak stem that sprawls and typically needs support. Indeterminate tomato plants are perennials in their native habitat, but are cultivated as annuals. (Determinate, or bush, plants are annuals that stop growing at a certain height and produce a crop all at once.) The size of the tomato varies according to the cultivar, with a range of 1–10 cm (1⁄2–4 in) in width.