Italian Ice Tomatoes
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|Food Buzz: History of Tomatoes|
The Italian Ice tomato is small and perfectly round, averaging one inch in diameter and weighing one ounce. It is unique in that it ripens from a green to lemony-white color when fully mature. The fruits with more sun exposure develop a more yellow-toned skin, while those that ripen in the shade keep a white color. Its flesh is juicy and its flavor is sugary sweet with low to moderate acid levels. The high-yielding indeterminate, or vining, plant continues to grow, set fruit, and ripen throughout the season until killed by frost, producing clusters of snack-sized fruits along vines up to five or six feet long with serrated or ruffled leaves.
Italia Ice tomatoes are available in the summer and fall.
Italian Ice is a hybrid variety of cherry tomato that is botanically classified as Lycopersicon esculentum, formerly Solanum lycopersicum. Tomatoes are categorized in subgroups that represent variations observed within the tomato species, referred to heir cultivar, a botanical term that is a contraction of the two-word term cultivated variety, and is equivalent to what growers simply call a “variety.” Therefore, Cherry tomato varieties are more specifically called Lycopersicon esculentum var. cerasiforme.
Tomatoes are widely known for their outstanding antioxidant content, particularly lycopene. Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamins A and C and folic acid, and they also contain good amounts of fiber, carbohydrate, potassium, and iron.
The mellow, fruity flavor of Italian Ice tomatoes is perfect for fresh eating. Try chilling a bowl of the tiny tomatoes for a satisfying, portable, and refreshing snack. As well as using fresh in salads, cherry tomatoes can be used raw in cooked pasta dishes along with fresh basil, or used to make a delicious and unique sauce or jam. Tomatoes pair well with soft cheeses and savory herbs, but can also be blended with more sweet-style herbs, such as mint. Store tomatoes at room temperature away from direct sunlight until ripe and ready to use. Refrigerate only extra-ripe tomatoes to prevent them from ripening any further.
Cherry tomatoes were the first tomato species to be domesticated, their fruits the size of berries and their flesh originally housing only two seed cavities. They are descendants of the wild tomato, which traces back millions of years to coastal South America, though archeological evidence suggests that cherry tomatoes were first cultivated further north in Central America by the Aztecs and Incas as early as 700 AD. The tomato was introduced to Spain in the 16th century by the conquistadors, and lateread throughout Europe. However, it wasn’t until the mid 1800’s that the tomato became a staple in the United States, although some Native American tribes and the Creoles of New Orleans already had a long history of its use.
It is suspected that the Italian Ice tomato originated in Mexico. This variety is said to grow particularly well in USDA hardiness zones 3-9. Sun isn't necessary for ripening, only warmth. Consequently, the fruits will ripen even in the dense shade in the middle of a plant. Tomatoes are not hardy cultivars and they can't stand any frost, so it is critical that they be planted only after danger of frost has passed.