Lifestyle Plant-based food

Tomato all year round

Eat in season food and enjoy tomato all year round

Last summer you probably ate a lot of delicious fresh red tomatoes. We hope so because tomato contains plenty of vitamins.

They are also full of other molecules that help us to prevent disease thanks to their antioxidant activity. The most famous of these substances is lycopene, a red pigment also found in guava, papaya, pink grapefruit, watermelon, and tomato.

You know what? Cooked tomatoes contain even more lycopene than fresh tomatoes!

Maybe you had the chance to be picking tomatoes directly from the plant of your kitchen garden, or you have been buying them at the local market. In all cases, as you know, tomato grows in summer, when cultivated the natural way.

Nowadays, you can find it all over the year. How can it be? During the cold seasons, tomatoes are grown in heated greenhouses, so the production of this summer fruit (yes, technically tomatoes are fruits!) is guaranteed all year round. 

When you go and by tomatoes during the winter season, pay attention to their origin. You are likely to notice that they come from places far from you. This has a negative impact to the environment, because heating greenhouses and transporting the tomatoes harvested far from when they have grown up, produces high levels of CO2, the gas responsible for global warming

In France, for example, the growing season of tomatoes is from May to October, depending on the region. If you want to be Earth friendly, you should eat in season and locally grown tomatoes. 

Tomato sauces

Fortunately, tomatoes do keep their health benefits even cooked, so you can enjoy tomatoes all over the year in the form of delicious tomato sauces! In fact, the best ripe tomatoes can be used to make passata tomato sauce during summer, which is their natural growing season!

The “passata” is the base to make a wide diversity of tomato sauces and can also be added in soups like minestrone, the italian vegetable soup.

From “passata” you can also make “soffritto” or sofrito sauce. It is a Mediterranean tomato-based sauce, made with tomatoes, garlic, and onions simmered in olive oil. It can also be added to other vegetables, herbs, spices, and a pinch of salt.

This sauce is one of the healthy components of the Mediterranean Diet. In fact, not only the cooked tomato has benefits on health thanks to its content in lycopene; all the ingredients together, cooked for at least one hour, enhance the activity of their bioactive compounds, that is mostly carotenoids and polyphenols.


Rinaldi de Alvarenga JF, Quifer-Rada P, Westrin V, Hurtado-Barroso S, Torrado-Prat X, Lamuela-Raventós RM. Mediterranean sofrito home-cooking technique enhances polyphenol content in tomato sauce. J Sci Food Agric. 2019 Nov;99(14):6535-6545. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.9934. Epub 2019 Aug 13. PMID: 31321777.

Rinaldi de Alvarenga JF, Tran C, Hurtado-Barroso S, Martinez-Huélamo M, Illan M, Lamuela-Raventos RM. Home cooking and ingredient synergism improve lycopene isomer production in Sofrito. Food Res Int. 2017 Sep;99(Pt 2):851-861. doi: 10.1016/j.foodres.2017.01.009. Epub 2017 Jan 11. PMID: 28847422.

Last updated: 1st of December 2020

About Valentina

Ciao, sono Valentina, consulente di strategia di comunicazione e ponte culturale. In questo blog, vi racconto la cultura cinese nella mia vita quotidiana, la "mia" Umbria, e come accogliere i vostri ospiti cinesi nel Cuore Verde d'Italia.