History of the tomato.
It is widely believed that the tomato, Lycopersicon exculentum, was first domesticated by the Aztecs in Mexico, where a variant of the wild cherry tomato was brought into cultivation by 500 BC.
Europeans were introduced to the tomato in the late 15th century to early to mid-16th century, and generally reacted with fear and scorn, due largely to the tomato’s membership in the family Solanacea, which includes many poisonous species such as the deadly nightshade.
The Italians, however, soon embraced the tomato, dubbing it pomi d’oro (golden apple) and adopting it into their cuisine. The French gave this new fruit an even more romantic name: pomme d’amour (love apple).
Still, it was not until the 1830s that the tomato was much more than a curiosity in England or America. Although chefs in New Orleans were commonly using the tomato by 1800, it took until the 1830s for it to catch on in New England.
Within a decade the tomato became widely recognized for its nutritional value, and even attributed medicinal qualities which it probably did not deserve.
Tomato processing began in 1847, when Harrison Woodhull Crosby, the chief gardener at Lafayette College developed a crude method of canning tomatoes. Prior to 1890 all tomato canning was done by hand.
In the 19th century, with southern Italy, especially Naples, again leading the way, comes pasta al pomodoro, along with the pizza Margherita.
Industry techniques improved with canning technology, and tomato juice came on the market with the development of the juice extractor in the 1920s.
In the late 1960s, mechanical harvesting became a reality, which drove the industry to develop better techniques of bulk handling and processing.
Today, the tomato is known as the pomodoro in Italy, as the tomate in France, Germany, and Spain, and the tomaat in Holland. The United States produces between 10 – 12 million tons of processing tomatoes every year, with California processing over 96% of the total.