Two crops found to be in most corners of the world are tomatoes and peppers; in many forms and transformations used in several types of cuisines. Focusing on Sub Saharan Africa, a popular dish is STEW! The distinguishing factor is the level of spice which is dependent on the combination of pepper and tomato used. We’ll leave the #jollofwars to West Africa!
Is Tomato a type of Pepper, or Pepper a type of Tomato?
Essentially, tomatoes and peppers are not so far off, they are somewhat cousins as they both belong to the nightshade family; scientifically known as Solanaceae. The nightshade family has over 2,000 varieties of plants, but very few of them are edible! Within this family, tomatoes are Solanum whilst peppers, specifics bell peppers, are Capsicum.
The ancestral origin of each of the two crops contributes to their individuality. Tomatoes were first grown domestically by Native American residents of the Andes. Peppers’ history is more complex thanks to the various diversities and technicalities associated with the name “pepper.” It has two distinct ancestors; one diversity associated with Asia and the other with Central America and South America.
Another distinguishing feature is the level of spice associated with Capsicum. This spice comes from a lipophilic chemical that can produce a burning sensation in the mouth of the eater which is absent in most tomato species.
In a family, there are certain characteristics unique to its members, thereby, the other family members of tomato include eggplants and potatoes. On the other hand, peppers are the only members in their family with the differences being in size and spice. Yikes! This can explain why tomatoes and potatoes are in different families.
Even with these notable points, we cannot ignore the fact that tomatoes and peppers are structurally and visually similar, hence the easy mistaking of the two being in the same family. Both crops are also rich in Vitamin C which serves as a great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrient. Individually as well as jointly, these crops have great taste and add immense value to cooking and baking.
Have we enlightened you? Perhaps next time you cook with peppers or tomatoes, you can be more adventurous! 😁. If your want to see a #DidYouKnow series on other crops, let us know in the comments or via email email@example.com.
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Author: Iyanu Fred for @Farmz2U