Tomato (or Love Apple)
Though only of recent introduction as a common vegetable in this
country, and though grown chiefly  under glass for the table in
England, yet the Tomato is so abundantly imported, and so
extensively used by all classes now-a-days throughout the British
Isles that it may fairly take consideration for whatever claims it can
advance as a curative Simple. Imported early in the present century
from South America it rem
ined for a while an exclusive luxury
produced for the rich like pine apples and melons. But gradually
since then the Tomato has steadily acquired an increasing
popularity, and now large crops of the profitable fruit are brought
from Bordeaux and the Channel Islands, to meet the demands of our
English markets. Much of the favour which has become attached to
this ruddy, polished, attractive-looking fruit is due to a widespread
impression that it is good for the liver, and a preventive of
biliousness. Nevertheless, rumours have also gone abroad that
habitual Tomato-eaters are especially liable to cancerous disease in
this, or that organ.
Belonging to the Solanums the Tomato (Lycopersicum) is a plant
of Mexican origin. Its brilliant fruit was first known as Mala
oethiopica, or the Apples of the Moors, and bearing the Italian
designation Pomi dei Mori. This name was presently corrupted in
the French to Pommes d'amour; and thence in English to the
epithet Love Apples, a perversion which shows by what curious
methods primary names may become incongruously changed. They
are also called Gold Apples from their bright yellow colour before
getting ripe. The term Lycopersicum signifies a wolf's peach,
because some parts of the plant are thought to excite animal
The best fruit is supposed to grow within sight, or smell of the sea.
It needs plenty of sunlight and heat. The quicker it is produced the
fewer will be the seeds discoverable in its pulp.
 Green when young, Tomatoes acquire a bright yellow hue
before reaching maturity, and when ripe they are smooth, shining,
furrowed, and of a handsome red.
Chemically this Love Apple contains citric and malic acids: and it
further possesses oxalic acid, or oxalate of potash, in common with
the Sorrel of our fields, and the Rhubarb of our kitchen gardens. On
which account each of this vegetable triad is ill suited for gouty
constitutions disposed to the formation of irritating oxalate of lime
in the blood. With such persons a single indulgence in Tomatoes,
particularly when eaten raw, may provoke a sharp attack of gout.
Otherwise there are special reasons for supposing the Tomato to be
a wholesome fruit of remarkable purifying value.
Dr. King Chambers classifies it among remedies against scurvy,
telling us that Tomatoes mixed with brown bread make a capital
sauce for costive persons. And the fruit owns a singular property in
connection with diseases of plants, suggesting its probable worth as
protective against bacterial germs, and microbes of disease in our
bodies when it is taken as food, or medicinally. If a Tomato shrub
be uprooted at the end of the summer, and allowed to wither on the
bough of a fruit tree, or if it be burnt beneath the fruit tree, it
will not only kill any blight which may be present, but will also
preserve the tree against any future invasion by blight. The hostility
thus evinced by the plant to low organisms is due to the presence of
sulphur, which the Tomato shrub largely contains, and which is
rendered up in an active state by decay, or by burning. Now
remembering that digestion likewise splits up the Tomato into its
chemical constituents, and releases its sulphur within us, we may
fairly assume that persons  who eat Tomatoes habitually are
likely to have a particular immunity from bacterial and putrefactive
Wherefore it is altogether improbable that Tomatoes will engender
cancer, which is essentially a disease of vitiated blood, and of
degenerate cell tissue. Possibly the old exploded doctrine of
signatures may have suggested, or started this accusation against the
maligned, though unguarded Tomato: for it cannot be denied the
guileless fruit bears a nodulated tumour-like appearance, whilst
showing, when cut, an aspect of red raw morbid fleshy structure
strangely resembling cancerous disease.
Vegetarians who eat Tomatoes constantly and freely claim that
cancer is a disease almost unknown among their ranks; but an
Italian doctor writing from Rome gives it as the experience of
himself and his medical brethren that cancer is as common in Italy
and Sicily among vegetarians as with mixed eaters. Most of our
American cousins, who are the enterprising fathers of this medicinal
fruit, persuade themselves that they are never in perfect health
except during the Tomato season. And with us the ruddy Solanum
has obtained a wide popularity not simply at table as a tasty cooling
sallet, or an appetising stew, but essentially as a supposed
antibilious purifier of the blood. When uncooked it contains a
notable quantity of Solanin, and it would be dangerous to let
animals drink water in which the plant had been boiled. The Staff of
the Cancer Hospital at Brompton have emphatically declared they
see no ground whatever for supposing that the eating of Tomatoes
predisposes to cancer.
Nevertheless some country people in the remote American States
attribute cancer to an excessively free use of the wild uncultivated
tomato as food.
 The first mention of this fruit by the London Horticultural
Society occurred in 1818.
Chemically in addition to the acids already named the Tomato
contains a volatile oil, a brown resinous extractive matter very
fragrant, a vegeto-mineral matter, muco-saccharin, some salts, and
in all probability an alkaloid. The whole plant smells unpleasantly,
and its juices when subjected to heat by the action of fire emit a
vapour so powerful as to provoke vertigo and vomiting.
The specific principles furnished by the Tomato will, when
concentrated, produce, if taken medicinally, effects very similar
to those brought about by taking mercurial salts, viz., an
ulcerative-state of the mouth, with a profuse flow of saliva, and
with excessive stimulation of the liver: peevishness also on the
following day, with a depressing backache in men, suggesting
paralysis, and with a profuse fluor albus in women. When given
in moderation as food, or as physic, the fruit will remedy
this chain of symptoms.
By reason of its efficacy in promoting an increased flow of bile if
judiciously taken, the Tomato bears the name in America of
Vegetable Mercury, and it has almost superseded calomel there as a
biliary medicinal provocative. Dr. Bennett declares the Tomato to
be the most useful and the least harmful of all known medicines for
correcting derangements of the liver. He prepares a chemical extract
of the fruit and plant which will, he feels assured, depose calomel
for the future.
Across the Atlantic an officinal tincture is made from the Tomato
for curative purposes by treating the apples, and the bruised fresh
plant with alcohol, and letting this stand for eight days before it
is filtered and strained.
A teaspoonful of the tincture is a sufficient dose with one or two
tablespoonfuls of cold water, three times in the day.
 The fluid extract made from the plant is curative of any
ulcerative soreness within the mouth, such as nurses' sore mouth, or
canker. It should be given internally, and applied locally to the
Spaniards and Italians eat Tomatoes with pepper and oil. We take
them as a salad, or stewed with butter, after slicing and stuffing
them with bread crumb, and a spice of garlic.
The green Tomato makes a good pickle, and in its unripe state is
esteemed an excellent sauce with rich roast pork, or goose. The fruit
when cooked no longer exercises active medicinal effects, as its
volatile principles have now become dispelled through heat.
By the late Mr. Shirley Hibberd, who was a good naturalist, it was
asserted with seeming veracity that the cannibal inhabitants of the
Fiji Islands hold in high repute a native Tomato which is named by
them the Solanum anthropophagorutm, and which they eat, par
excellence, with Cold Missionary. Nearer home a worthy dame
has been known with pious aspirations to enquire at the stationer's
for Foxe's book of To-Martyrs.
Chops and Tomato sauce were ordered from Mrs. Bardell, in
Pickwick's famous letter. Gentlemen! says Serjeant Buzfuz, in his
address to the jury, What does this mean? But he missed a point in
not going on to add--I need not tell you, gentlemen, the popular
name for the Tomato is love apple! Is it not manifest, therefore,
what the base deceiver intended?
A cucumber in early spring
Might please a sated Caesar,
Rapture asparagus can bring,
And dearer still green peas are:
Oh! far and wide, where mushrooms hide,
I'll search, as wide and far too
For watercress; but all their pride
Must stoop to thee,--Tomato!