As we head into May, tomatoes start to come into season, ready for a full crop in June, so we thought we’d give you the lowdown on Britain’s favourite summer time ingredient.
Did you know that tomatoes are part of the nightshade family? They come from the same family of plants as peppers and chillis and as we’re sure you’ve learned from multiple pub quizzes are actually a fruit. Though we grow tomatoes here and they are one of the most popular garden grown ingredients, they actually originated in South America and didn’t come to Europe until the 19th century. These days, there are thousands of varieties, so though all tomatoes are easily recognisable, there are a couple of differences and each one has their own flavour and texture.
Some of the more popular tomatoes you’ll start to find this month include:
- A type of cherry tomato
- Good in salads
- Sweet but acidic
- Firm and aromatic, good for adding a bit of crunch
- The name comes from the glossy skin which has a pinkish hue
- These work really well in burgers or for the base of a salsa
- Subtle flavour so a good addition to a variety of dishes
Mini San Marzano
- A type of plum tomato that is great for snacking
- Have an intense flavour
- Great for making sauces, roasting and adding to the top of pizzas or pasta dishes
- Originated in Japan, they’re actually yellow!
- Have a very sweet taste
- Nice alongside herbs, onions and olives for a really summery taste sensation.
- Dense and flavourful, with a meaty texture and a mellow flavour
- The biggest tomatoes
- Great addition to sandwiches and burgers
Fresh and sundried tomatoes can be eaten raw, while those that come tinned or pureed will need to be cooked before eating.
When using tomatoes in your cooking, make sure to wash them and discard the leaves before use. You can then leave whole or cut as directed. You can even deseed them if you like, this is especially useful when making sauces or salsas.
If you’re heading to one of Dorset’s stores for some fresh tomatoes, make sure to go for firm tomatoes with no wrinkles. You can always buy them before they’re ripe and ripen them at home by leaving them in a paper bag on a windowsill – tomatoes always taste better right after they have been picked, so going for the youngest options will always yield the best flavours.
If you want your tomatoes to have the best flavour and texture, make sure you store them properly. Fresh tomatoes should be kept at room temperature, but they will keep a little longer in the fridge. Just make sure to let them warm up to room temperature for around half an hour before using them for the best flavour.