Tomatoes are one of our most indispensable ingredients at the cookery school and seem to play a role in most of courses, spanning cultures and cuisines. For this reason we're making tomatoes the star of the show with these top tips and tasty recipes that make the most of this marvellous fruit (yes, tomatoes are a fruit, not a vegetable!).
The British tomato season runs from June to October which is a great opportunity to stock up, try some new recipes, and store the glut as passata (tomato sauce) which can be frozen in batches or made into a tomato chutney. Out of season tomatoes tend to be tasteless so to get your tomato fix in the colder months, use passata, tinned or dried tomatoes, which have more flavour and natural sweetness as they were picked at peak ripeness.
How to store tomatoes
Storing tomatoes in the fridge dulls their flavour and changes their texture. The problem is that unless you grow your own or buy locally, tomatoes will have been kept below 10C in transport and cold storage before they arrive at the store. Best to store them in a cool place or take them out of the fridge an hour before you plan to eat them in salads.
Our choice of fresh tomatoes
- Heritage tomatoes (known as heirloom tomatoes in the USA) are traditional varieties that have not been hybridised with a wonderful array of different colours shapes and flavour.
- Plum tomatoes either small or large have fewer seeds, more substantial flesh and an oval shape. They are good for pasta sauces. San Manzano is the king of Italian plum tomatoes
- Cherry tomatoes are small and tasty and great for salads and roasting on the vine. Piccolo is the ultimate cherry tomato.
- Green, unripe tomatoes are fantastic for chutney. Other green varieties are bred to be green when ripe, such as the Green Zebra which has a sharp tangy flavour and is great for salads. In Spain they make a great tapas with green tomatoes drenched in olive oil and topped with roasted salted almonds. Superb!
Our choice of preserved tomatoes:
- Tinned tomatoes are an invaluable store cupboard ingredient. If you don’t use the whole tin, decant into a bowl, cover with cling film and store in the fridge for a few days. Don’t store in the metal can.
- Passata, which is sieved tomatoes, is useful when you want to make a smooth sauce or soup.
- Tomato paste can be used to boost under-ripe tomatoes, flavour up tinned tomatoes and excellent for thickening sauces and enriching dishes and adding depth of colour and umami flavour.
- Sun-dried tomatoes in oil are another very useful store cupboard ingredient, use straight from the jar and add to pizza toppings and pasta sauces. Refrigerate after opening.
- Sun-dried tomatoes require rehydrating before using. Soak in boiling water to rehydrate. The soaking juice is very tasty too.
- Sun-kissed tomatoes are dried for less time than sun-dried and still moist and chewy, as they are not completely dried they perish easily so keep in the fridge and use up quickly.
Our Best Tomato Recipes
Experience tomatoes in all of their summer glory with these beautiful recipes:
Heritage Tomato and Lemon Verbena Salad
Tomato Keftedes (Greek tomato and feta fritters)
Find even more inspiration for seasonal tomatoes in Rachel's September 2017 column in Vegetarian Living magazine.
Delicious food photography by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures.
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