21/07/2012 10:04

Tomatoes- juicy, sweet and vibrant!

There are many varieties of tomato, each varying in size from the huge beefsteak to teeny cherry tomatoes.

Beefsteak ~ large, fat tomatoes, often they have a ribbed look to them. They have a meaty texture with a sweet, mellow flavour. They are ideal for stuffing with a couscous mix or rice, and baked.

Classic / Round ~ these are a traditional tomato and are a good all rounder.- grilling, frying, soups and sauces.

Cherry ~ Popular with kids because they are small and sweet, lovely to eat just as they are, you can do just about anything with them really-try roasting them, use in soups or toss them into the salad bowl.

Plum & Baby plum ~ Firm-fleshed, oval variety with fewer seeds than the standard toms, they are perfect for cooking. Use them sliced on pizzas, or try the baby plums in salads. Skin them and use to make pasta sauces, relishes and soups.

Green ~ there are two types of green tomato. One is unripe, and is quite tart, and very good for chutneys, or fried. The other is a variety that stays green when ripe and has a tangy flavour, good used in salads or fried.

Yellow ~ Small, golden yellow toms, taste much the same as their red cousins. Fantastic used in salads and salsas where their brilliant colour can be full appreciated.


** Since tomatoes are sensitive to cold, never store them in the fridge as the cold destroys their flavour and texture- store in a bowl at room temperature and out of direct exposure to sunlight.

Use your under-ripe, end-of-season tomatoes to make chutneys, relishes and pickles.

To peel tomatoes, make a cross in the skin on the bottom of each one, then plunge into boiling water for 15 seconds, remove and drop into cold water. The skins will peel off nicely.

It is especially important when cooking tomatoes to not use aluminum cookware since their high acid content will interact with the metal. - The problem with aluminum is it reacts with some types of foods, especially with those with alkaline or acidic components - aluminum particles might be leached into the food.

An easy recipe that you can make and eat within a couple of days. The recipe makes one jar, but if you want more then adjust the quantities. This relish is delicious served with burgers and hotdogs, also try it with a chunk of cheddar and crusty bread.

120g red onions, finely chopped
1 red chilli, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp onion seeds
1 tbsp olive oil
80g soft brown sugar
450g red tomatoes, chopped finely
80ml malt vinegar
1/2 tsp salt

Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion and chilli until the onions are soft.
Stir in the garlic and onion seeds. Add all the other ingredients and stir well. Bring to the boil, stirring continuously. Turn down the heat to a simmer and cook for 50 minutes to 1 hour. The mixture should be lovely and thick. Transfer to a sterilized screw top jar and leave for 24 hours before eating.

Or why not try a delicious Tomato soup. Or even a Sweet chutney, that goes great with a ploughmans lunch or a chunk of mature cheddar. You'll find the recipes for both in my cookbook.


 Try ROASTING whole cherry toms on the vine - In a hot oven with a little olive oil for about 10 mins, serve with just about anything you fancy.

For a nice fresh SALSA - Finely chop tomatoes, and combine with chopped spring onions, finely chopped chilli & garlic, add some chopped coriander, and a little lime juice. Great served with BBQ Foods and tortilla chips.

How about a tasty PASTA SAUCE - Halve the toms and put on a baking tray, along with wedges of onion and a few garlic cloves, add a few sprigs of thyme or oregano.- Bake in a hot oven for about 30 mins, until soft.- Blitz in a blender with a little olive oil to make a nice smooth sauce. Serve over your favourite pasta.

BBQ -them, Sprinkle, ripe halved tomatoes with olive oil, black pepper and a little Sea-salt. - Grill over med-hot coals, until lightly charred, but still firm- about 3 mins each side.


If you have lots of green tomatoes left over, never fear, as here are a few recipe ideas to turn them into a tasty dish.

Fried Green Tomatoes

4 medium green tomatoes.
2 eggs
90g plain flour
3 tbsp fine ground polenta (corn meal)
little milk
cooking oil
2 sprigs of thyme

Slice the tomatoes, thickly, put the eggs into a bowl and lightly whisk. Stir in 1-2 tbsp milk. Mix the flour and polenta together. Season with salt and pepper and add the leaves from the thyme sprigs, then tip out on to a large plate.

Press each side of tomato into the flour/polenta mix, then dip into the eggs, then back again into the flour/polenta, shake off any excess. Repeat with the rest of tomato slices.

Warm the oil in a frying pan, and add the tomatoes, cook until lightly coloured on both sides, around 4 -5 mins. Remove from pan and drain on some kitchen paper.

* Tip ~ Can also use breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan mixed together instead of the polenta.


Tip for freezing
The best way to prepare the 'fried green tomatoes' for the freezer, would be to slice and coat the tomatoes in the batter mixture.Then place them on to a baking sheet, and place the sheet into the freezer. When the tomatoes are frozen solid, place them into a freezer bag or freezer container. Then, when you need them, just remove the required amount from freezer (no need to thaw) and fry them in a little oil.



This is a lightly spiced chutney, very easy to make and goes great served with cold meats or nice chunk of mature cheese. - Makes about 1.4 kg (3lb)

1.4kg Green tomatoes, thinly sliced.
450g Cooking apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
225g Onions, finely chopped
225g Sultanas
225g Demerara sugar
2 tsp Salt
450ml Malt vinegar
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
1 tsp Mustard powder
small piece ginger, finely chopped.

Put all the ingredients into a large heavy - based pan and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat and gently simmer for around 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the ingredients are tender and has reduced to a thick consistency, and no excess liquid remains.

Spoon the mixture into sterilised and pre-heated jars and cover straight away with the lids.