Ranging in colour from vivid cherry red to bright yellow, in flavour from sweet and juicy to tangy and in size from tiny cherry varieties to plump beefsteak tomatoes, they are a versatile and popular ingredient. All types are now often sold on the vine as well. When buying, choose firm tomatoes with a bright unflawed skin, they should have a subtly sweet aroma.
Types of tomatoes widely available include:
The largest of the tomato varieties, these have a sweet dense red flesh. Ideal for stuffing, slicing or cooking with.
Vine Ripened Tomatoes
These are packed with flavour and mature further and keep better on the vine. With a distinctive tomato aroma they are delicious in salads or try them roasted on the vine.
These are much smaller than other tomato varieties and have a very intense sweet flavour. Delicious as a lunchbox snack, in salads or roasted.
Cherry Tomatoes on the Vine
The small cherry tomato with a more intense flavour and aroma. Try roasting them on the vine or on the barbecue.
A much more delicate flavour than the traditional cherry, very juicy and a lovely orange colour which looks great in salads or as a garnish.
Baby Plum Tomatoes
The most intensely sweet flavour and juicy flesh, with an elongated shape and deep colour. Ideal for salads or cooking they also make a great snack.
Midi Plum Tomatoes
Smallish plum tomatoes which have a sweet-sour flavour, they have a distinctive oval shape and have a very high flesh/seed ratio which makes them great for most cooking methods, from casseroles to barbecues.
These egg-shaped tomatoes have a meaty flesh and concentrated flavour, which makes them especially well-suited to cooking. They are available in various sizes including baby. Plum tomatoes are the most popular variety for canning.
How to Use
Tomatoes are served raw and cooked. Raw tomatoes are used in salads, pasta dishes, sandwiches and as a garnish for a wide variety of savoury dishes. Tomatoes are used widely in cooking and can be included in sauces, soups, stews, pies, quiches, pizzas, chutneys and pickles. Larger varieties of tomato can also be stuffed and baked. Skinned or seeded tomatoes are often used in cooking. Many fresh herbs go well with tomatoes but basil is the most popular choice. Garlic is also often included in tomato dishes.
How to Prepare
Wash tomatoes thoroughly. For salads, remove the stalk and slice or cut into quarters. To remove the skin, cut a cross in the skin of each tomato using a small, sharp knife. Place the tomatoes in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 30 seconds -1 minute and drain. Pull away the skin using your fingers. To remove the seeds, cut the tomatoes in half and scoop out the seeds using a teaspoon. Cut the tomatoes into quarters and remove any remaining seeds by scraping them out with a small, sharp knife. If stuffing larger tomatoes, slice off the top of the tomato and scoop out the flesh and seeds using a teaspoon, stuff with your chosen filling and replace the lid.
How to Cook
Tomatoes can be baked, fried or grilled. To bake, preheat the oven to 180C, gas mark 4. Place whole cherry tomatoes or tomato wedges in a roasting tin, drizzle with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and chopped garlic if desired, bake for 15-20 minutes or until tender. To fry tomatoes, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan and fry halved tomatoes for 3-6 minutes or until just tender. To grill, preheat the grill to high and cook halved tomatoes for 4-5 minutes.
How to Store
Tomatoes dislike the cold and storing at room temperature maximises their flavour. Keep in a cool dry place away from sources of heat or sunlight.