Whether you’re making a simple salad or a rich pasta sauce, it’s all about choosing the right tomato. The reward? Deliciously intense flavours.
Buy deeply coloured tomatoes that are firm and shiny. They should give of a sweet, woody scent. A healthy-looking stalk is another sign of freshness.
For optimum flavour, store tomatoes at room temperature. To speed up ripening, put in a paper bag with a banana, which emits a natural ripening gas.
Tomatoes have good umami, a Japanese word for the savoury taste you find in parmesan and soy sauce. To intensify their flavour, try them slow-cooked.
Mini San Marzano
With their rich, full-bodied flavour and natural sweetness, these meaty toms are considered the best for making tomato sauce.
Sweet vine ripened
Having been ripened on the vine, this larger tomato is as sweet as its smaller relatives. With its intense colour, strong aroma and lots of juice, it's a great choice for sauces and stews.
This finest* tomato is UK-grown and has juicy flesh and a sweet flavour. Its firm texture makes it great for packed lunches because it doesn't squash easily.
As well as bringing colour to a salad, this orange variety has a similar flavour to a cherry tomato. Use it in a bruschetta topping with a mix of other tomatoes, garlic and olives.
Grown in Kent and Cheshire, this traditional British tomato can be used in almost any dish, from soups and stews to salads and sauces.
As the name suggests, this small tomato, with its pointed tip, is very sweet – perfect for a snack or salad. It's also a good variety to encourage fussy children to try.
Meet the expert: Matthew Hill, Tesco Technical Manager for tomatoes
Tell us a little bit about your job
I’m responsible for all things tomato, from sourcing and growing, right through to the packaged product in store.
Where does Tesco source its fresh tomatoes?
At this time of year, a good percentage of our tomatoes are from British farms, although we do source from abroad, particularly specialist varieties.
Is it hard to grow tomatoes in the UK?
We grow them in temperature-controlled glasshouses to protect them from the elements. Our British suppliers, based in Essex, Cheshire, Hertfordshire and Kent, are all expert tomato growers. They monitor the crops digitally and can tell instantly if a plant needs more nitrogen or nitrates – it’s all very high-tech!
How are they harvested?
When the tomatoes are ripe, the farms call in a team to pick the tomatoes by hand. We have a colour chart that they refer to, so they select only the brightest as well as plumpest tomatoes for our customers.
What’s your favourite tomato?
That depends on whether I fancy a sweet snack or if I’m cooking. Baby plum, for example, are good for a picnic as you can eat them straight out of the punnet. But for, say, an Italian-inspired sauce, I like to use sweet vine ripened.
Embrace herbs this summer and turn them into this delicious Panzanella.
As featured in Tesco Magazine June 2015.