The delicious red fruit used to be one of Britain’s most beloved. But are you one of those who think tomatoes don’t taste quite as good as they used to? This may be because three quarters of the tomatoes bought in this country are now imported.
British Tomato Week has been set up to raise awareness of flavoursome British tomatoes, and help spread the word that when it comes to choosing the best, buying fresh, home-grown British tomatoes is a great place to start.
To celebrate British Tomato Week Lancaster London Hotel are offering a Tomato Week themed Afternoon Tea priced at £30 per person, which will include savoury delights made with the freshest British tomatoes, including Tomato bread, Tomato scones and Tomato sorbet. Looks yummy!
Island Grill restaurant on Hyde Park has created a special three course set menu, priced at £12.50 for two dishes or £15.50 for three courses.
However, like me, you might have some tomato plants on the windowsill or in a greenhouse. Many gardeners manage to grow them outside but up here in Cumbria the wind and lower temperatures mean indoors is the only option. I did try some outside last year but the plants were pretty much an unproductive experiment.
So this year I purchased two Ailsa Craig plants. Noted for the exceptional flavour of its fruit, which ripens early in the season this well known gardener’s favourite produces medium sized tomatoes with a uniform size and shape and an excellent deep colour.
Another popular tomato popular with gardeners and which has an RHS AGM*, Alicante, was available from a local nursery and I have placed both varieties in a glazed entry hall.
They are growing apace, in fact one Ailsa Craig has grown half an inch in 24 hours I noted this morning! I only know that because I marked the support strings yesterday just to see what rate of growth might be in the sunny and warm hall. I didn’t expect such a surge!
I have another three pots of a tomato Crimson Crush, a new entrant on the tomato market from Suttons in the conservatory that only has sun from about noon and I’ll be interested to see if there is any difference in growth rate. They are going into grow bags.
I know of course I may well be awash with tomatoes and there is a limit to how much time I want to spend bottling and making tomato puree, so much of the crop will go straight in the freezer in bags. To remove the skin easily I just dunk them in hot water, the skins slide off moreorless immediately.
If you are growing tomatoes let us know the variety and their progress … we will probably try different varieties next year.
Val Reynolds, Editor
*Award of Garden Merit
Here’s a simple recipe we picked up in British Tomato Week earlier this year using two of the most popular ingredients – Parmigiano Reggiano and Cherry Tomatoes
Pre-heat oven to 200 °C Cut puff pastry sheets into squares and spread with a little pesto sauce.
Divide cherry tomatoes between the tarts and sprinkle over Parmigiano Reggiano.
Brush the pastry edges with beaten egg and bake for 15 minutes.
To finish, top with pine nuts and bake again until the pastry is risen and crisp.
How’s that for speed? Suits me! And the result is so, so tasty! If it appeals to you the full recipe is below. It’s just one of many in a recipe book available
Other recipes: Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, known as ‘Parmesan’, is one of the world’s oldest and richest cheeses – still produced today as it was nine centuries ago. Totally natural – it’s the only cheese with an extensive maturation that improves the nutrition, aroma and taste. The use of raw milk and the richness of natural ingredients make this cheese a unique and superior product. It takes 16 litres of milk to produce one kilogram of cheese! The minimum maturation time for Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is 12 months, but only when it reaches approximately 24 months of age, is it at its best. As well as having fantastic nutritional qualities, it’s easy to digest and is high in calcium.
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) product. PDOs are defined and protected by European Union law in order to defend the reputation of regional foods. This mark ensures that Parmigiano Reggiano cheese can only be produced in designated areas of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna to the west of the Reno River and Mantua to the east of the Po River.
For more information on Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, please visit www.parmigianoreggiano.com
This recipe is so easy and quick it is a great lunch when you are really busy, or when the oven is cooking something else. Provides respite at Christmas as a respite from turkey!
Louise MacLaren, Guest cookery writer
The Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano
Photography and Reportage: Steve Lee
Recipe and Food Styling: Sue Ashworth