Tomatoes have become a staple in the store cupboard and feature in an endless range of recipes, whether you toss them chopped into a salad or layer them on crisp pastry to make a warm tart.
British tomatoes are at their peak in September and October so snap them up now for ultimate fresh flavour. Although canned tomatoes can be just as good as the real deal for making hearty stews and soups, don’t forget to make the most out of what is local.
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British-grown varieties include baby plum tomatoes and cocktail tomatoes such as Red Choice and Aranca. They are easy to grow in greenhouses or on a windowsill. Just make sure these little red fruits get enough sunshine to maintain that vibrant colour.
Alternatively, source your fruit fresh from a local farmers market. Go for firm tomatoes with wrinkle-free skins with a distinct smell.
They have the best flavour when ripened on the vine before being picked but, if you happen to buy them under-ripe, you can redden them by storing at room temperature.
Remember to never refrigerate a tomato. The cold environment causes the water in the tomato to expand which, in turn, ruins the texture.
However, it's not just that they taste great; tomatoes are rich in vitamin A and C which protect your immune system as the season's change.
And researchers have recently found an important connection between lycopene, the antioxidant properties found in tomatoes, and bone health. Get the most of these health benefits by roasting or grilling your tomatoes as the heat helps release the lycopene better into the body.
Try these tomato recipes for a tasty treat:
Roasted tomato basil soup
Vine-ripened tomato stuffed with couscous salad
Brie, tomato and cranberry tart
Tomato, asparagus and ricotta tart