Lovely and juicy in a sandwich or salad, beautiful on a pizza and the perfect accompaniment to a classic fry-up, tomatoes are incredibly tasty and versatile.
This week (from Tuesday May 22nd until Monday May 28th), the nation is celebrating its love of the humble tomato with British Tomato Week, supported by the Tomato Growers' Association.
If you're not already au fait with growing the fruit yourself, this is the ideal time to learn how, and it's also an excellent opportunity to acquaint yourself with some new tomato-based recipes. And if you're so impressed with that gorgeous fresh tomato aroma that ends up filling your house, the Heyland & Whittle team might just have a trick up our sleeve to make it a permanent aroma in your home.
Tomato-growing top tips
Little red tomatoes look gorgeous growing on a vine in your garden, and it's wonderfully satisfying to cook with ingredients that you've grown yourself. You know exactly what's in a salad if it's come straight from your garden, making it all the more beautifully fresh and wholesome.
Tomatoes love warmth, so it's important to plant them in a spot that gets plenty of sunlight and isn't too shaded; if you have a greenhouse, that's even better. Make sure to space each tomato plant out a little too, as you don't want them to end up overcrowded.
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Water your tomatoes regularly so they have access to plenty of water and nutrients from the soil, and think about how you're going to support your plants as they grow. You don't want them to be weighed down by their own fruit, so tie them to a trellis or prop them up with canes where you can for the best possible results.
Remember, if you're planning to plant tomatoes in your garden again in the future, change the location, or their growth could be hampered.
Creative cooking with tomatoes
Homemade tomato sauce for pasta or pizzas, refreshing yet zingy salsa, comforting soup and beautiful tomato, basil and mozzarella salads are just a few classic ideas for using up your crop of home-grown tomatoes.
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If you've had a particularly successful tomato harvest, you may find yourself with more tomatoes than ideas, so think outside the box a little. How about making a tomato chutney to take cheese sandwiches to a whole new level, or even to serve alongside a homemade curry?
To make your own tomato chutney, you'll need around one kilogram of tomatoes, which should be placed in a pan with chopped onion, a red chilli, approximately 150 millilitres of red wine vinegar and your choice of seasoning - something smoky like paprika would work brilliantly. Simmer for around an hour, until you've got a chutney-like consistency. Once bottled into jars, the chutney should keep for around a week.
Don't dismiss the idea of making sweet tomato-based dishes either. For example, tomatoes actually work really well in a cake - many of us already love carrots and even courgettes and beetroot in cakes, so what's stopping you from trying baking with tomatoes too? They bring a unique sweetness and delicious flavour to a cake, which can be perfectly balanced with cream cheese frosting.
Celebrating the scent of tomatoes
The aroma of tomatoes cooking with herbs and garlic on the hob is truly beautiful; close your eyes, and you could be in the Mediterranean.
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We love fresh scents like that here at Heyland & Whittle - so much so that we've attempted to bottle it in our Tomato & Herb Candle in a Can. This scented candle is the perfect addition to any kitchen window sill, thanks to its gorgeous fresh produce-inspired fragrance.
Fill your home with the smell of exquisite cooking and homegrown goodness all year round, even when your tomato crop is a distant memory - although you're still likely to be working your way through that chutney.