Keen gardeners will now be enjoying the taste of their fresh tomatoes on their plate. Although it’s a little late to start growing your own this year we recommend you become prepared so you can experience the difference fresh tomatoes bring to any Italian dish.
Tinned tomatoes undoubtedly make a good substitute when fresh are not readily ripe or available, added to soups, stews and lasagnes they make short work of any dish. However when fresh tomatoes are used the plate comes alive with a zing that’s impossible to replicate and nothing tastes better than growing your own.
How to Grow Tomatoes
Tomatoes are simple to grow anywhere in the world as long as you have a windowsill and light. No matter how big or small your garden (or even window box) you can grow your own. There are so many varieties available from small sun gold tomatoes to huge beef tomatoes, that sowing can vary but here is a general guide.
Start seeds off indoors (or in a heated greenhouse) in mid to late spring. Plant two or three seeds per pot and as they grow pick out the weakest. Transplant to the garden only after the threat of frost has passed, usually 12 to 14 weeks before the onset of autumn.
Plants will grow up a south facing wall enjoying the heat of the sun, use grow bags settled on the floor for an economical way to grow them without needing much space. If you are training your tomatoes to climb a trellis (note, you can’t do this with bush varieties) you’ll need to pinch off early side shoots to encourage upward growth.
Different Tomatoes for Different Dishes
Cherry tomatoes are ideal for antipastos simply drizzled with olive oil, a squirt of lemon and a sprinkle of salt they make any mouth water and will pair perfectly with ciabatta. Nothing tastes better than dipping home-made ciabatta into the leftover juices from fresh tomatoes, a true taste of summer that is difficult to replicate and impossible to forget.
Plum tomatoes are wonderful for a range of Italian dishes from risottos to pasta sauces. Once you’ve mastered the art of peeling them you’ll never buy a tin of tomatoes again.
How to Peel Fresh Tomatoes
Simply score a cross on the bottom of the tomato (making sure not to enter the skin), then place in a bowl and pour over boiling water. Leave for just thirty seconds before then scooping out and plunging into a bowl of ice cold water. AS you pick them up you’ll feel the skin already slips away in your hands.
Now you have home grown fresh plum tomatoes replace tinned wherever you can and enjoy a new taste sensation at home.