It’s that time of year again. The sun’s out, the soil is warm and every vegetable gardener’s mind is turning towards this year’s crop of tomatoes. Enjoying a tomato that has ripened to perfection and has been warmed by the kiss of the summer sun is the kind of pleasure that inspires novice gardeners and keeps the old hands coming back for more. However, the enjoyment of tomatoes is hardly limited to the ones that we scoff in the garden; there are myriad uses for delicious homegrown tomatoes once they land in the kitchen. Whether it is tossed together with some greens for a simple salad, sliced for an epic burger, cooked down for a sumptuous pasta sauce or bottled for a taste of summer’s sunshine in the depths of winter, tomatoes are a versatile addition to the summer kitchen.
The question is, is it a case of one tomato fits all, or do you need the right tool-mato for the job?
In my humble opinion, while you can get away with using a single variety for all your culinary adventures, if you want to get the absolute best out of your tommies (and who doesn’t?) then I highly recommend planting a mixture of varieties, each suited to a different use.
A quick browse through any seed catalogue will reveal a dizzying array of heirloom tomato varieties in almost every shape, size and colour imaginable. But how do you know which is best for what?
Fear not dear reader, I’ve assembled a guide to the culinary uses of tomatoes and the most suitable varieties for each use.
Which tomato for what
Most tomatoes can be used in more than one way, these are just meant as a starting point.
Salad Beams Yellow Pear, Black Cherry,
Green Grape, Green Zebra, Jaune Flamme,
Tommy Toe, Wild Sweetie, Red and Black
Slicing Aunt Ruby’s German Green, Australian Red,
Big Rainbow, Brandywine Pink, Mortgage Lifter,
Sauce Amish Paste, Anna Russian, Hungarian Heart,
Italian Gold, Roma, San Marzano
Stuffing Costoluto Genovese, Periforme Abruzzesse,
Schimmeig Greg, Yellow Stuffer
Drying Legend, Principe Borghese, Ram’s Horn, Red Fig,
First published: October 2017