Thursday 16 August 2012

Tasty Toms

Why do your own tomatoes taste so much better than those from the supermarket?

We picked the first of our unheated crop on August 1st - they were late this year. Ten weeks of tomato bliss lie ahead.  Commercial growers need to produce uniform, round, red, long lasting fruit. They do this wonderfully well, but that’s what you get - round, red, tasteless balls.

I have also grown Marmande this year. You would certainly recognize this, and know it to be meaty and tasty
Here are the reasons why your own are so much nicer.

1. You can choose a sweet tasting variety. My usual choices are ‘Shirley’ and ‘Sweet Million’. Shirley is an old commercial tomato, it is disease resistant and produces a generous sized meaty fruit. Sweet Million is a delicious and reliable cherry tomato.
2. Your own tomatoes fully ripen on the plant.
3. They are freshly picked.
4. Home grown tomatoes are usually produced in the sunny summer months. Plenty of light gives those important ingredients of flavor, sugar, acids and solids.
5. I don’t quite know how to say this, but we are less skilled than professional growers! They achieve very high yields and the flavorsome ingredients are spread around more thinly. Badly grown tomatoes can sometimes taste best! 
6. You can be assured that no chemicals have been used in their culture or marketing. (My own are not sprayed but I do use fertilisers.) 
7. We must not disregard another psychological element. Of course those plants, on which you have lavished so much care, taste better. You have grown them yourself!

Sweet Million
So, what if you don’t grow your own and cannot find a friend who does? Best to find a local supplier or farm shop that grows a tasty variety. Do not be put off by misshaped fruits!

Years ago plant breeders bred some distinctive, highly flavoured tomatoes. They were striped! One was called Tiger Tom (shades of Tiger Tim in my childhood comic). The idea was, if you could recognize them, you would buy them! They never caught on, but you can still buy the seed. For a nice picture of a striped variety ‘Tigerella’, go here.


  1. I was once given advice to not bother with all the hassle that goes into growing tomatoes when there are cheap adequate tomatoes in the supermarket at my convenience

    1. Benjamin Brook, you philistine!
      I might have once said it is not economic to grow your own vegetables but that does not factor in the pleasure of growing and eating your own. And yes, we do choose to buy our onions and the wonderful 'dirty carrots' at the our village farm shop. In fact I was there this morning. They had some fantastic home grown tomatoes but they were uneven size and not uniform colour. What seemed to be selling better-the uniform round red rubbish in the pretty pack!

  2. I don't bother growing them either Ben. I do, however, have a neighbour who keeps threatening to give me some of his especially tasty Marmande toms. Until then, unfortunately, I have to put up with Morrisons on-the-vine ones!


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