There are five different types of tomato available in shops:
These are the familiar, round variety and are the most popular type of tomato. They are good for salads, grilling, baking or frying.
These are both smaller than the traditional classic tomato; cherry tomatoes are the smallest and cocktail tomatoes slightly larger. Both are very sweet and have a concentrated flavour. Most cherry tomatoes are red, but golden, orange and yellow varieties are also available. Cherry tomatoes are delicious eaten whole and raw, or cooked.
These have a distinctive oval shape. Their flesh is firm and they have less liquid in the centre. They are the natural choice for pizzas and pasta dishes and their fleshy texture makes them ideal for the barbecue. The production of baby plum tomatoes has increased dramatically in recent years.
These are larger than the traditional round tomato. Their size and shape make them excellent for stuffing and baking whole.
These may be of any of the types mentioned above but are marketed still attached to the fruiting stem.
The description vine tomatoes may be confused with the term vine-ripened tomatoes. The latter refers to any tomatoes which are picked when ripe, i.e. they ripen on the plant. This gives optimum flavour, but makes the fruit more perishable. All British tomatoes are vine-ripened as they have only a short distance to travel to market. Imported tomatoes are usually picked less ripe, to withstand the lengthy journey here by road or sea and firmer, long-life varieties are commonly used.
Additionally they provide a very good indication of the freshness of the fruit since the calyx, the green spiky bit to which the fruit is attached, deteriorates quickly after harvesting.
Did You Know?
British tomato production amounts to about 65,000 metric tonnes per year (approximately 2 billion tomatoes!)- about a fifth of the total volume of tomatoes sold in the country through the year, and up to a half in the summer.