sarah's favourite tomato varieties

sarah's favourite tomato varieties


I’m sitting in our lovely greenhouse at Perch Hill and its just jam packed full of tomatoes at the moment, you can see there’s this sort of great harvest festival table centre urm but it’s because we’ve just got so many tomatoes and one of things I’m gonna be making this weekend is chilly jam with all of these surplus tomatoes that we’re not quite managing to eat in salads. Tomatoes just are the very very loveliest thing for August and September produce, I mean you just can’t beat a home grown tomato, its partly that that really unusual scent urm I wouldn’t call it perfume but the smell of a tomato leaf when you crush it and when your picking them you just, the whole place and your hands is just full of that extraordinary slightly acrid, slightly tobaccoey, amazing amazing smell urm rather than perfume.

In terms of varieties, if I was to grow just one tomato, I think it would have to be Sungold, its like a its like a sugar bomb, it’s got a very thin skin, it does really well in everybody’s taste trials it always is supremely high flying and it urm its really easy, its really prolific, it’s just an absolute winner tomato with this beautiful sort of sunny golden skin, so sungold would be my number one.

And then probably number two for me, as a salad tomato, would be this, really strange one, which my children always used to say is the colour of a bruise which rather put them off and actually sometimes when you cut into it its called black crim its from the Crimea, it has almost black jelly inside it which is quite odd. But it’s just so deliciously tasty, sliced in a salad urm it keeps a really good texture and it has an absolute burst in your mouth, incredible tomato flavour. So those two urm for me would be all round everything tomato an absolutely brilliant salad tomato which is very good cooked too.

This strange tomato, is such a beauty really, urm urm, middle sized shape and size urm and and sort of very uniform, incredibly shiny and the thing that is bizarre about them is that they have this blue, sort out apex and then when they are ripe, the bottom goes red urm never quite as intensely red as a normal tomato but this is called Indigo Rose and you can see why, indigo and rose and it has a double dose of antioxidants it has got the anthocyanins of blueberries which is really good for brain health and the lycopene of tomatoes which is a really good anti-cancer, antioxidant. So they are tasty, they are prolific, they are good raw, they are good cooked, indigo roses are good all round tomato.

Whenever we grow tomatoes here inside or out but particularly in a greenhouse you can get a problem with whitefly and urm particularly if you put cucumbers and tomatoes near each other they seem to draw whitefly in even more. We don’t use chemicals here, we use biological control with things like the encarsia wasp which gets sent through the post but most importantly of all for us we use companion plants and my favourite urm of the flowering varieties of the tagetes family my favourite of that family is Linnaeus, which is this beautiful crimson mahogany variety single flowers, quite elegant, elegant enough to be a cut flower. A lot of the tagetes are a bit sort of dumpy and a bit heavy headed, I always think of them like a Shetland pony with too many rosettes, the proportions is not quite right but Linnaeus is elegant and dignified so I really recommend and its brilliant at protecting against whitefly and then all the basils any of the basils are brilliant protectants against any of the aphid infestation and in fact you’ll, you’ll see that if you go to Greece, you’ll never urm see basil used in cooking. In Greece you they’ll use oregano, they’ll use parsley, they use lots of different things but not basil because they think of it as an insecticide and when you sit outside on a Greek summers night there is often a little tin of a growing basil plant in the middle of the table it’s often Greek bush basil that very neat, domey one. But that is because they that it is a very very effective insecticide and keeps the mosquitoes away and so If you under plant your tomatoes or your aubergines or your peppers or your chillies with a good raft urm at ground level of any of the basils, then you don’t need to use chemicals.

Cherry tomatoes are really lovely things to grow and if you don’t have a greenhouse, they’re probably the safest ones because they’re easy to ripen in our lower light levels and they get their sweetness um more easily without so much sunlight. So, a classic red cherry that’s done well in our trials here is a variety called Santonio and it seems to do well inside or out with us and so that’s a really good red cherry and then sungold remains my tip top favourite tomato probably a really good all-rounder.

And then this one which is Chocolate Cherry is is quite an interesting variety and what you’ll find is quite a lot of the modern varieties are moving over to having this sort of strange colouring. Slightly brown, slightly chocolatey and so urm, they are urm, super healthy, so double double dose of antioxidants and healthiness and interestingly on the health front you always get more out of your lycopene absorption and so more nutrition if actually they are cooked and and cooked with a little bit of oil urm and that helps you absorb um the antioxidants so they’re wonderful in a salad but always use olive oil but in fact for a real maximum nutrition cook them in a sauce.

If I was to add another one and I had room for three, I would probably go for Gardener’s Delight there’s been, it’s a small cherry you can see small red cherry uh slightly bigger than a cherry normally urm and um this there’s been so much breeding of varieties that are meant to be better than gardener’s delight but whenever we’ve trialled them, all the daughters of Gardener’s Delight just aren’t as good, the flavours not as good, urm the productivity is not as good and urm it’s so me for me this is still remains an absolute winner.