February 3, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Senor tomato: "correct" tomatoes in our plate

It is believed that until June it is simply impossible to find high-quality and tasty tomatoes on sale. Is it really? A vegetable seller in Pagrati and a restaurant owner trusted by gourmets, Stelios Harkiolakis decided to share the “secrets” of one of the most important ingredients of Greek cuisine.

How do you define a “good” tomato?

The veins that are on the tomato are a good selection criterion. It’s hard for a veined tomato not to be good.

How many types of tomatoes are there, and how many of them grow in Greece?

There are countless varieties, and to be precise, it is estimated that there are more than ten thousand in the world. And most of them, with proper care, can be grown in Greece.

Which of these thousands of species usually end up on our plate?

Hope (Ελπίδες ή ελπιδούλες) is the name given to most of the tomatoes we see in popular Greek supermarket chains. And tomatoes ekstasis, belladonna, optasia, beef and pink are all large-fruited. Most often they can be found in vegetable shops, in street markets.

How can we know which tomato is good before we even try it?

Ripening plays an important role in the taste of a tomato. The veins that can be seen when cut are a good selection criterion. Also, do not look for the most “beautiful”, perfectly formed tomatoes.

Although the uniformity of vegetables (type and size) on the counter suggests that they are of the same variety. So sorting and uniformity is good. Tomato growing areas – Marathonas, Filiatra, Anavyssos, Trikala, Corinth, Ierapetra and Argos – are just a few of the well-known tomato lovers.

If an unripe tomato is caught, is there a way to use it for food?

You can wait for it to mature and make a sauce out of it. Although, unless you intend to add many more ingredients and spices to it, the result will be… a tasteless sauce. Ripe tomatoes are very tasty food in themselves, we can only eat them by adding a little salt. Personally, I eat tomatoes every day, even without salt.

What is a myth and not true is that all tomatoes not grown in a greenhouse, but grown outdoors, are of the best quality. It is not always so.

Do tomatoes have a season? When do we eat good tomatoes?

Since we want to consume them all year round, production has reached the point of “off-season”. Almost all year round on the shelves you can see vegetables and fruits without any problems.

If we are talking about natural ripening, the best tomatoes are grown in June, but again, this is due to the weather. Extreme weather conditions for the season take a toll on crops. Summer tomatoes sprout in May, the first harvest is very modest, and already in June we have the most beautiful tomatoes. Then the plant begins to age, so it may not lose its aroma, but it begins to develop unnecessary stems and more white grains. And so on until November.

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