This Summer time is forecasted to be the optimal time of year for tomato picking and as tomato season is nearly upon us, why not prepare yourself and brush up on your tomato facts? Tomatoes are a popular faviroute and are a staple ingredient in many recipes and diets around the globe. In this blog, we will be exploring the history of the tomato, where you can find tomatoes, and how to grow your very own in your back garden.
The History of the Tomato
Did you know the English word tomato actually comes from the Aztec word tomatl? The first tomatoes were found growing wild in what is now Peru, Chile and Ecuador with the Incas and Aztecs being the first to cultivate them back in 700AD. Jumping now to the beginning of the 16th century, the tomato first arrived in Europe. There are many varying opinions of how the tomato arrived in Europe, some say they were brought back from America by Spanish Conquistadors but some legends suggest that it was actually two Jesuit priests that bought them to Italy from Mexico. No matter the truth, what we do not for certain is that the tomato was cherished in Europe and the first cultivated tomatoes were called golden apples due to their yellow colour and small shape. It wasn't until the late 19th century that the first commercial tomato growing in Britain began. Kent and Essex were the cities that housed the first glasshouses, and still to this day are expanding their large-scale production. The commercialisation of the growing process continues to become more sustainable and wide spread. 
Different Types of Tomato
Classic Tomatoes - Family favourite. Fantastic all-rounder, great for salads, grilling, baking or frying
Cherry Tomatoes - Cherry tomatoes are round, bite-sized, and so juicy that they may pop when you bite into them. These are great for pizza toppings, kebabs, pesto and salads.
Grape Tomatoes - Grape tomatoes are about half the size of cherry tomatoes. They don’t contain as much water and have an oblong shape. These are great for salads or just to snack on their own.
Roma Tomatoes - Roma tomatoes are larger than cherry and grape tomatoes but not large enough to be used for slicing. These are great for making sauces and canning.
Beefsteak Tomatoes - Beefsteak tomatoes are large, sturdy, and firm enough to hold their shape when being thinly sliced. Because of this, they are good for sandwiches, baking, sauces and pizzas.
Vine Tomatoes - Also known as truss tomatoes, these are sold still attached to the fruiting stem. All British tomatoes are vine-ripened because they have only a short distance to travel to market. These are widely available and great for sandwiches, pesto and snacking.
How to grow your own tomatoes?
The tomato plants are split into two main growing types; bush/ determinate and cordon/indeterminate. Bush types are usually planted in pots or baskets then cordon types are trained to grow tall and are supported by a cane or stake. But to grow your own tomatoes successfully, you need rich, fertile soil or moist compost. More on how to make your own compost here. You'll need to place your plant in a spot with access to sunlight but in a sheltered spot. You'll need to water both types of plant regularly and feed the tomatoes with fertiliser when they start to flower.
- Access to sunlight
- Regular Watering
- Feed with a natural fertiliser when the plant flowers
- Adjust the pot the plant is growing in in accordance to the tomatoes size.
Cooking on Wood with tomatoes
The possibilities are endless when it comes to cooking with tomatoes. Casseroles, soups, salads, breakfast, pasta and lasagne are amongst the various recipes you can make with this staple ingredient. Probably the easiest cooking on wood recipe using tomatoes is good old fashioned tomatoes on toast. Whether it's a cold wintering day or a warm morning on the campsite, this recipe is sure to fill your appetite. Here's how you do it!
Prepare your fire. To light your firepit we recommend you to use our Grill & Chill logs and our KindleFlamers. Simply put 2 logs in your firepit, place your KindleFlamer in between, slant some smaller logs over the formation and proceed to light the KindleFlamer. Throughout the cooking process, you want to ensure you have a strong fire throughout so make sure to fuel your fire with more logs.
Once you have the fire going, it is time to prepare the ingredients. For this recipe the only ingredients you need is oil, bread, tomatoes and seasoning of your choice. Halve the tomatoes, oil them and season, then oil the bottom on the skillet or frying pan.
Let the pan with the oil heat up, then transfer the chopped tomatoes into it. You should hear a sizzling noise, as soon as the tomatoes hit the pan. Cook them until they have gone soft on both sides.
Whilst the tomatoes are cooking, move on to toasting your bread. There are two different methods in which you can do this. If you have a toasting fork hold the bread directly over the flame. If not, toast it on the grill pan until toasted to your liking.
Carefully remove the roasted tomatoes from the pan and place them onto the toast, add some more seasoning if you wish, then pour yourself a cuppa. Voila, the perfect tomatoes on toast made on your firepit!