Nothing beats the flavour of tomatoes on the vine but in this country it is to hard to get them all to ripen before the end of the season.
So here are some tips to get the most out of your crop:
1. Throughout the growing season, prick out side shoots as soon as they appear in the junctions of stem and side branches of the plant.
2. Prune the plants in late August to concentrate their energy on ripening the tomatoes. Keep them on the vine as long as possible, the flavour is better when vine ripened.
Experienced allotmenteer Zak Frost recommends cutting of the top of the plant and removing the leaves around the fruit a little at a time, starting from the base of the plant, eventually ending up with barely any leaves at all.
Also remove new flowers that form to stop them creating more fruit that won’t have time to ripen.
3. Some people also recommend cutting down the amount of water you give the plants at this time.
4. For the best flavour, keep the tomatoes on the vine for as long as possible but when frosts are threatened, pick the remaining unripe fruit and put in an egg box, paper bag, cardboard box or drawer together with a banana, ripe apple or ripe tomato. This will speed the ripening process better than putting them on a windowsill.
5. Caroline Stevenson says that another way to ripen tomatoes is to pull plant out of pot and hang bare rooted upside down and all the tomatoes will ripen on the vine perfectly
Never put ripe tomatoes in the fridge, as a large part of the flavour will die if they are cold. And for the best tomatoes on the plate… warm them gently in the sun before eating and add plenty of salt and perhaps a dash of olive oil and some basil leaves.
Green Tomato Recipes
Any tomatoes that stubbornly remain green can still be cooked! They make great chutney and picallili.
Green Tomato Chutney
See recipe here
See recipe here
Fried Green Tomatoes
Slice really hard, homegrown green tomatoes acrosswise, rejecting top and bottom slices. Coat well with seasoned cornmeal or semolina. Fry a few at a time in hot oil. Turn gently and be careful not to burn. Keep warm on a plate lined with kitchen towel. Ideally tomatoes should still have an al dente texture (rather than mushy).
Thanks to Zak Frost, Rita Pooles, Theresa Elgar and Jan Stevens for their contributions. Please add any more tips in the comments below.