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How to ripen tomatoes

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What’s the quickest way to ripen tomatoes? And why you should never keep tomatoes in the fridge.

– Supermarkets often sell tomatoes that are under-ripe so they last while they are travelling from their country of origin. Buy tomatoes a day or two before you need them as they are one of the fruits that continues to ripen at home (see our list of fruits that will and won’t ripen at home).

– If you have time, the way we prefer to ripen tomatoes is to place them in a bag with a piece of fruit leaving a bit of space, make a few holes in the bag and the ethylene that the fruit emits will help to ripen the tomatoes.

– Never keep tomatoes in the fridge, they lose flavour when they are cool. Chilling tomatoes not only stops them maturing and developing flavour, but serving them straight from the fridge blunts their flavour. To enhance the flavour of cold tomatoes, dip them in hot water before use.

Quick things to do with tomatoes:

A SIMPLE TOMATO SALAD – Slice ripe tomatoes thickly, drizzle with good olive oil, sprinkle over a grinding of black pepper and a light smattering of sea salt (tomatoes are quite salty themselves). Serve as a simple starter on its own. A fine tomato needs no adornment. Sprinkle over chopped basil, oregano or thyme leaves if you have them. Serve with a chilled glass of Gavi and good bread for dunking in the tomato juices.

ROAST VINE TOMATOES WITH THYME – Roast the tomatoes whole until they soften and are squishy. To do that, place a few strands of ripe vine tomatoes in a baking dish with a good slug of olive oil, a light sprinkling of sea salt and a few fresh grindings of crunchy black pepper. Tuck a few sprigs of thyme under the tomatoes (only food stylists put the thyme on top, it just burns).  Use clean hands to coat the tomatoes in the oil and herbs – and bake for an hour at 160C/350F/Gas 3. Eat as they are with good bread or toss the roast tomatoes with cooked linguine, adding the oil from the tomatoes to make a sauce. If you like, add a spoon of grated lemon zest and a spoon of cream or Crème fraîche and stir through. Serve with grated Pecorino or Parmesan. 

WE LOVE THESE CHEAT’S DUTCH-FRIED TOMATOES – Add a large knob of butter to the hot baking dish when the roast tomatoes in the recipe above come out of the oven. When the butter melts add a generous splash of double cream, a tablespoon of runny honey, lots of freshly cracked black pepper and stir gently, turning the tomatoes in the cream and honey until it comes together. Serve on top of toasted bread.

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Roast tomatoes with Thyme and Sea Salt
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Photography copyright foodpixies.com

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