The Tomato Stall - Isle of Wight producers launch box delivery service
- Credit: Archant
The Isle of Wight’s Tomato Stall shares the best varieties to liven up our summer plates and their new box delivery scheme.
When it comes to the perfect tomato, most dream of the sweet sunshine-filled varieties found across the Mediterranean – but closer to home, the Isle of Wight has become a tomato-grower’s haven. The Tomato Stall produces more than 200 varieties and over the past 30 years has put delicious UK-grown tomatoes back on the map.
According to sales and marketing manager, Daniella Voisey, it’s all about the unique maritime climate: “The Isle of Wight has the most hours of sunshine anywhere in the UK, this means we can give the crops plenty of light, which means great tasting tomatoes! Plus we only grow the varieties we believe have the best flavour.”
Firm favourites include piccolo cherry vine tomatoes, says Daniela: “They are notoriously hard to grow, but unbeatable on flavour. We’ve tried for years to find an alternative and it never matches the perfect balance of acidity and sweetness of the piccolo. Another popular variety is the Arreton jewel – an exclusive plum vine variety that has a rich, juicy sweetness; or the colourful cocktail vine – a new addition to the nursery last year and our customers love how flavourful and versatile they are.”
Purple beefsteak also tops the list, says Daniela: “This variety of beef always stands out for its fantastic umami notes; while the green tiger plum vine is a favourite that looks great on the plate – fantastic when sliced in half with a little salt and grilled for maximum flavour.”
The Tomato Stall continues to trial new tomatoes on a mission to find the next best variety. “This year we are really excited about the development of green tomatoes as consumers usually think these are under-ripe and bitter,” says Daniela. “We have a green mini plum variety that has a great balance of acidity and sweetness that bucks the trend.
“There has definitely been a trend towards fruity flavours coming through over the past two years. For example, an orange cherry vine that tastes like apricots or pink varieties that naturally offer a fruity flavour profile.”
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A trusty taste panel is ready to sample any new discoveries, explains Daniela: “It consists of local people who have been organoleptically tested before joining. We have a sit-down session at least once a week and analyse everything from appearance to the texture of each tomato. If we spot any new favourites from these scores, we often increase the growing space for these varieties for the following year.”
Along with optimal sunshine levels, The Tomato Stall’s island location allows them to utilise all the natural resources, so they can grow as mindfully as possible.
“Rainwater is a precious resource that we harvest from the glasshouse roofs and store in reservoirs, totalling 100 million litres of water,” says Daniela. “This water is then used in to irrigate the crops. We also recirculate the drain water from the irrigation, sterilise it and reuse it so nothing is wasted. This combined has reduced our reliance from borehole extraction by 80 per cent or 180 million litres per year.”
They also create microclimates inside the gigantic glasshouses using cutting-edge technology which tells them exactly how much light, heat and water the plants require to create the best tomatoes.
The Tomato Stall delivers a range of produce to stockists nationwide and pre-lockdown could be found at Hampshire’s Farmers Markets. Given the growing need to be able to get food to people’s doorsteps, they have just activated their box scheme.
“In our first few weeks of our box scheme becoming live we are already sending out roughly 2,000kg of tomatoes to people at home, and rising! We are working closely with Claire Thomson from The Five O’Clock Apron (Instagram: @5oclockapron) so everyone at home knows how to get the most out of our tomato boxes once they arrive.” These same heritage varieties would normally have been heading to customers such as Jason Atherton, Gordon Ramsay, Tom Brown, Joo Won head chef at Galvin at Windows and Chantelle Nicholson, chef patron at Tredwells. “This means wherever you are, we can send a box of freshly picked Isle of Wight tomatoes as often as you like!” says Daniela.
IOW tomato veg drawer salad
Serves: Four as a side dish
Preparation time: Ten minutes
300g Isle of Wight tomatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
100g carrots cut
100g celery, sliced
Half a small red onion, cut into crescent shapes
2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp yoghurt
1 tsp English mustard
Salt and pepper
In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes with the other vegetables. In smaller bowl mix the dressing ingredients and either toss through the salad or drizzle over and serve the remainder on the side.
IOW tomato mixed seed and cream cheese bread
1 hour 20 minutes
200g Isle of Wight tomatoes
50g mixed seeds
100g plain flour
100g wholemeal flour
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp bicarbonate
80ml sunflower oil or vegetable oil
80g plain yoghurt
60g grated cheddar cheese
60g cream cheese, we used Paysan Breton French garlic and herb cream cheese
Salt and pepper
Chop the tomatoes into bite-sized pieces.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, seeds, flours, oregano, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and mix to combine.
In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, oil and yoghurt and grated cheddar.
Put the tomatoes and the wet ingredients in the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Add the cream cheese in small spoonfuls and swirl through gently, aiming to keep the cream cheese intact.
Pour the mixture into the tin (sprinkle with a few more seeds and a little grated cheese, if you like).
Bake for 40 minutes and then cover with foil and bake for a further
40 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack before cutting into thick slices.