Waste not ...
Tomatoes taste best when grown in the sun, picked fresh off the vine and sprinkled with a touch of salt to bring out the taste of sunshine. But did you know the vine itself has an intense, tomatoey flavour that can be used as an ingredient to intensify the flavour of a sauce? It’s a neat trick when the tomatoes aren’t quite up to par and are in need of a flavour injection.
Overripe and soft tomatoes make the best sauce: sweet, rich and full of flavour. Indulge in British tomatoes in late summer, when they are plentiful and the sun is strong enough to give them flavour. Avoid them in winter because heated greenhouses use excessive energy to farm them. Instead, go Italian, either by abstaining until next season or by making your own passata, which will last long into the winter. It takes just a few minutes to make, and preserves any ripe tomatoes you might have or want to buy while they are cheap.
Passata with tomato vines
Bring a large pan of water to a boil. Add the tomatoes and the vine, if you have it, return to a boil, then boil for two minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to a colander, then pass through a mouli or blend to a rough puree. To remove the pips and skin, pass the puree through a sieve; otherwise, pour the passata into sterilised bottles, and add the tomato vine for flavour. If you are going to use it in the next couple of weeks, store in the fridge; otherwise, preserve the sauce using the hot-water bath preservation method online.