PLUM TOMATOES: PERFECT FOR COOKING

Plum tomatoes are one of our favorite tomato varieties due to their versatility.
They are a bit firmer compared to other varieties and have fewer locules (seed compartments) than ‘standard’ round tomatoes, which makes them a perfect fit to cook with.
Due to the trend of culinary cooking at home and our love for this oval-shaped tomato variety, we want to put them in the spotlight today and give you some insights!

Increasingly popular

Plum tomatoes are firm and known for their fresh, Mediterranean taste. They are ideal as a base for soups and sauces, but also for oven dishes. This makes the fruit especially popular with enthusiastic home cooks . Cooking from scratch simply means to cook a meal without using a readymade mixture of ingredients. The re-embrace of home cooking is introducing younger generations to a bygone era. The international trend of scratch cooking is responsible for the increasing demand for plum tomatoes and we could not agree more that they are indeed a very good choice to put in your shopping basket.

Perfect for cooking

Plum tomatoes are oval, egg- or pear-shaped and red when fully ripe with a good balance between juicy and fruity structure. They have few seeds and are a good canning and sauce tomato. Plum tomatoes are prized for being fleshier than their round counterparts (which are usually used for the chopped varieties), with less watery seeds. Although plum tomatoes are generally high in juice, they still lose little fruit moisture. That is why the plum tomato is often the basis for a tasty pasta sauce or a delicious tomato soup.

Trends and developments

When it comes to modern day cooking habits, convenience is often key. Hectic lifestyles filled with working careers, social occasions, family life, health and wellbeing and more means consumers are relying more and more on food-to-go. While we appreciate that life can sometimes dictate our eating habits, we need to be consciously aware of just how much of it we’re consuming and, where possible, opt to cook from scratch instead.

The good news is that cooking from scratch doesn’t have to be time consuming. Advanced technology helps in even the simplest of devices which help make cooking from scratch and eating healthily a doddle. The cooking trend has a major impact on the use of the plum tomatoes, given its good fresh cooking properties. Within the entire plum tomato market (international) we see a clear shift towards larger packaging in terms of grams. The number of packages larger than 500 gr. increased by 18.5% within the Netherlands.

The Netherlands might be a small country, but we are great at producing the best and most sustainable tomatoes. The summery taste of the plum tomato is available all year round.  During the summer period (week 14 – 44), Dutch plum tomatoes are grown under the sun. In winter season they are grown under artificial light, but can also be sourced from Spain or Morocco.

Tasty tomatoes

Our lives have changed during Covid. This has also had an effect on the way we shop and eat. Due to the many working from home, more and more people are also cooking at home. Because the catering industry was closed, you were allowed to spoil yourself a bit and just cook; cooking culinary.

Higher segment products with a higher quality and price perception are therefore very popular during Covid.

Within the tomato segment, this is reflected, for example, in the increased volumes and turnover of truss tomatoes, truss cherry tomatoes and plum tomatoes. All products with a better taste perception. While, for example, the regular round tomatoes decreased in turnover and volume.

(source: Nielsen, 2019 vs 2020)

Recipe

Fresh garlic-basil-tomato soup, a healthy and tasty way to make use of the benefits of plum tomatoes. Perfect for the end of summer and fall! Serve with a grilled cheese sandwich and top off with some grated Parmesan cheese for some extra umami flavor.

Ingredients for 4 persons:

  • About 1.3-1.5kg of fresh plum tomatoes (deep red coloured), all halved
  • 8 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 big yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • A bunch of fresh basil and parsley
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 500ml chicken broth (or vegetable – if you want the soup to be vegetarian)
  • 4 tablespoons of good quality olive oil
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper

Optional add-ins:

  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling on top
  • Some heavy cream (about a tablespoon per serving) for a creamy texture


Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F / 200C. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the halved tomatoes (with the cut side up) and whole garlic cloves on the baking sheet and drizzle with about 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with freshly ground salt and pepper (generously). Roast in the preheated oven for about 40-45 minutes, until the tomatoes start to brown slightly.
  2. While your tomatoes are baking away, you can make your caramelized onions. Add about ½ tablespoon of olive oil to a skillet and place over medium heat. Add the sliced onion and stir to coat with the olive oil. Cook them for about 20 minutes whilst stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown and glazed.
  3. Let the tomatoes and onions cool down for 10 minutes before you go on. Add them to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Add about ¾ of the basil leaves and the onions, and blend again until smooth again.

4. Transfer your soup in a large pot, turn to medium low heat and add in the oregano, chicken broth and salt and pepper to taste (it is important that you taste it, it can already be salty enough). Let your soup simmer for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with some basil and fresh parsley, grated Parmesan cheese and/or some heavy cream if you like!

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