Shopping in London’s Borough Market gives you access to all sorts of fresh and high quality produce from all corners of the globe. Yet its reputation as being one of London’s more expensive places to shop is not unfair. Wandering around with an empty belly can wreak havoc on your bank balance – it all looks so temptingly delicious! That said, a savvy shopper can still source produce that is cheaper and far superior in taste and quality than what can be found in your local supermarket.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to shop according to the season. Certain times of year means a glut of certain types of produce, bringing prices to a more affordable level, with quality at its highest. A case in point – and my current obsession – are tomatoes. Summer means that these fruits – in their variety of shapes, sizes, colours and textures – are abundant. Sun ripening makes them taste at their best too. All Borough Market’s fruit and vegetable stalls (generally some of the more sensibly priced stalls) display a wide selection. From the rainbow hues of the heritage tomato, vibrant in their red, orange, yellow and green tones, to the San Marzano plum – its tasty flesh perfect for rich pasta sauces – tomatoes are also good for your health and wellbeing.
Originating in South America, and thought to be first cultivated in Mexico, tomatoes were introduced to Europe by the Spanish in the 1500s. Initially considered poisonous, their popularity soon spread and the tomato is now produced and consumed globally. Far from a poison – tomatoes can also improve your overall health. Tomatoes are full of the phytonutrient lycopene – one of the world’s most powerful antioxidants. A tomato rich diet has been found to lower the risk of both prostate and breast cancers. In addition, they can lower cholesterol, and keep your eyes, brain, bones and heart healthy! All this and they may also limit the onset of Alzheimer’s and depression!
Where to buy
With more of that all-important sunshine than the mainland, the Isle of Wight is considered the best place in the U.K for tomatoes. As such, for real tomato freaks (I’m sure I’m not the only one) the best place to shop is, unsurprisingly, The Tomato Stall. Bringing their produce to market direct from their Isle of Wight nurseries, by mid summer, their table is groaning under the weight and variety available. With stalls at markets across the south of the U.K – and stockists nationwide – their knowledgeable staff can advise you on the all-important selection of the right tomato for your menu. If you are wanting to sample a Green Tiger, a Marmond or a Kumato, this is the place to head for.
So, if you want to brighten up a simple tomato salad, add an extra dimension of flavour and colour to a more complex Panzanella, or try your hand at a Trapanese, then investigate the tomato further! Priced competitively during the summer, the quality of these seasonal fruits far exceeds what’s available in supermarkets. Their all-important flavour is on a whole different level to those grown outside their ideal, sunny, summer season.