"Fresh tomatoes in peak season have a brilliant acidity and subtle sweetness that can brighten your summer like nothing else."Vee Tames for Varsity


Undeniably, fresh tomatoes in peak season (August) have a brilliant acidity and subtle sweetness that can brighten your summer like nothing else. But, you can get pretty near the real deal with some tinned tomatoes from your local supermarket with the right approach. 

An unassuming yet versatile ingredient tucked away in our store cupboards, tinned tomatoes have become the unsung heroes of my lockdown cuisine. From curries to lasagnes, these tins can keep your mealtimes interesting for much longer than you think with a bit of creativity.

Tomatoes are rich in glumatic acid (found more often in meat than in fruit – yes, tomatoes are a fruit), giving them a naturally full and savoury flavour. Balance this with a bulky starch of your choice such as bread, rice or pasta and you’ll soon be on your way to a beautiful plate of comfort food. Here are my top tips for getting the tastiest tomatoes:

  • Choose cans with the fewest ingredients: I prefer tomatoes packed with salt, but avoid sugar, garlic, or any preservatives other than calcium chloride and citric acid.
  • Bear in mind that the best quality tomatoes are found in tinned whole tomatoes rather than chopped tomatoes. Whole tomatoes tend to be less processed than chopped tomatoes which means they have a fresher flavour and keep more of their natural sweetness. Forgo chopped tomatoes, in favour of plum tomatoes which give you more flesh and flavour for your money. 
  • Counter the bitterness by adding some sugar to your tinned tomatoes. Before any Italians or purists go mad, I know you technically shouldn’t add sugar. However, we're not dealing with fresh produce here and so need to add in the sweetness to the tinned tomatoes artificially. A quarter of a teaspoon (or a pinch or two) is my preference but feel free to add more or less according to taste. I prefer brown sugar but feel free to use white.  
  • Whole tinned tomatoes are available peeled and unpeeled. Both types have a similar flavour but differ greatly in texture. Peeled tomatoes will break down and integrate into a dish more easily than unpeeled tomatoes. Read the recipe to find out which kind of tomato you need. 
  • After you’ve tipped in your tomatoes rinse your tin with some water and add this to the sauce. You’ll get everything out of the can and you can let the water reduce a bit in your sauce, adding even more flavour. 
  • Seasoning is crucial. Beyond the usual salt and pepper, I’d recommend garlic, olive oil, some bay leaves or sprigs of thyme if you've got them at home.  I've sometimes added in a chopped and deseeded red chilli for a bit of spiciness.   
  • In the event you don’t use a whole tin at once reduce your food waste by freezing the remaining contents in a bag


Got some leftover tomato sauce? This mini recipe is a great way to use it up and satisfy your pizza cravings as well as upgrade your typical Food Tech recipe from Year 7. It’s one of my favourite self-care treats as it requires minimal effort to assemble and provides maximum comfort. 



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Serves: 1-2                                 Prep/Cook Time: 20 mins                              

  • Tomato sauce (home-made or jarred)
  • 2-4 slices of white bread, depending on how much sauce you have left over. French baguettes are also great for this as well. 
  • Oregano (optional)
  • Cheese (non-dairy alternatives are a suitable substitute)
  • Toppings of your choice
  • Fresh basil (optional)


  • Put your sliced bread in a toaster and toast. If you don’t have a toaster, you can place them under a grill until toasted.
  • Take out your toasted bread and spread your tomato sauce right to the edges. 
  • Season with oregano (if you've got it) and top with cheese and any other toppings. Finish it off with some torn bits of fresh basil on top if you wish. 
  • Put your pizza toast back in the oven for 5-10 minutes or until the cheese has melted and your toppings have adequately cooked. Enjoy!


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