The ‘Source’ of Tomatoes


As winter approaches and the tomatoes have all frosted, we wondered just where they came from. So many think that Italy is their home….. but, no! Think South and Central America. The Nahuati (Aztec) language word, ‘Tomati’ was used by the Aztecs . Only after the Spanish arrived in 1519 to wreak havoc on the local populace did one of the conquistadores, Hernan Cortes notice the strange yellow, green, and red fruits being eaten as a staple in so many different dishes. 

It is thought that he was the first to take yellow tomato plants back to Spain. To this day, we commonly refer to yellow tomatoes as ‘Heirloom’. Red tomatoes were next to arrive in Spain. From there, tomatoes were introduced to many Mediterranean countries with Italy developing a passionate liking for them.

In 1544, the first discussion in the ‘Herbal’ on tomatoes was published by Pietro Mattioli claiming that they were a new type of Eggplant! People were cautious due to the acidity and thought they may be toxic, hence their popularity as ornamentals in Italian gardens rather than food.

As more varieties appeared due to seed variation, they found favour as a food staple, not just as a food but, increasingly as an additive to stews, sauces, breads etc. Who knows when pizzas arrived but that might be the subject of our next blog!

We all know the diversity of tomatoes now, but many don’t realise that a tomato is 95% water, great in hot climates for hydration, but also significant when making Tomato relish. Why, you may well ask!

The 300g of tomatoes in the image equates to the water in the jug!

We have a range of 38 products and our Tomato Relish is one of the most popular and here are a few reasons why. Remember the 95% water factor – that constitutes the most important part of making relish, the water must be reduced to allow the spices and tomatoes to become the heroes, not the water. At this point, the options are to cook the relish for 5 hours or to halve that time by adding thickener which clouds the flavour. 

The thickener can halve cooking time but also reduces the flavour but of course, to save costs that is the choice of many producers. We choose not to compromise so it bubbles away for 5 hours per small batch, resulting in the relish many of you know and love.

Tomato Relish is only one of five relishes and chutneys we make. Make sure you try them all!