Sundried, refrigerated, or a specific variety - there are lots of different ways to maximise the summer sweetness of the humble tomato. Louise Wates explores how to achieve the perfect jar of sundried toms.

Jamie Oliver has said he and his wife disagree over it, my partner and I disagree too – should tomatoes be stored in the fridge?

Oliver and I think definitely not; that it ruins the flavour.

But according to a study from the University of Göttingen, Germany, we are wrong.

After consulting a ‘sensory panel’ made up of experienced and trained assessors who rated tomatoes for sweetness, acidity and juiciness, the team reported “no perceptible difference” in flavour between refrigerated and non-refrigerated tomatoes.

What did make the difference, however, was the variety. Plus, a shorter storage period was found to be better for flavour and related attributes.

Regardless, I can’t see myself putting the tomatoes back in the fridge any time soon because I am convinced that a room-temperature tomato tastes much nicer than a cold one.

And if, like me, you might occasionally snack on tomatoes like any other fruit, then sweetness at room temperature – in my opinion – is more pleasing.

But the study did get me thinking about the concentrated flavour of sundried tomatoes.

How to make sundried tomatoes

Recently, being conscious of the ratio of my omega-3 and omega-6 intake, I took a moment to inspect the ingredients of a tub in my fridge.

As expected, sunflower oil (high in omega-6) was the man added oil, with rapeseed (high in omega-3) coming second. What the proportion was is anyone’s guess.

So with tomatoes in season and at their best, it seemed sensible to make my own so that I could drench them in whatever oil I chose.

A quick internet search found a wealth of blogs with helpful instructions.

For my first attempt, I used baby plum tomatoes. These were cut in half, brushed with olive oil, and sprinkled with herbs before being placed in the oven at 140C/275F/gas 1 for a planned three hours.

even the almost-flavourless round tomatoes came out surprisingly well

After two hours, though, I realised the method was for much larger tomatoes because mine were already starting to look crisp around the edges.

I had been hoping they would give the impression that they had been lovingly dried in the garden of a Mediterranean villa, and not as if they had been baked in British suburbia. But not so.

However, waste not want not. I plopped the semi-crispy toms into some olive oil for later.

What I did discover to my delight when I sprinkled them onto a bowl of lentil daal, was that they had become intense, crispy-chewy little flavour bombs and worth replicating.

In subsequent attempts, I baked cherry tomatoes and almost-flavourless round tomatoes. Like before, these were halved, brushed with olive oil, and sprinkled with herbs.

Some were even treated to a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. This time, I checked progress after each half hour.

The intensity of flavour from sundried (or oven-dried) tomatoes comes from evaporation of liquid which causes the sugars to become concentrated, so even the almost-flavourless round tomatoes came out surprisingly well.

With a glut from home-grown plants, this is a satisfying way to DIY.

Also, once the tomatoes are used, there remains flavoured olive oil that can be used to drizzle over salads or in cooking.

Storing the tomatoes with raw garlic cloves also gives the tomatoes – and the oil – a bit of a punch, if that is what you like. Roasting garlic cloves with the tomatoes will, however, give a more subtle flavour.

I doubt I will buy them from a shop ever again.

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