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Our English tomatoes come by way of what is now a third generation family business, originating in the fertile fields of Sicily. Two young boys, Francesco and Salvatore, followed in their fathers' footsteps over 50 years ago, and in 1977, their paths would cross in England, having come over with their parents 10 years earlier. The two bonded over their love of growing the best veg, in the Sicilian way, and joined forces buying the 28-acre Smallford. Francesco's son Sam and Salvatore's son Joe are now keeping their fathers' passion and tradition alive, growing the best tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers around in state-of-the-art greenhouses that keep things as sustainable as can be – recycling irrigation and roof water, and re-using the by-products from heating the glasshouse to enrich the plants' environment with CO2, important in plant growth. To top it off, all the tomato and pepper plants are pollinated by busy bees. Brilliant all round.
Tomatoes absolutely love sunbathing, so leave them on the windowsill if they need ripening. Or, pop them in the fridge in a paper bag or in their punnet if they’re already ripe, and take them out a few hours before you eat or cook with them – they taste much better at room temperature. An excellent tip for almost-over cherry tomatoes is to pop them in the freezer, ready to be defrosted and used in sauces whenever you need them. Give your tomatoes a quick rinse before popping whole in your salads. A good tip for removing the skin (some recipes ask for this) is to place the tomatoes in very hot water and wait till the skin begins to peel away naturally, remove and, when cool enough, peel completely. The older the tomato, the softer it is.