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Anywhere to get good tomatoes?

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Berabouman
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Anywhere to get good tomatoes?

Postby Berabouman » Sat, 26 Apr 2014 8:51 am

I love to use tomatoes in cooking, but I can't find good ones at the supermarket in most cases, even Cold Storage. Usually they are Malaysian tomatoes which are fine for curries and soups, but not so good for pasta/stews IMHO. (A bit too sour)

I usually end up using canned tomatoes, which is not an ideal situation. :( Does anyone know where I can get better ones? (if they exist in Singapore, that is)

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JR8
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Re: Anywhere to get good tomatoes?

Postby JR8 » Sat, 26 Apr 2014 11:59 am

Berabouman wrote:I love to use tomatoes in cooking, but I can't find good ones at the supermarket in most cases, even Cold Storage. Usually they are Malaysian tomatoes which are fine for curries and soups, but not so good for pasta/stews IMHO. (A bit too sour)

I usually end up using canned tomatoes, which is not an ideal situation. :( Does anyone know where I can get better ones? (if they exist in Singapore, that is)


Ironic, as I was in Cold Storage/Novena just yesterday studying the over-$ and miserable tomatoes that were on offer. How I miss the 'heirloom tomatoes' that we'd get from the farmers market in the US, and also my dad's home-grown ones back in Europe...

So, over here you need to adapt somewhat in my experience.
- It's surprisingly easy to cheat and turn the most basic Dolmio/Prego pasta sauce etc into something that might be imagined to be home-made, by using the sauce as a base ingredient, that you build upon.
- there is a similar issue in Europe outside of summer. The fresh supermarket tomatoes have almost nil taste. A decent spoon of tomato puree to a base of fresh tomatoes helps perk it up, some-way.
- If the likes of Hunts is not working for you, then see if you can find an Italian brand. There is a type of tomato called San Marzano, it's a plum tomato, canned when at peak flavour. I've used Centro brand before, and I'm sure that, at a price, you can find canned San Marzano toms over here in SG (start with the highest end supermarkets and work down?).
Some more info here ... http://www.mangiabenepasta.com/tomatoes_canned.html
... if whilst eating out here you ever encounter fresh toms with any flavour, ask the chef where they can from.

The things with fresh tomatoes is like battery chickens, it's all about quantity not quality these days. Plus they can only (or should only!) be picked at peak ripeness, then have to transported, often long ways... This is why the local offerings are often like $flavour-free snooker balls.

I'd be very interested to hear how you get on.

p.s. Do you want fresh toms as you're a purist and like to work from fresh/square one?
If the former, I understand, I was like that too! Perhaps this might persuade you that a little cheating is 'ok' :) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Delias-How-Chea ... ref=sr_1_1

A similar sort of approach, cutting acceptable corners (using some pre-prepared ingredients, to which you add fresh core ingredients) was also the subject of a book by Aussie chef Donna Hay.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Off-Shelf-Donna ... ef=sr_1_12

Good luck!

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QRM
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Postby QRM » Sat, 26 Apr 2014 2:31 pm

Culina has decent ones but not cheap! Or get really chummy with some Italian restaurant owners and they will sell you a box load when they bring it from overseas.

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Postby JR8 » Sat, 26 Apr 2014 4:12 pm

QRM wrote:Culina has decent ones but not cheap! Or get really chummy with some Italian restaurant owners and they will sell you a box load when they bring it from overseas.


http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/main ... sauce.html

Not suggesting you try making it yourself (from local tomatoes, not a lot of point), but you should be able to buy imported passata here, and it shouldn't be THAT expensive. The kind I have was bought in Europe, and is in 500gm tetra-paks, it cost cost peanuts, maybe under euro1/Kg*. I packed it as it is an ideal, unadulterated tomato base upon which you make your own sauces.

* Another candidate for the 'What to bring from the home-country' list ...

Refer: http://www.mysupermarket.co.uk/Shopping ... nd_Passata

If you see the Sainsburys passata at 80p for 500gms. If you 'mouse-over' the image, a pop-up opens showing Tesco have similar at 50p, and Aldi at 32p.

------
Edit to add: So it seems you get good passata here. http://www.thelittleteochew.com/2011/02 ... mpkin.html

'I have been using this brand of passata for years because I like that they use only Italian tomatoes which are free from skin and seeds, and contain nothing else but tomatoes and salt. I usually get mine from NTUC or Giant.

NTUC!? Lol! Maybe I needn't have brought any.

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Postby CaptainBullus » Sat, 26 Apr 2014 5:34 pm

Have you thought about growing your own if possible? Shouldn't be too difficult given the climate. I always use tinned toms for cooking even in the UK and only use fresh ones for salads etc. Can anyone comment on buying seeds online and getting them posted to SG, would there be an issue with customs?

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Postby JR8 » Sat, 26 Apr 2014 8:24 pm

CaptainBullus wrote:Have you thought about growing your own if possible? Shouldn't be too difficult given the climate. I always use tinned toms for cooking even in the UK and only use fresh ones for salads etc. Can anyone comment on buying seeds online and getting them posted to SG, would there be an issue with customs?


I've considered 'home-grown' (tomatoes lol).

It comes with the usual challenges though; not least the super-brutal climate. I was thinking of doing it in a say 10kg grow-bag on the balcony.

But then you might need some auto-irrigation system, as even in the west toms are very thirsty plants.

Then there's the greenfly/pests here, that flock to anything edible. Gawd forbid you went away for a week, the plant would be parched or eaten to bits. Hence the challenge pot-growing much stuff here.

p.s. I expect import of seeds is controlled.
http://www.ava.gov.sg/AgricultureFisher ... sOfPlants/

'AVA regulates the import of plants, plant products (seeds, endangered timber such as Aquilaria (agarwood) spp, Gonystylus (Ramin) spp, and American ginseng), foliages, potting medium (soil, potting mix, peat moss, sphagnum moss etc), fertilisers of plant origin, insects and microorganisms of agricultural importance and cut flowers from the American Tropics. This is to safeguard plant health and to prevent the introduction of exotic pests and diseases into the country.'

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Re: Anywhere to get good tomatoes?

Postby Beeroclock » Sat, 26 Apr 2014 10:35 pm

Berabouman wrote:I love to use tomatoes in cooking, but I can't find good ones at the supermarket in most cases, even Cold Storage. Usually they are Malaysian tomatoes which are fine for curries and soups, but not so good for pasta/stews IMHO. (A bit too sour)

I usually end up using canned tomatoes, which is not an ideal situation. :( Does anyone know where I can get better ones? (if they exist in Singapore, that is)
the colour of the Malaysian tomatoes is very pale , perhaps it's just cosmetic but it doesn't look right to me

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Postby CaptainBullus » Sun, 27 Apr 2014 4:59 am

"p.s. I expect import of seeds is controlled.
http://www.ava.gov.sg/Agricult.....sOfPlants "

I thought as much, maybe some might accidentally 'fall' into my luggage...
I've had a look at a few blogs and it does seem possible, guess I'll just have to give it a try!

Berabouman
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Postby Berabouman » Sun, 27 Apr 2014 9:21 am

Thanks for all the suggestions! I will check out the San Marzone ones here, I think that is probably the most viable choice for me right now. The passata might also be workable.


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