The world is full of wonders, most of which you will never discover. When you
have had Isle of Wight and San Marzano tomatoes you think you have done ‘tomatoes’. Then you try Sicilian Marinda tomatoes and the world will never be the same again.
These tomatoes are from the Pachino region of Sicily and are harvested between February and May and for this reason they are known as winter tomatoes. We are told it is the water and salty soil of the region that gives them a flavour and texture rarely matched by other tomatoes. I do not know if it is the water and salty soil, but I have never eaten tomatoes of such amazing character. I will never be able to look any other tomato in the eye again!
Ideally, the tomatoes should be picked and eaten when they have a green shoulder. They have a thick skin, are lumpy and have dense flesh. These are not tomatoes to cook with; they are tomatoes to slice up (thinly) and relish the incredible texture and flavour which are so powerful you will be tasting and feeling them for hours afterward.
When you slice them up they seem pretty dense, not unlike a ripe nectarine; this is why you want to slice them thinly. Unlike most tomatoes, Marinda tomatoes do not require much, if any, salt on them; once they are sliced you can grab a sliver and get started on a flavour discovery.
By god do they taste of a lot! You first notice the firm, crunchy texture. Then comes a mixture of rich fruitiness, melons, rambutans and pears, and a vigorous astringency. Finally on the finish you get a lot of acidity. The acidity is not harsh but powerful nonetheless.
I should not have said ‘finally’ because these flavours and textures will haunt your palate for ages after you have finish your Marinda tomatoes and this is an absolute delight!
You can get these wondrous tomatoes from Natoora in the UK, and they stock a brilliant array of tasty delights, including the ’Nduja, which we will eat with relish with some of their cracking cockerel pasta tonight, amongst many other treats.
If you want to try Marinda tomatoes, which you do, you should hurry to Natoora! The season is nearing its end, and I am guessing they are at their peak right now.