The best and cheapest tomatoes are in the shops at the same time the English crop ripens, from mid July to September.
Choose unblemished, deeply coloured tomatoes. Allow shop-bought tomatoes to ripen out of the fridge - even cheap orange supermarket tomatoes taste much better when given a week to turn deep red.
• Tomato leaves are toxic — the plant is related to deadly nightshade.
Yellow tomatoes are generally particularly sweet and low in acid.
When cooking tomatoes for a sauce, the calyx can be left in to give a herby flavour.
The finest tomato salads and salsas are made with peeled tomatoes. You will already know that the best way to loosen the skin is to drop the tomato into boiling water. But it is important not to leave the tomato in the water for too long: I have seen instructions recommending a full minute, by which time all but a green tomato would have started to soften, spoiling the texture of the salad. Don't wait for the skin to split open and the flesh to become waterlogged. The idea is to peel the tomato, not cook it. The heat should penetrate only just beneath the skin. Timing will depend on the ripeness of the fruit: in most cases less than twenty seconds, and for a very ripe tomato no more than five seconds. Take the tomato out of the water and plunge it straight into a bowl of cold water to stop the heat penetrating further. Then carefully peel off the skin: if it proves unyielding, you can always plunge the tomato back in the boiling water for another couple of seconds.