Tomato season has well and truly kicked in for Heather and Hugh Armstrong of Coopers Shoot Tomatoes.

For the past few weeks their stall at the market has been heaving with their renowned ripe red tomatoes, and Heather says there’s plenty more to come.

“We have an abundance at the moment – there’s just red everywhere,” Heather said.
She says a late planting, mild winter and the warmer spring weather contributed to the glut, which is unusual for this time of year.

“They’ve come through the winter and now they’re just full on.”

It’s great news for customers, who’ve been able to pick up some bargain bulk buys of so-called ‘seconds’.

“We pick pretty much every day,” explained Heather, “so what happens is the fresh stuff goes to the market, and then on to the next market as seconds. I don’t even call them seconds because they’re still really good tomatoes, but they go as a special, and at the moment it’s two kilos for $6 or $3.90 a kilo.

“They’re actually really good quality tomatoes. Some people are buying them and just eating them as fresh because they’re lasting. “

She says others are using them for soups and sauces.

“Because we’ve got so many we’ve been finding it hard to get them all off the vine. Some of them have been hanging there for three weeks, so they’re rich and red and full of flavour.

“This is the time to get them, make a big batch up and freeze it. It’ll last for ages,” Heather said

“I just get some tomatoes, splash on some olive oil salt and pepper and lots of garlic, then slow roast them. I don’t take the skins off, I just either mash them in a chunky soup or blend them into a sauce.”

Heather says their other tomato varieties are also starting to come on now, including the yellow, red and black cherry tomatoes and Romas. Heather’s popular heirlooms will back in November, including a few new varieties for lovers of traditional tomatoes, and the capsicums – including the tricolour minis – are also on the way.

• 2 kg ripe Coopers Shoot Tomatoes
• 2 red onions
• 1 head garlic
• Fresh thyme stalks
• Olive oil/salt and pepper
• Sprinkle of caster sugar
Place all ingredients in an oven proof dish and toss gently. Bake on low oven for two hours. Remove the stalks, squeeze garlic from its shell and blend till smooth. Add a swish of balsamic and crumbled feta. Serve with crusty bread.

• Find Coopers Shoot Tomatoes at the New Brighton Farmers Market every Friday.