The tomato that’s always ripe: Kumato promises plenty flavour and big benefits

Nov 11, 2019
The Kumato is a natural mix of wild and traditional tomato varieties. Source: Getty

Have you spotted those dark brownish-red tomatoes? That’s a Kumato. Originating in Europe, the Kumato is a natural mix of wild and traditional tomato varieties. Its colour actually ranges from a golden green to a deep brownish-red when ripe.

While most of us would not dream of eating unripened green tomatoes, these exotic-looking tomatoes can be eaten at any stage of the ripening process, MasterChef star Ben Milbourne explains.

“Each stage of ripeness brings with it unique textures and tastes – all of which can be enjoyed and provide fantastic opportunities to experience with delicious flavour pairing,” he tells Starts at 60.

Not to mention, they are also low in calories and a great source of nutrients, including potassium, magnesium and vitamins A and C. Kumato tomatoes are also rich in lycopene – a carotenoid believed to reduce the risk of cancer.

But if you haven’t seen this kind of tomato before, knowing how to use it in a variety of meals so it doesn’t feel too repetitive can be difficult. With Ben’s help, we’ve looked at how to get the best out of these one-of-a-kind tomatoes.

As such, the celebrity chef has some interesting ideas you may not have already tried.

He says these tomatoes have such an intense flavour on their own that it’s best to keep any dressing simple and not too overpowering.

“My favourite is to dress Kumato tomatoes with regular light olive oil and a little sprinkle of sea salt,” he says. “A bolder extra virgin olive oil is not necessary.”

Unlike most other varieties which must be eaten ripe, Kumato tomatoes are at their most flavoursome in their earlier stages of ripeness – when it has a dark green skin.

“When Kumato tomatoes are in their earlier stages of ripeness (brown on the bottom and green on top), they are full of flavour and have a wonderful firm texture that holds together well,” he explains. “It makes them ideal for cutting and salads.”

When it comes to whipping up a delicious salad, Ben adds its best to pair Kumato tomatoes with ingredients that have a savoury taste like halloumi cheese or a nice salty feta.

“The great thing about the Kumato is that it has a slight acidity as well as sweetness, which means cooking with them is about balancing flavours,” he explains.

Meanwhile Kumato tomatoes get sweeter as they ripen, Ben explains, adding, “A ripe Kumato is perfect for cooking.” He reckons the sweet flavour of these tomatoes work great in a rich pasta sauce or simply roasted.

To retain its robust flavour, Ben says it’s always best to store them at room temperature on the kitchen bench, adding: “Refrigerating a Kumato will affect the natural sugars and it won’t be as sweet.”

Cooking to impress? Here’s a delicious salad recipe from Perfection Fresh developed with Ben.

Tuna nicoise salad

Ingredients

  • 200g early Kumato tomatoes (choose those with a brown bottom and green top)
  • Sea salt flakes, to taste
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • ½ small red onion thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for the tuna
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tuna steaks (or 2 small tins of tuna)
  • A handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Crusty bread to serve, optional

Method

  1.  Slice the Kumato tomatoes, lay on two plates and sprinkle with sea salt flakes. Mix the capers, red onion, olive oil and vinegar, and season. Spoon on top of the Kumato tomatoes and leave for 10 minutes.
  2. Brush the tuna steaks with oil and some seasoning, then leave for 5 minutes to come to room temperature.
  3. Heat a heavy frying pan or griddle on a medium-high heat until hot, then sear the tuna steaks for 1-2 minutes on each side depending on the thickness. Take off the heat and rest for 2 minutes.
  4. Place the tuna on top of the Kumato salad, and sprinkle with parsley. If you like, serve with crusty bread.

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