Seasonal Food in Turkey – Domates – Ugly Fruit

Before we’d ever been to Turkey, neither of us could really see the point of fresh tomatoes. They were the occasional sandwich filler and nothing else. Watery, hard, tasteless, orange things. (We know some people can get hold of good tomatoes in Britain but in our neck of the woods, there’s no such thing.)

Turkish Tomatoes

Turkish summer tomatoes are huge

However, on coming to Turkey, we soon realised the error of our ways. This is our favourite time of year when it comes to purchasing tomatoes from Fethiye and Çalış markets because the intense heat in the sun means big, fat, meaty tomatoes. We can’t get enough of them. They’re very cheap at the moment and we have a constant supply in the fridge for salads, sandwiches and cooking. How we ever managed without these tomatoes in Britain, we’ll never know – oh yeah, we had to buy tinned tomatoes and countless tubes of tomato puree to cook with. Groan.

We’ve called it ‘ugly fruit’ in the title because this is what the EU is always chuntering on about for what Eurozone supermarkets are allowed to have on their shelves with regards to fruit and vegetables. Us Brits are used to seeing row upon row of shiny, perfectly formed, expensive fruit and vegetables shrink wrapped in cling film or presented to us in depressing polystyrene trays.

Those days will come to Fethiye at some point – they’re already in evidence in the supermarkets – but as long as the markets are there, we’ll be there. And as long as the big, misshaped tomatoes of varying shades are for sale, we’ll be buying them!

Fethiye Tomatoes

Definitely pleasing to the eye

At first glance, these tomatoes are most definitely an ‘ugly fruit’ and wouldn’t be allowed any where near a Eurozone supermarket shelf. Great. All the more for us. It was a friend who’s lived in Turkey for around 20 years who told us the ugly looking tomatoes were usually the best ones and she was right. Fewer seeds, vibrant red colours inside and one tomato goes a long way.

We had a ready-cooked roast chicken for tea tonight so I sliced one ugly tomato up and made a tomato and onion salad to go with it. A bit of thyme, olive oil and vinegar drizzled over the top…and I’ve just realised, looking at this photo, I forgot to put some basil on too. Still good though and we’ve still got a couple of kilos of tomatoes left in the fridge that can benefit from our lovely basil, currently growing outside in a pot by the front door.

And for an even tastier salad, check out Barry’s tomato salad recipe. This is our favourite!

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  1. Anonymous says

    We went to the beach with Turkish friends when we were out resently. We stopped off at the fruit and veg market to buy the ingredients for the salad and he picked up the ugliest scarred tomatoes he could find – “why are you getting these look at the state of them” I asked – “These have been grown in a field and not in the greenhouse they taste much better” -That was me told, and he was right!

  2. Glad it’s not just us then. The greenhouse ones are lovely, shiny and red but don’t have the flavour or the consistency of the field ones. Although the greenhouse ones still taste 100 times better than the British ones!

  3. These are my basic fridge stock when I go to the market.As long as I have a couple of kilos and a bag of pasta we have always got a meal.
    You are right about the taste too, can you imagine trying to make a pasta sauce out of the anemic offerings we get in England.

  4. That’s why we used to always go through loads of tubes of tomato puree and spices. We know people who grow their own tomatoes in England and they’re good so why can supermarkets not sell ’em? You should start a campaign :))

  5. Excellent post! You’ve just reminded me of the tomatoes my grandfather used to grow when I was a child. Very much like the one in your photo, huge, misshapen and sometimes even ugly, but full of wonderful flavour. It’s a real shame this type of seasonal produce never makes it to the supermarket shelves, but hopefully that will change soon with the huge revival of farmers’ markets everywhere.

  6. Yeah, hopefully the farmers’ markets will rescue real fruit and vegetables! Seasonal produce is the new ‘fashion’ in the UK and hopefully, it will become the norm again.

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