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Ever Tasted a Green Zebra?

Date: 18/05/2005 | Posted by John Garton
If not, you could try one this weekend. Green zebras – along with yellow pears, piccolos and dashers – are just some of the tomato varieties shoppers can try at tastings organised by the Genuine Jersey Products Association to mark British Tomato Week.

As well as savouring the different varieties, islanders can learn more about the wide variety of tomatoes grown in the Island.

An in-store tasting will take place in Checkers supermarket, La Rue des Pres, from 6pm on Friday until about midday on Saturday. And on Sunday, Stanley Payn, one of Jersey’s largest tomato growers is hosting a Tomato Open Day at Fauvic Nurseries in Grouville. Stanley, who supplies tomatoes for Sainsbury’s ‘Taste The Difference’ range, grows 20 different varities and all are ripened on the vine for a better flavour.

Stanley says: “In recent years tomatoes have experience something of a revival and that is largely due to the huge variety now available in the supermarkets. The days when you could only buy the classic tomato are over – now consumers have a wide variety of choice and because of the different flavours and tastes they can be used in so many ways.”

Visitors to Fauvic will have the chance to look around the glasshouses and see this year’s crop growing.

“We use bumblebees to pollinate and we control pests biologically so that we grow the most environmentally friendly tomatoes that we can. There are more than 2,000 bumble bees in the glass houses at any one time and the bees will pollinate over 25 million flowers during the season,” Stanley says.

Produce controller for Checkers Steve Martel says: “Because the range of tomatoes is now so great we want to give our shoppers the chance to experience the different flavours and varieties. Instead of buying the same type of tomato every week we hope this tasting will give people the chance understand more about what’s available.

“Our shelves are now stocked with a huge variety from plum, beef, cherry and round tomatoes. Tomatoes which are sold on the vine are one of the biggest growth areas and we hope Saturday’s tasting will give shoppers the chance to try something different.”

As well as tasting good and being versatile, tomatoes also contain lots of health protecting nutrients - vitamins, minerals and natural pigments, not least lycopene, which makes ripe tomatoes red. The British Tomato Growers Association claims there is a lot of medical evidence that lycopene can reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.