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Tomato shortage? Not a disaster

Sun, 26 February, 2023

Tomato shortage! My God, what are we going to do??? Aldi and Morrisons are rationing them three per customer, and peppers, raspberries and lettuce are also going scarce! Famine!

The shortage is caused naturally, however bizarre it might seem to Aldi customers: cold weather in Spain and Morocco. Domestic growers on the other hand struggle enough already with the increased electricity prices and so they have had to cut down on winter crops. That’s right: no more tomatoes can be grown in January! How bizarre!

I really have no more time for both the alarmist media for whom everything is the end of the world scale disaster, and the stupid, spoilt people who expect raspberries aplenty in the middle of February. I asked someone I know, complaining she could get no strawberries, why on earth would she want them in winter. Turns out her little one loves them! Awww! Right - and that little one is going to grow up expecting all the fruit and vegetables available everywhere all at once. It makes me want to scream, honestly.

Little Rosie would like strawberries even better if she only got them in the strawberry season. How about in the meantime weaning her onto apples and oranges, when they are plentiful? They’ll be gone when the time for strawberries come. It’s called seasonality and it’s useful to know. We’ll never learn to value food and thus waste less of it in the first world if the attitude of MUST HAVE NOW towards all the produce, however seasonal, is going to persist.

If you want tomatoes for dinner, get a tin. It might surprise you that the tinned ones are tastier and riper than Isle of Wight’s best. And in cooking the results are more than likely to be better with tins than the watery and miserable, air-flown fruit from God knows where. If on the other hand you want a tomato slice in a sandwich or a salad, get over it and grab a jar of pickles. Fibre - tick, and the nutritional value of gherkins really won’t be worse than tomatoes at this time of year.

And it’s really not as if there’s no produce available. Apart from frozen vegetables which also are nutrients-richer than whatever wilts on supermarket shelves, there are plenty domestically grown ones. Carrots, beetroot, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, leeks, celeriac, mushrooms and cabbage – and this list is not complete.

Simply think beyond boiled carrots and cabbage (and ignore the turnip advice) and you’ll find your family eating well and not suffering in the slightest from the dearth of tomatoes. Winter root vegetables can be eaten raw, too: like the winter rainbow salad, celeriac remoulade or the classic coleslaw. You can even have Brussels sprouts raw in a brilliant salad: thinly shaved and tossed with walnuts. With the obvious, most delicious and healthiest winter choice of a side to serve with baked brill for instance: a crunchy cabbage salad.

Instead of roasted Mediterranean vegetables, you can do the root ones in winter. If you try roast root vegetables with bulgur, or cheesy autumn tian I’m sure you’ll stop yearning for peppers and aubergines.

Cabbage can make a great one-pan meal of Swedish kalpudding, a pork and cabbage meatloaf. And the quick red cabbage is a side not only for Christmas.

Mushrooms are available all year round so you can cook a vegetarian mushroom ragu for pasta, or grab a jar of fabulous dried porcini and make a spelt risotto with them.

I could go on and on, but will only just mention fruit at the end now, and it’s not only apples. Use pears with pumpkin seeds and halloumi for a salad or combine them with parsnips and sausages in a tray bake. And bake a sticky pear and ginger cake for dessert. I rest my case.

Happy cooking with seasonal veg!

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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