Capped with green streaks, with firm flesh and a slightly tart, full-bodied flavour.
Camone seeds were originally developed by a global Swiss agribusiness with the intention of producing high yielding plants with a particular resistance to pests. However, in the 1980s, a handful of Sardinian growers began cultivating Camone in conditions that hadn’t been anticipated. On the coast of Pula, the seeds were sown in sandy soil and then neglected. Scarcely watered, the stressed plants weren’t able to survive the hot summers. However, throughout the mild Sardinian winters, they simply grew more slowly, producing completely unique tomatoes with crunchy flesh and green streaks on the cusp.
The resulting tomato was completely different from what the Swiss agronomists had originally had in mind: watered only very occasionally with salty sea water, these Camone tomatoes developed a much more complex flavour. The compact seeds inside remained green and sharp, while the surrounding flesh ripened slowly, developing a counterbalance of sweet and salty notes. This happy accident quickly evolved into a growing technique in its own right. Over the years, these winter-specific methods have been refined so that tomato plants are subjected to just the right amount of stress to develop full-flavoured fruit.
For the first time this year, we are sourcing our Camone directly from a greenhouse in Sarroch, on the Southernmost tip of Sardinia. Although Sarroch is not traditionally associated with growing Camone, the soil in this coastal region is rich in minerals. The vines are tended by two sisters, Daniela and Elisabetta, who are exacting about the quality of their crop. They water their tomato plants very little - with a mixture of sea water & rain water that is continuously adjusted to get the level of salinity just right. As a result, the stressed plants produce Camone with crisp flesh and deep-green streaks. Harvested at their peak, they have a slightly tart, incredibly full-bodied flavour.
Although we have been sourcing Camone Tomatoes from Sardinia for almost a decade, these tomatoes have only very recently started to gain recognition in the UK, initially facing scepticism among chefs & consumers for whom tomatoes are a quintessential summer fruit. Then, in 2009, we started using the name “Winter Tomatoes” as an umbrella term for all the varieties of tomato are grown using specific techniques in cooler weather. Since then we have started to notice that attitudes are changing not only towards our Sardinian Camone, but also towards our green-streaked Marinda tomatoes from Sicily and dark-fleshed Black Iberico & ribbed Raf tomatoes from Spain.