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Page last updated at 10:15 GMT, Friday, 26 March 2010
Can you turn a tomato into wine?
Tomato growers
The tomato was one of Guernsey's main exports in the 20th century.

For most of the 20th Century Guernsey was famed for its horticulture industry, and particularly tomato growing.

Growers came up with many different uses for the fruit, but one of the most interesting of these was making wine.

Several attempts were made at making the wine a commercial venture, though they all seemed to fail.

This was largely put down to the wine's flavour which was said to be less than favourable.

Pete's tomato wine recipe
You need the flesh of about four lbs of tomatoes, no pips or skin.
Chop up the flesh into small pieces and add four lbs of sugar and 10 pints of water.
Bring this to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
Let cool down until just tepid and add live yeast.
Then take a demijohn and fill with all the fluid and put in the neck an air lock and leave to ferment in a dark place with a constant temp of 16°C.
When the fermentation has finished add a couple of camden tablets to make sure the fulminator has stopped.
Rack off the clear fluid and fill bottles and cork.

Jurat Mike Tanguy was chairman of the Tomato Marketing Board in the early 1970s when they were approached about the possibility of marketing tomato wine and they were given bottles to sample.

He said: "We offered everybody a tot of wine at the next board meeting... it was pretty awful - the acidity was very high, it was very disappointing."

Mike went on to say that he heard up to 5000 bottles were made but the marketing board decided not to promote the product.

This though was not the only attempt to make the wine as part of a commercial enterprise as tomato wine was later available from the Tomato Museum in King's Mills.

When Ken Rowe set up the museum, along with Ron Machon in 1974, he said he made 250 gallons of tomato wine based on a family recipe, to sell to visitors to the museum.

He explained that they called their wine Aztecato after the Aztecs who it is believed first cultivated the crop, but he did admit that his brew "didn't taste too good", but that did not stop them selling all 250 gallons.

While opinion on the flavour of the wine was mixed, the common opinion was that in appearance it was just like any other white wine and those who sampled certain brews of it said that in smell and taste it was very similar to a normal medium to sweet white wine.

Have you ever tried tomato wine? What did you think of it?


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John Hawley, Norfolk:

I made Tomato wine in the late 60s early 70s.

At the time I worked at the Marconi Crompton works, in Chelmsford Essex. I had a few failures, but I suceeded in the end, a lot of the men at Marconi should remember it, it did not taste of Tomato or look like it but it was a plesant product. and very clear, I found the secret was in the filtering, maybe I will make some more this year.

Bertram Falla, Birmingham:

I've never actually tried tomato wine myself but I do know that in 1989 when the BBC visited Guernsey for their Holiday programme, the reporter Anna Gregg sampled it and remarked how palatable it was. Perhaps she was just putting it on for the camera though...

Jane Livermore, Vale:

I will find it hard to forget when we tried tomato wine in about 1987. We bought it after a visit to the Tomato Museum and while I seem to remember the price was fantastic (could it have been 99p a bottle?) the taste and 'nose' was less so. Essence of growbag! Sorry but I remember it quite clearly. Nevertheless it made for a fun part of our visiting family and friends' holidays that year.




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