It’s the end of the growing season, and perverse wench that she is, Mother Nature sent a cold blast last week which gave the garden a big bite of frost. And this week it’s a beautiful 70 degrees.
I picked as many green tomatoes before the frost as I could. If tomatoes are hit by air colder than 40 degrees, they will have no flavor, and even our row covers did not save them this time. (By the way, never store your fresh tomatoes in the fridge.) This sad situation resulted in a post so popular, even the Executive Office of the President popped in for advice. No, really.
Here’s just a few suggestions for what to do with your green tomatoes. Store them, ripen them, cook them!
1) Pull up entire plant from root and bring it indoors. Do this before it gets below 60 degrees. Hang in partial light and the fruit will continue to ripen on the vine, which will give you better taste.
2) Ripen the picked fruits indoors. Not my favorite solution, because tomatoes don’t taste as good when ripened off the vine. If they are close to ripeness, just stick them in a sunny window. Some people swear against this method, but the next method works for almost everybody.
If not an option, Carefully clean the fruits, wrap in newspaper and store in a cool dry place. Check every week for rot. Place apple in with the fruit. Apples produce ehtylene gas, which forces the tomatoes to ripen. Also a good tip if you are trying to chit potatoes.
3) If you have a favorite tomato sauce recipe and only a few red fruits, no worries. Throw those green tomatoes in that sauce. Add a 6 ounce can of tomato paste and a couple of tablespoons of sugar to cut the acid. I’ve used 10% red fruit to 90 % green fruit in sauce recipes and have had no loss of flavor. BTW, I never remove the skins or seeds. Run the final sauce through a blender to smooth it. I often make my sauce with at least one cup Merlot.
4) Fried green tomatoes: A Southern speciality, people act like it’s some kind of big secret to make. Fie. Just slice tomatoes, dip in scrambled raw egg. Then dip in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. I often add spices like rosemary as well. Some folks like cayenne pepper. Fry in olive oil for best health and flavor, until brown and soft. Yum! Other folks use corn meal instead of flour, but their mothers didn’t raise them right.
5) Green tomato saute: Chop tomatoes, saute in olive oil with chopped onion and a few tablespoons finely chopped garlic. Save yourself some grief and buy chopped garlic in a jar. Cook in pan until soft. Serve as a side dish.
6) Green tomato bread: The recipe I like is here. Surprisingly good, major winner as a tea bread. Easy to make and VERY tasty. Sounds absolutely ghastly, but you will be surprised. There is no tomato flavor. The fruit adds moisture to this recipe. Serve hot with butter, or cold alone. Sprinkle with white icing, or serve with cream cheese.
7) Easy green tomato pickles: Simplest recipe ever! If you like dill pickles, then you will have jars with juice left over. Don’t throw that dill juice away! Take your clean green tomatoes and put them in the dill juice. Put the covered jar in the fridge for two weeks. Eat! Very clean green flavor! You may plop those tomatoes in the jar whole, or cut them up. This is the best use of those little green cherry tomatoes. Keep stored in fridge. Will last a few weeks.
8) Green eggs and ham: Take green tomato saute and roll into scrambled egg with ham chunks. Very nice breakfast dish.
9) Green tomato pie: YUM! Great recipes here!
10) Green tomato saute a la Mexican: Use green tomato saute to cover a burrito like salsa. Add a little hot sauce. Top with sour cream. Or stir sour cream into saute (after pulling out of pan with slotted spoon to remove as much olive oil as possible.) Add crumbled bacon, lettuce and whatever else you like and stuff in pita pocket. Also tastes good with a dash of cilantro. Basically, the green tomato is a good substitute in any Mexican recipe for tomatillo.