Friday, October 19, 2012

What to Do With Green Tomatoes

Green tomatoes extend your tomato season as well as become tasty dishes in their own right. Before you expect the first frost, either cover your tomatoes with plastic, old sheets, shower curtains or rugs--anything to protect them--or give up and pick all the nice big green ones as well as the ripe red ones and bring them in the house for storage.

Storing on the Vine. Trudy Dorr, Lynden, WA, wrote me: "When freezing weather comes, I pull up the whole plant, root and all, and hang in porch, shed, attic, etc., and the tomatoes will ripen. This way I have tomatoes until at least Thanksgiving, and they taste the same as summer vine-ripened ones." Another reader has a similar system: "I cut all the vines off at the ground and haul them indoors, cages and all, and pile them on a drop cloth on my basement floor. I pick them there in my basement until November or December, when they're gone. Then I clean up the mess. Even the small ones ripen. I make these late ones into sauce."

Storing Off the Vine. You can also pull them off the vines to bring in. Anything that is big enough to have gotten to the glistening stage will eventually ripen. Spread them out in a place where they won't freeze and won't be damp. You can lay them on straw in cold frames (cover if needed) or on shelves. Tomatoes in storage will gradually ripen. They will taste like store-bought tomatoes rather than vine-ripened ones. But you'll have home-grown tomatoes for Thanksgiving dinner and fresh-sliced ones on the table, and that's worth a lot too. To hurry ripening, put an apple in with the tomatoes. 

Checking on Them. Check the tomatoes every couple of days, especially at first. Spread them out so they don't touch each other, that way you can quickly remove bad ones, and the rest will be unaffected.


I like these and this is the easiest way to fix green tomatoes. Slice your green tomatoes into about half-inch slices. Combine flour, salt, and pepper in a pie tin. Dip the tomato slices in the mix to get both sides well coated. Fry them in hot shortening on one side and then the other. Serve hot and right away. Or you can use an egg-and-flour coating. A little basil in the flour is also good.

Cut your tomatoes in about half-inch slices and arrange half of them in the bottom of a greased baking dish. Over that make a layer of small toasted bread cubes (use homemade bread), salt, pepper, and butter dots. Add a second layer of green tomatoes and then a second layer of everything else. Finally, sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese on top. Bake at 350° F until tender. 

This is a classic green-tomato dish. Cover 2 c. chopped green tomatoes with water, and bring to a boil. Drain. Add 1/2 c. brown sugar, 2 T. vinegar, 1/2 t. cinnamon, 1/2 c. chopped raisins, 3 T melted butter, 1/2 t. salt, 3 cloves, and 1/4 t. nutmeg. This makes a mock mince filling. Use a pie plate lined with a bottom crust. Add your mock mince. Put on a top crust, and slash to let steam escape. Crimp crust edge. Bake at 375° F about 40 minutes. 

For more green-tomato recipes, check out The Green Tomato Cookbook by Paula Simmons. Storey Communications offers a booklet, "52 Great Green Tomato Recipes!" Green tomatoes can be sliced and dried the same way as ripe ones.

[Adapted from the "Tomato" section of Chapter 4: Garden Vegetables. Illustration copyright 1994 by Cindy Davis.]


Janser said...

The growing season never lasts long enough to ripen all the tomatoes on the vine. Instead of tossing unripe tomatoes into the compost or eating fried green tomato sandwiches for weeks, try ripening the green tomatoes off the vine indoors. Or you can dig up the whole vine and allow the tomatoes to ripen on the plant in a cool, sheltered location.

Sasquatch Books said...

@Janser - you got it! Just like Carla's advice on storing it on- and off-the-vine in this post.

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