Garden Lifestyle

How to use Green Tomates

A bumper crop of green tomatoes signals the end of the gardening season and the beginning using these green gems in my cooking.

A basket of green tomatoes hints at the variety of delicious recipes that await creative cooks.
Photo/Illustration: Jodi Torpey

I’m ready to hang up my gardening gloves for the season, but my tomato plants aren’t quite ready to quit yet. Even though night-time temperatures are dropping into the 40s, some of my tomato plants are still covered in blossoms. It won’t be long until the first freeze claims the last brave tomato vines still full of green tomatoes.

Before that can happen, I’ll hurry into the veggie garden and pick all the remaining green gems that won’t have time to ripen on the vine. It’s a welcome end-of-season ritual because it signals the end of the gardening season and the beginning of using green tomatoes in my cooking.

Generations of creative cooks have made the most of this harvest by using green tomatoes in all kinds of recipes. Green tomatoes can be sautéed, stewed, roasted, fried, made into relish or chutney, stirred into soup, baked into bread or cake, and preserved by canning or freezing. There are hundreds of recipes available online that show I’m not the only gardener who appreciates tomatoes still wrapped in green.

Once all the green fruit is harvested, I sort the tomatoes according to size and color.

Mature green tomatoes are a good size and have started to change color from green to a light white or barely pink. Because these tomatoes will eventually ripen, I wrap them individually in newspaper and keep them in a cool, dark cupboard. Over several weeks, I’ll check their progress every few days. I look forward to opening up each little bundle and always feel like I’ve won a nice prize when I find a bright red tomato hiding inside.

In sorting through the remaining immature green fruit I stack them in piles depending on how I plan to use them. Some of the larger ones will be cut into quarters, placed in a roasting pan, drizzled with olive oil, and slow roasted for several hours. I’ll refrigerate this batch to use as a condiment to accompany meat or curry dishes.

Smaller green tomatoes will be washed, cored, and diced for freezing in convenient two-cup packets. These chopped tomatoes have a future as a tasty veggie to be tossed or blended into vegetable soup, sautéed and added to omelets or other egg recipes, simmered into stews, or baked into other dishes that benefit from their bright, piquant flavor.

With careful planning, I’ll be able to enjoy my green tomatoes until it’s time to plant some more.

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