Best Of-Uses for Green Tomatoes

In honor of the Tomato Fest at Everyday Food and Away to Garden, I am reposting these delicious tips and recipes on how to use up green tomatoes. We always wind up with tons of green tomatoes because the growing season is too short here in Upstate NY for all of them to ripen up. This post was originally published late last September.

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It’s the time of year around here when the tomato plants are still producing, but nighttime frost is threatening. Eventually we all get to the point where the wise person gives in to fate and just picks everything that is left off of the vine and composts the plant.

But what to do with all of those green tomatoes?

First off, you can always leave them out to ripen. I have childhood memories of my mom laying green tomatoes out in a large, shallow square basket in our bay window to ripen. I do much the same myself these days, laying a single layer out on the table where they can get some sun. If you need more specific directions, Colorado State Extension has a very informative article on Ripening That Huge Crop of Green Garden Tomatoes.

Then you can actually use them in their green state as an ingredient.

The classic is Fried Green Tomatoes. I simply slice a big beefsteak tomato fairly thin (less than 1/4 inch), dip them in flour, then in egg, then in cornmeal, and fry them in a little oil in a skillet. Try not to move them too much at first or the “crust” can break off. Also, if you slice them too thick they won’t cook all the way through fast enough. Experiment!

Last year I found a delicious recipe for Green Tomato Bread. This is a moist sweet bread along the lines of zucchini bread-and it is NOT low calorie. But it is yummy.

Green Tomato Bread

3 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
1 TBS Cinnamon
2 Large Eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups chopped green tomatoes (approx 2) Don’t peel or seed.

Preheat oven to 350, and grease and flour 2 bread pans.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center.

In a small bowl lightly beat eggs, add vegetable oil and vanilla.

Pour liquid ingredients into well in the center of dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Gently mix in green tomatoes.

Divide evenly into the two loaf pans, and bake for 1 hour-until a toothpick come out of the center clean. Cool well before storing.

If pickles are more your style, I found a recipe this year for “Fireballs” which are spicy green pickled cherry tomatoes. I can’t vouch for the taste of this one yet-they are made and canned but the flavor needs to “develop” for a month or so before I try them.

Fire Balls

enough small green cherry tomatoes to fill 4 qt. jars
4 garlic cloves
4 celery stalks
4 hot red peppers
4 heads dill
1 qt water
1/2 c pickling salt
2 qt white vinegar

As in any canning recipe, start by preheating your jars and your canning water.

Prick each green cherry tomato with a clean (sterilized) needle several times. This prevents them from splitting in cooking, and I think it helps the flavor to soak in. I did this the night before and stored them in the fridge in a large zippered bag.

Fill 4 hot quart jars with green cherry tomatoes.

To each jar add a stalk of celery, a hot pepper, a clove of garlic and a head of dill. (I used 4 pint jars, added one of each, substitution a sprig of lovage for celery, 2 slices of jalepeno for the red chili, and a 1/2 tsp of frozen dillweed for the head of dill*)

Make a brine by combining water, pickling salt and vinegar in a pot and bringing it to a boil. Fill jars with brine to 1/2″ from top. Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath.

I have also found that green tomatoes can be chopped and added to many stir fries and curries. Last year I chopped them and froze them in 1 cup portions, and added them with no problem to those dishes.

Do you need more ideas? When I went to my favorite recipe site, Recipezaar, has over 140 recipes for green tomatoes

*Note-canning books are constantly pointing out that you shouldn’t change recipes for water bath canning (doesn’t matter for pressure canning) as it can cause them to be unsafe if you change the balance of non acidic food to acidic food. I personally felt comfortable doing this as the tomatoes are all acidic, and they are being canned in a brine that is highly acidic. You have to make your decisions based on your comfort level.

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  1. Steph at Problem Solvin' Mom says

    Not only will this be fabulous for me when the growing season comes to an end WAY too soon this year (we got a late start, romas are just coming on, no ripe beefsteaks yet-sniffle) BUT also Sweetpea loves to pick tomatoes and she doesn’t discriminate so we have several green tomatoes lying out right this minute 😉

  2. Anonymous says

    Cool recipes! We used to live in Watertown, NY a while back. One of the things we did right before a frost was to pull up the entire tomato plant, with the tomatoes still attached, and hang it upside down in the garage. Sounds weird, but it works!
    Take care!

  3. Jenn @ Frugal Upstate says

    Steph-ahhh, help from little fingers, isn’t it great? Try the bread first!

    Anon-I might try hanging one up this fall as an experiment. Great tip!

    Sara-Actually, I did mention Fried Green Tomatoes, I just didn’t write it out as a recipe :) I love them with a bit of cornmeal. . . yummmmm

  4. Jenn @ Frugal Upstate says

    Elizabeth-I’ll be making some myself soon! They are yummy-not healthy, but yummy (well,not too bad but taste best if really fried!)

    Jerry-try out the fireballs, but let them set a couple of months so the hot pepper steeps through.

  5. Jo says

    Here’s another one for you to try:
    Fried Green Tomato Parmesean
    Fry your tomatoes as you would for the traditional fried green tomato. Then layer them with tomato sauce and mozzarella and Parmesan cheese (as much as your diet will allow). Bake as per a regular casserole – 345degrees for 30 minutes (maybe?) (I tend to be an “in the ballpark” type of cook.) I have made this already and we have eaten it and loved it! If you want to ‘beef it up’ a bit, add some browned hamburger to your tomato sauce before assembly. Yummy.
    I’ve still got some smaller tomatoes to use up, so I’m going to give your Green Tomato Bread a try. Thanks!

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