The tomato season is ending quickly. As of today, I don’t foresee many more ripe tomatoes coming off of the vine. I’ve had a good run: 110 lbs of ripe fruit in all! This was my first year weighing the harvest, so while I can’t make an accurate comparison to previous years, I think it is safe to say that it was my best year, ever.
It’s time now to focus on the unripe, green tomatoes. In an attempt to squeeze a few more ripe fruit from the harvest I’ve been nestling those that are nearly there inside paper bags. This sort of treatment isn’t exactly necessary, but with fruit flies still around, I find it easier to keep them off of the goods this way.
In my experience, not all green tomatoes will ripen by this method. The fruit that is really young and underdeveloped tends to go wrinkly and rot rather than ripening, so I reserve this process for the tomatoes that have a blush of colour and save the darker green fruit for eating fresh and preserving.
Eating & Preserving
My favourite way to eat green tomatoes straight off of the plant is batter fried. They are also delicious roasted in the oven. When it comes to preserving, my go-to is green tomato chutney. Everyone loves this condiment, and there is never a lack of friends available to take the surplus off of my hands. If you’re not interested in canning or only have a small batch to work with, you can cut the sugar (and some of the vinegar/acid) from my recipe and store it in the fridge short-term. My no-sugar added, short shelf-life, small-batch version is available in my first book, “You Grow Girl” (see page 154).
Dilled Green Tomatoes
This year, with such a large quantity on hand (I am predicting 20-30 lbs of green tomatoes), I have been seeking out new ways to use up the glut. As I write this, 7 pint-sized jars of pickled green tomatoes are processing in the canning pot. I’ve never tasted nor made pickled green tomatoes before, so while I can’t yet recommend this method of preserving, I also can’t imagine how it could go wrong. Most things taste good when pickled, even crab apples! Why not unripe tomatoes?
Because I have no taste experience with this pickle, I decided to forgo developing my own recipe and instead looked to existing recipes as a start. If I like how this turns out, I will try my hand at developing my own recipe in the future. To begin, I wanted to get the true taste of green tomatoes without a lot of spices or intense flavours added in, so I decided to base my first batch on the simple dilled pickle found in The Ball/Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving (page 319). However, because I had some odds and ends from the garden that I wanted to use up, I added a few ‘Egyptian Walking Onion’ bulbils (peeled first) and teeny ‘Chinese Ornamental’ hot peppers to each jar. I also aded some mustard seeds — I couldn’t help myself.
I can’t legally (or ethically) post the recipe from the book; however, I have found it online over here.
For some reason the Bernardin website does not include this recipe, but it does have a sweetened green tomato pickle that might be worth trying if you prefer. I had considered going that route initially, but was concerned that it might be too similar to my chutney.
I’ll let you know how it turns out in about a month, once the flavours have had some time to infuse into the tomatoes. Until then, I’d love to hear how you are using the green tomato glut from your garden.