Once the tomato season begins to slow down and the weather cools, you’ll likely try to get all of your remaining fruits to ripen as quickly as you can. While there are ways to speed up the ripening process, you’re bound to end up with a couple of unripened tomatoes, or many.
Luckily, these can be put to good use in the kitchen too.
Unripe tomatoes are usually firm and tart. They have a different taste to a ripe red tomato, and this is what makes using them in savory dishes appealing.
This category doesn’t include heirloom types that are naturally green like ‘Aunt Ruby’, ‘Green Zebra’ or ‘Cherokee Green’. Most green tomato recipes (especially the pickled versions) rely on a firmer flesh that comes with the unripened stage and doesn’t merely describe the green color of the fruits.
To make the most of your harvest this year, here are some of the best recipes to try for your next batch of unripe tomatoes.
1. Fried Green Tomatoes
Perhaps one of the most famous recipes using green tomatoes is Fried Green Tomatoes. This recipe has an interesting history, coming from Jewish immigrants to America and adopted by southern cooks after the 1970s as a true southern dish.
But it wasn’t until the release of the novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg in 1987 (and the following adapted movie Fried Green Tomatoes in 1991) that using an unripe green tomato really became famous internationally. You could say that the movie put Fried Green Tomatoes on the map.
Fried green tomatoes are made using thick slices of tomato, dredged in a flour and spice mix – usually hot Cajun spice — then dipped in beaten egg and coated in cornmeal. They are then deep-fried until crispy. Each cook will add a little twist like adding buttermilk or breadcrumbs, parmesan, mozzarella cheese, or cilantro.
For a truly authentic Southern Style Fried Green Tomatoes, try Heidy’s recipe that has roots from her southern family going back 200 years.
2. Pickled Green Tomatoes
The second most popular use of unripe green tomatoes is for pickling. Used in a similar style to any other pickles, they are then added to sandwiches with deli meats, added to potato salads for an extra punch, used as a burger relish, or just eaten straight out of the jar.
The combination of vinegar, water, salt and sugar is the basic pickling juice. From there, the extra flavor comes from any of your favorite spices like coriander seeds, peppercorns, star anise, chilies, cinnamon sticks, garlic, mustard seeds, or dill. Check out Cheryl’s quick and easy pickle recipe here.
3. Green Tomato Gazpacho
This warm-weather cold soup is packed with flavor and is a great use of those green tomatoes you have been collecting. A mixture of green tomatoes and cucumber is flavored with garlic, shallots, lemon, and vinegar. Add a fiery heat with a jalapeño or two, depending on how brave you are. This is a super simple recipe to make and it is bound to be a crowd-pleaser at your next pool party.
Cara shares her recipe here.
4. Green Tomato Jam
One of the best ways of preserving a bumper harvest of green tomatoes is to make it into jam. Grab some bottles with good lids and you can turn pounds of green tomatoes into a delicious jam that can be used on anything including breakfast cereals or porridge with dollops of plain yogurt.
There are several spices that can be used in this jam including cinnamon, vanilla and ginger, each giving the jam a slightly different flavor. Turn your Green Tomato Jam into gifts from the garden by adding a label and a string ribbon.
This Green Tomato Jam recipe from Maryline is simple and easy to make, yet still packed with flavor.
5. Green Tomato Salsa
For those with piles of green tomatoes that prefer spicy over sweet, you can also use your harvest to make a delicious green tomato salsa.
Canned and stored for the cooler months, salsa is the perfect way to heat up dishes when it’s cold outside. You can also use fewer tomatoes and make a single batch fresh, kept in the fridge and devoured in a couple of days.
Toss it on some tacos, use it as a dip with crackers, or pair it with your favorite pork or fish dish. Cheryl has a great salsa recipe, completed in only four steps.
6. Fermented Green Tomatoes
The process of lacto-fermentation is well known for things like sauerkraut and kimchi, but there is a host of other vegetables and fruits that also use the process of breaking down the sugars in the foods to form lactic acid, including green tomatoes.
You can add many different flavors to your jar of goodness including herbs like dill, thyme, and rosemary, and flavors like garlic, peppercorns, ginger and chilies to make it spicier. All you need is a good salt and natural water to get the bacteria working on the sugars.
After 4-7 days you can enjoy a tasty snack straight from the jar or add to your next sandwich or cheese platter. Colleen experimented with her harvest of green tomatoes and you can follow the results with her Lacto-fermented Green Tomatoes.
7. Green Tomato Relish
Green tomatoes, onions and sweet peppers are the perfect mix of flavor and taste combinations, working well in any recipe. Throw in some vinegar and your favorite spices and you have the makings of a wonderful tomato relish.
An essential condiment on hot dogs and hamburgers, this recipe can be made in large batches to can and save for later, or simply eaten straight away. Try making it for large family events and see the delight on people’s faces when you mention the ingredients came straight from the garden.
For step-by-step instructions on how to make relish, including information on canning, check out Cheryl’s recipe.