Green Tomatoes: Ripen Them, Compost Them or Eat Them?

>> Thursday, October 21, 2010

I still have a bunch of green Roma and Grape tomatoes hanging on in hopes of warmer weather that we know isn’t coming. I love fried green tomatoes, but tomatoes this small don’t lend themselves very well to being battered and fried, in my humble opinion.

When the chance of day time temps ever reaching above 60F again have decreased to nil, its time to yank them off the vine and either ripen them indoors, toss them on the compost pile, or cook them up as is. Much has been written about how to ripen your still green tomatoes at the end of the season but I choose to follow the plan C.

I already pinched all the flowers off these plants about 7-10 days ago and there really isn’t much hope left of getting any more this year, especially when our first real freeze is expected this weekend.

If you want to ripen them, there are several methods to choose from, you can take down the whole plant and hang it upside down somewhere such as in the garage to dry out, you can pick them all and place them on a sunny window sill, or wrap them individually in newspaper and layer in a box in a dark corner for 3-4 weeks. But, seriously, these are small tomatoes so I’m not taking this third route. And here’s something I just heard for the first time, place the green tomatoes in a brown paper bag with a ripe apple. The apple gives off ethylene gas, which speeds up ripening. Check the bag daily. I might try a few this way just so I know if it works.

So, on with the cooking them up. You can use them in a green tomato pie, green tomato marmalade, or, as I am going to do, in a soup, recipe follows.

Green Tomato Soup with Ham served with hot cornbread. Yum!
2 T butter
4-6 oz ham (smoked or whatever pleases you)
1 small onion,, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced (I just chop mine. Less work and it tastes just as good)
4 cups chicken broth
8 medium green tomatoes (couple handfuls of green grape tomatoes or green romas)
celery stalk, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat; add ham, onion, and garlic. Sauté, stirring, until onion is tender. Add chicken broth, chopped green tomatoes. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Working in batches, pulse in a blender or food processor until almost smooth. Pour back into the saucepan and add celery. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Taste and add salt, pepper and, if you want some heat add some Tabasco sauce.

Whichever way you handle your end of season jewels, keep in mind that tomatoes don’t have to be red to be enjoyed.


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