The tomatoes are still green. Now what?

For most of the world, tomatoes eventually become a tasty red fruit that plays a crucial role in thousands of recipes around the world.

But what happens when the fruit fails to keep its part of the bargain and remains green?

End of season tomato color palette © thefoodwatchdog

Our bizarre weather has made the growth of tomatoes erratic this year because of the rain and flooding in the South and East, the droughts in the Southwest and the fact that in the Pacific Northwest, summer only began last week.

And now that fall is approaching, some gardeners are despairing. As a result, The Food Watchdog and other food information sites are getting swamped with questions from readers pleading for answers, theories, hard science, grandma’s old tricks and even wild guesses on what do with their mostly green crops.

Of course, we can fry or bake them or make green salsa.

Here is a link to a simple recipe to this mostly Southern fried tomato delight that Jolene George offered the readers of The Oregonian. 

Another of our readers suggested making green tomato relish and sang the praises of this recipe from, which I’m going to try this weekend.

With a little care, you can store green tomatoes wrapped in newspaper until they turn red.  It’s not the greatest flavor, but whenever I’ve tried it, it was still better than store bought – at least in the Northwest.

When you think you’ve reached the end of your growing season, remove the tomatoes that have even the slightest blush of pink or yellow color.

Place them in a cardboard box lined with newspaper or paper towels. You can lay a second layer of tomatoes – but no more – on top of another sheet of paper. Place the box away from direct sunlight in a pantry, garage, basement or any place where the temperature is between 65 and 75 degrees. Depending on the temperature, within a week to 10 days, you’ll have enticing red tomatoes.

If you’re lucky enough to harvest tomatoes ripe from the vine, the crew at the Cook’s Illustrated test kitchen has done research on how to make the most of them.

Their food scientists placed one batch of tomatoes stem-end up and another stem-end down on plates and stored them at room temperature.  The following week, nearly all the stem-down tomatoes remained in perfect condition, while the stem-up tomatoes had shriveled and were inedible.

Stored stem down Photo by Cook's Illustrated

Stored stem up Photo by Cook's Illustrated




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