Sustainable Living: Green Tomatoes

A combination of unfortunate weather and late planting conspired together this year to leave a lot of unripened tomatoes on our various vines. All told, when we went out on Saturday to pick the last of the fruit from the vine, we picked over 30 pounds of tomatoes, the vast majority of which were ‘green’.

So, what do we do with over 20 pounds of green tomatoes? They’re unsuitable for any normal application of tomatoes, since they’re more tart than sweet (raw they taste sort of like apples). While one of the ladies we ran into at the garden suggested Green Tomato Pie, we weren’t quite daring enough to go that route. Instead, Catherine spent some time coming up with a few recipes: Green Tomato Ketchup, Sweet Green Tomato Pickles, and Sour Green Tomato Pickles. Between those, we’re going to be rolling in Green Tomato for quite a while.

For the Green Tomato Ketchup: Chop Tomatoes and some White onions, layering them in a pot, adding salt to each layer. Let this soak overnight. The next morning, pour out the liquid and rinse everything well. It’s incredibly salty right now, and you don’t want all that salt in the final product. Add Vinegar and Sugar to the mix and boil, the onion and tomato will break down. Then just can and go. Green Peppers, Onion Seed, Coriander, and Garlic can all make welcome additions, but as with most things, I’d suggest starting basic before you start experimenting too much.

For the pickles, Catherine chose to use our green Yellow Pear tomatoes, at least partially because my Mom is such a fan. Actually, the recipe for these are almost identical to the ketchup, though allspice apparently makes a welcome addition to the herbage added after the brine. Also, you’ll want to cut the tomatoes larger. With our Yellow Pears and Gold Nuggets, we just halved them and left it at that.

Gardening and Sustainability force you to reconsider a lot of things. While I’d never even consider buying green tomatoes from the grocery store, with the Garden it’s more likely we’re going to end up with produce that we can still use, that we wouldn’t have normally bought. People have been doing this for years, and it’s only responsible that we keep this knowledge alive. I shudder to think about how many unripened tomatoes are left to rot in the big commercial farms every year, as I can think of very few commercial foods that use green tomatoes, even though they can certainly have a good place in your kitchen.