By Emma Grace Fairchild:
Summertime tomatoes, in all their multicolored, juicy glory, deserve all the credit they get in culinary magazines and recipe blogs. This doesn’t mean, though, that we should ignore the early stages of this savory fruit: a firm, sour, green tomato has incredible potential for culinary applications and creative recipes. I find myself racing the first frosts of autumn, seeing how long I can leave tomatoes ripening on their vines before a solid cold night comes along and they’re ruined. This year our garden was extremely productive and I have been processing tons of ripe tomatoes for the freezer as well as eating as many as possible. But it wasn’t long before I was out there harvesting and wondering to myself, “How can I use all of these green ones?” After some research and exploration in the kitchen, I have some tasty ideas to share.
I don’t believe it’s very common to see green tomatoes in the grocery store, but they would be much more likely to be available at farm stands, a CSA, or in a garden! These recipes are specifically for green, unripe tomatoes, notthe husk-covered relative, tomatillos. The type of tomato shouldn’t matter in the following recipes.
Although this recipe makes a big batch and takes you through the canning process, you definitely could make a smaller batch and keep it in the fridge for up to three months! Try using it on home-baked sweet potato fries, as a sauce on a veggie burger, or as a dip for crudites.
This couldn’t be easier in theory: wash green tomatoes and pack whole into a jar with some garlic and spices; cover with a 5% salt brine; and let it do it’s thing on a counter somewhere until it smells good and is tangy, salty and sour. The biggest trial with wild fermenting any vegetable is avoiding mold — the tomatoes must be completely covered by the brine. I check every few days just to be sure, and push down any floaters with a clean spoon.
This baked recipe is a tasty homage to the familiar deep fried variety. Using panko breadcrumbs makes these extra crunchy and baking them allows you to control the amount of oil you use, although you could try to pan-fry these instead in a bit of high-temperature-safe oil, like coconut or canola.
These pickles will have a totally different taste than a fermented pickle, but this is another great way to use green tomatoes. Once pickled in a seasoned hot vinegar bath, they can be chopped up and added to sauces, made into a chutney, snacked on, or served as aside to a charcuterie board or sandwich. This recipe is just for one jar, so you can try out the recipe and enjoy the pickles, which can be stored in your fridge for 3-4 weeks.