A hard freeze is forecast, so you pick your remaining tomato crop. Now you need to know what to do with green tomatoes. Because you’ve got plenty of them.
First, congratulations. By thinking ahead and collecting your tomatoes before Mother Nature ran her course, you’ve extended your harvest.
And further, think of those folks who told you there are plenty of ways you can use green tomatoes. You listened. And guess what? They’re right.
Your first order of business is to sort through your harvest. Separate the tomatoes that are already turning pink. These are fruits that you can encourage along in the process. You can …
Yes, you can store green tomatoes for months – if they are very green to begin with. You can use two different methods.
Store tomatoes on the vine
When you harvest, dig up plants that hold fruit (including the roots) or cut off a branch with fruit. Then leave the tomatoes on the vine. Wrap a piece of string or twine around the base of the stem, just near the roots or the end of the branch. Hang the plant or branch upside down in a cool place, like a basement or garage. Check the fruit every few days.
Store tomatoes individually
If you have a large number of loose green tomatoes – those which were harvested at a good size, with a bit of white color – you can ripen them individually by wrapping them loosely in newspaper.
Place them in a box, preferably in one layer but no more than two layers deep. Or you can set them on a garden rack (sometimes called an orchard rack, garden rack, or ripening rack). Store wrapped tomatoes in a cool, dark, dry spot (like a basement or garage). Check the tomatoes every 5-7 days. You can slip a banana in the box to help fruit ripen faster.
Store green tomatoes between 55-70° F while you’re waiting to ripen them. Tomatoes ripen in 2-4 weeks, depending how far along they were to begin with. At 55° F, green tomatoes will ripen in about 28 days. At 70° F, green tomatoes will ripen in about 14 days.
Can you process green tomatoes in a canner?
Yes! Make green tomato relish, aka Chow Chow. Use it to slather onto hamburgers and hotdogs … to flavor cold salads … or as a seasoning for pinto beans.
Can you freeze green tomatoes?
Green tomatoes are firmer than fully ripened ones, which means they are excellent candidates for freezing. You can prepare them as you would for freezing ripened tomatoes: wash, remove stems, and plunge into boiling water followed by an ice bath to remove skins. Pat them dry. Then place tomatoes on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Freeze tomatoes for a couple of hours. Then pack them in resealable freezer bags. Tomatoes will keep in the freezer for up to a year.
Can you dry green tomatoes?
Yep! Green tomatoes have a tangier taste than ripened ones. Plus, they’re packed with plenty of nutrients. They’re useful in salads, casseroles, and dishes in which you want a bit of zest. As with fully ripened fruit, you can choose from four different methods for drying tomatoes: sun dried, oven-dried, dehydrated, or microwave-dried.
Since green fruit hasn’t had its fully-allotted time on the vine, its sugars have not fully developed. The taste is a bit tart when compared to fruit that has matured on the vine.
Yet the firmness allows you to slice tomatoes easily. And the tart flavor adds zest. Which makes those un-ripened fruits perfect for making fried green tomatoes.
You’ve been brave and have accepted the cold, hard fact that growing season is drawing to a close. And you’ve gone further by saving as much of your crop as you can. Now you’ve got options for what to do with green tomatoes that you’ve harvested. Go ahead and enjoy the last fruits of this season’s labor.
More about Harvesting Tomatoes
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