Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Three Ways To Store Green Tomatoes And Enjoy Them All Winter Long

Around mid-October, when night-time temperatures are in the 50's, it's time to rip out remaining tomato vines. After a season of enjoying tomatoes every which way imaginable, this can be a cathartic experience. Still, it's hard to say good-bye to the hard green fruits still clinging to the vine, so full of potential. There isn't enough daylight or warmth for vine-ripened fruit, but that doesn't mean the whole plant is destined for the compost bin. Too often, I end up sacrificing green tomatoes that I could be using all winter long. Here are few options for enjoying late-season tomatoes:

1. Ripen green tomatoes indoors. After picking unblemished fruit, wash and dry them carefully. Line a wide, flat pan or cardboard box with newspaper or paper towels. Place clean, dry tomatoes in the container, leaving space between each one. Keep the container in a cool, dry location where the temperature remains between 50-65 degrees. A cool, dark basement or garage works well. Check tomatoes every few days to ensure there is no rot. Remove any rotting tomatoes immediately. When they begin to turn red, bring the tomatoes to a well-lit, warmer area to finish ripening. Tomatoes will ripen more quickly in warmer temperatures, so decide how quickly you want to use them.You can drag this out from two weeks to several months. Placing a banana
nearby will hasten ripening.

2. Fry green tomatoes and see what all the fuss is about. Slice tomatoes about 1/4 inch thick, dip them in buttermilk and coat with cornmeal. Using enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a pan, fry the tomatoes until they're lightly browned on both sides. Drain on paper towels and enjoy!

3. Put up some refrigerator pickles. Green tomatoes are crunchier than your average vinegar-slogged cucumber. They can handle a range of pickling spices, including mustard, coriander, peppercorn, garlic and allspice. For every 2 pounds of sliced green cherry tomatoes, combine:

1 1/2 c. vinegar
1 1/2 c. water
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. Kosher salt
1 t. whole peppercorns
1 t. allspice
1 t. whole cloves
2 t. mustard seeds
2 cloves crushed garlic

Combine the spice mixture. Using sterile glass or plastic storage containers, alternately layer the tomatoes and spices. Combine the vinegar, sugar and water and bring to a boil until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Cover the tomatoes with the liquid. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours. Enjoy for up to two weeks, if they last that long!


  1. Fascinating! How in the world does setting a banana next to unripe tomatoes make them ripen faster?

    1. Excellent question, Marc. Bananas release ethylene, which helps speed the ripening process. The tomatoes will also ripen on their own, without the banana.