’tis the season

Green tomato season is here.   Well, technically we’ve been able to use them all summer.  My sister and I made one of our grandfather’s favorite green tomato recipes for him when he was in the hospital a few weeks back — and he couldn’t even eat it, although he valiantly managed four mouthfuls of his heirloom beans, cooked down the old-fashioned way.  (If you’re curious, the recipe is one crookneck squash and one firm green tomato cut into small chunks, swirled around in whipped egg mixed with a little water, then drain off the excess liquid and douse the mixture with cornmeal, a touch of flour, paprika, black pepper and salt, and then – duh! – fry it up.)

But after this experiment in eating seasonally I do understand a little better why you’d want to start using up your remaining green tomatoes now.

For one thing, you’ve eaten a lot of ripe tomatoes by this late in the season.  Looking back on that first glory just after the fourth of July, it’s hard to imagine you might be getting a little tired of them already.  But when you have 20 plants, all producing like mad… let’s just say I’m wishing for some canning equipment.  Meanwhile, I do what I can, turning my bounty into gifts for neighbors and family, making sundried tomatoes (in the oven), and eating as much Caprese salad, bruschetta, and salsa as I can.

The main reason to eat green tomatoes now, however, is to remove the excess tomatoes from the vines.  If a plant is still holding on to 15 tomatoes, it’s not going to be able to mature them all before the first frost.  You can remove half of them, or more if you live farther north, and help the remainder to get fat and juicy and red while the sun is still warm enough.  Or at least far enough along to be ripened in a kitchen window.

(And yes, I know the new wisdom is that you’re not supposed to set tomatoes in a sunny window.  I can’t seem to break myself of the habit.  Tomatoes belong on the kitchen windowsill.  It’s a law of nature, like gravity.  Our windowsill is the narrowest one I’ve had in years, and I still carefully balance the ripening tomatoes there because I must.  Such is the power of positive conditioning.  My mother and grandmother always had tomatoes on their kitchen windowsills during the summer months, and the sight of them felt like a benediction.)

But I’m getting off topic. This is all I really wanted to say:

Green tomatoes.  Seize the moment.

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2 Responses to “’tis the season”

  1. thanks for the tip! i have some green tomatoes on my vine that are slow to ripen. (i don’t have 20 plants like you but i cannot resist buying them at the market even when i know i have some on my plant ready to pick :). i may have to try some green ..

  2. So glad I could help 🙂 F. says they are really great pickled, by the way, so we are going to try that in addition to the traditional fried favorites I know and love. Someone also said you could make a chutney from them (?) but I have yet to taste or see such a thing.

    p.s. it’s probably a good thing you don’t have 20 plants! I went way overboard this year. Must control myself next year. I know exactly what you mean about not being able to resist!

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