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Green tomatoes add a bright taste to fall

Green tomatoes are popping up in local farmer markets and at BriarPatch Co-op. The unripened tomatos can be used as is in recipes, or stored in a dark place to ripen on their own.
Submitted photo |

“It’s a perfectly edible thing,” farmer Alan Haight of Riverhill Farm explained about a green tomato. “It’s a fully mature tomato that hasn’t yet turned red or orange.”

Alan has been bringing lots of green tomatoes to the Nevada City Farmers Market and to BriarPatch Co-op.

Why pick them green? Alan explained that it’s time to plant cover crops that will hold the soil through winter rains. So even though the tomatoes are still green — and still ripening in this warm fall — it’s time to pick them.



Here are his instructions for ripening tomatoes off the vine:

Place tomatoes and one banana in a plastic bag or cardboard box. Leave at room temperature in a dark place, checking frequently for ripening.




Once ripe, eat or use promptly. Tomatoes can also be left on a plate on the kitchen counter in an out-of-the-way corner out of direct sunlight.

At this time of year, the tart, bright taste of a green tomato is a nice change from the heavier, sweeter tastes of many of the other fall vegetables, like squash.

To preserve that fresh taste through the winter, Riverhill Farm offers the recipes below for chutney and green taco sauce, along with a recipe to help you enjoy them right now.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Serves 4 as a side dish.

3 medium, firm green tomatoes

Salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup milk or buttermilk (Buttermilk adds flavor and tang, but is not necessary.)

1 egg

1/3 cup cornmeal (If you can find it, use fine white cornmeal, which is the primary cornmeal used in the South.)

1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Cut unpeeled tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices. Sprinkle slices with salt. Let tomato slices stand for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place in separate shallow bowls: the flour; buttermilk and egg; and bread crumbs and cornmeal.

Heat the oil in a skillet on medium heat. Beat the egg and the buttermilk together. Dip tomato slices in the flour-seasoning mix, then the buttermilk-egg mixture, then the cornmeal-bread crumb mix.

In the skillet, fry half of the coated tomato slices at a time, for 3-5 minutes on each side or until brown. Set the cooked tomatoes on paper towels to drain. These are fantastic with a little hot sauce.

Green Tomato-Apple Chutney

Makes four jars (about 1 quart)

1 3/4 pound green tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks

2 firm apples, cored and cut into chunks (peeled or unpeeled)

1 cup shallots, peeled and sliced

1 to 2 dried chiles, split and seeded, or 1 fresh chile, seeded and finely chopped

1/3 cup chopped candied ginger

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 cup raisins

1 cup light or dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon yellow or black mustard seeds

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

Zest of one orange

Mix together all the ingredients in a large, non-reactive* pot.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low boil and cook, stirring frequently, for 45 minutes, until the mixture is thick and jam-like. (Make sure to stir continuously during the last few minutes of cooking, just to make sure nothing burns as the chutney turns jam-like.)

Once finished, ladle the chutney into clean jars.

Storage: Chutney will keep in the refrigerator for about one month.

Or, can it using the hot water bath method.

*Made of a material, such as stainless steel or glazed enamel, that won’t react with something acidic.

Mild Green Taco Sauce

Makes 3 pints

6 cups finely chopped green tomatoes, with juice

2 medium onions, chopped

2-4 Serrano peppers, depending on heat desired

1 1/2 cups cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon each black and cayenne peppers

1 1/2 teaspoons pickling salt or regular salt

In a large, heavy saucepan, combine tomatoes, onions, vinegar, peppers, and salt, mixing thoroughly.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 2 hours. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Pour mixture, 2 to 3 cups at a time, into a blender container or food processor and process until smooth.

Taste and correct seasonings, if necessary.

Pour into suitable containers, seal, label and freeze.

Stephanie Mandel is the marketing manager at BriarPatch Co-op in Grass Valley.


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