Wednesday, August 5, 2009

June 24, 2009: Green Tomatoes

Friends ask me, “Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?”

Well, it’s growing very well, thank you! The yellow squash and zucchini plants are the size of small rugs, we’re eating basil like spinach, the peppers are peppering like mad, and the tomato plants are taller than I am.

So far there’s only one glitch – the tomatoes aren’t turning red. According to Purdue University, it’s gotten too hot too fast. They report the best temperatures for turning tomatoes red are between 68 and 77 degrees. We don’t even get down there at night these days! Their best advice is to wait it out. Eventually, the tomatoes will turn red and sweet.

In the meantime, there are plenty of good recipes for green tomatoes. We all know about fried green tomatoes. You can dip tomato slices in egg white first, then in corn meal, bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, or flour. A little cooking spray, a hot skillet, and you’ll have a delicious treat. Add diced hot peppers to the coating to spice things up.

Have you ever thought of baking stuffed green tomatoes? Just make your favorite stuffed pepper recipe with tomatoes instead. I like mine stuffed with rice, beans, and cheese. Dice up the scooped-out tomato center and add it to the stuffing. Again, think hot peppers!

If you have a lot of green tomatoes and don’t want to wait, try making green tomato ketchup or salsa. Put six pounds of sliced tomatoes and 3 pounds of sliced onions in a big heavy pot. Add spices to taste, plus two cups of vinegar and one cup of honey. Slow cook the whole thing for about four hours. For ketchup, puree the mixture in a blender, then sieve it to remove lumps. If you prefer salsa, add hot peppers to taste to the cooking pot and keep the lumps. You can preserve the ketchup/salsa, or you can put it in plastic containers and freeze it. Frozen, it keeps for several months.

To paraphrase a famous quote, when life gives you green tomatoes, Enjoy!

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