how to use green tomatoes

Days are growing shorter. Nights are growing cooler. You may be wondering what to do your bumper crop of unripe tomatoes. Once night temperatures drop below 50º F, new fruits are not likely to form. To speed up the ripening of green tomatoes, pinch off any new blossoms. If you still have green tomatoes well into the cool days of fall, there are several options to encourage ripening or
utilize the green tomatoes as they are.


To ripen indoors, lift the entire plant and hang it upside down in a dry, sheltered location, like the garage or basement. The fruits will continue to ripen and will still have some of the benefits of ripening on the vine. Try to take some of the roots with the plant, but you can clean off any soil. For best results do not hang the plant in total darkness or direct sunlight.
Pick mature fruits to ripen them in the house. Mature green tomatoes should be full size, have a hint of color at the blossom end and feel softer than the hard young fruits.

  • Place them on a sunny windowsill or on the counter. Check regularly and remove any fruits that show signs of rotting.
  • Alternately, place green tomatoes in a single layer in a paper bag with a ripe apple or banana. These give off an ethylene gas, which speeds up ripening. Check the bag daily for ripe or rotting fruits. 


A wealth of recipes for green tomatoes are available in cookbooks, blogs, or on the Web.
Some fun options include:
 Pickled green tomatoes
 Fried green tomatoes
 Green tomato pie, season and bake as you would an apple pie!
 Green tomato jelly or jam
 Green tomato bread, use zucchini bread recipe and sub tomatoes for zucchini
 Green tomato salsa
 Green tomato relish 

Renee Erickson, a Seattle-based chef and culinary force behind Boat Street Pickles, suggests making a batch of pickled green tomatoes to preserve a taste of summer. Her recipe calls for beefsteak tomatoes, but any tomato, as long as it’s green, will do. This pickle, she says, is a
succulent condiment for hamburgers, roast chicken, and charcuterie.

Pickled Green Tomatoes

 1 ½ quarts white wine vinegar
 1 ½ cups sugar
 ½ teaspoon sea salt
 4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
 2 pounds green beefsteak tomatoes, sliced into wedges ½” to ¾” thick
 ½ cup fresh tarragon leaves, stems removed
 In a stainless-steel saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar, salt, and garlic.
 Bring to a boil. When the sugar has dissolved, add the tomatoes.
 Simmer over low heat 10 minutes, or until tomatoes are tender but not mushy.
 Strain the tomatoes, reserving liquid in one container, tomatoes in another.
 Add the tarragon to the liquid.
 Refrigerate both until cool, and then combine.
 Spoon into lidded glass containers and refrigerate for up to three months.

To purchase Erickson’s pickled figs, red onions, prunes, or raisins, visit or pick some up at the Boat Street Café.