A plate of green tomatoes
(Image credit: pilipphoto)

As the growing season wanes, there are often those last holdout tomatoes clinging to the vine that aren’t ripe. Many people will try to ripen them in a paper bag or on a windowsill, but why not use green tomatoes in a recipe? Green tomatoes are still a good source of nutrition and their firmer texture lends them to a host of dishes. While fried green tomatoes is the most popularly known application, there are other ways to use up these underripe nightshade fruits.

Many gardeners are confused on ways to use green tomatoes. They can be eaten raw but are quite acidic. That acidity is perfect paired with smokey foods, spiced dishes, or even pickled. The methods of preparation when using green tomatoes include frying, grilling, roasting, and sautéing. Many green tomato uses are in soups and stews, as a side dish, or even in a salsa. Any recipe that uses ripe tomatoes can be translated to green tomatoes, but may need some additional sweetness added to balance out the tart flavor.

How to Use Green Tomatoes

Green tomatoes are excellent fresh in a salsa. Diced or pureed, with onions, garlic, chile, and other classic salsa components, the sauce is fresh and tangy with a hint of spice. Green tomatoes may be prepared sliced or in cubes for grilling, roasting, or pan frying. One of the more classic ways of cooking green tomatoes is by frying. Slice the tomatoes and dip them in flour, salt, and pepper. Shake off excess flour. Mix Greek yogurt and half its amount of buttermilk in a shallow dish. Dip the floured slices in the yogurt mixture and then toss them in panko breadcrumbs. Fry them in oil or spray the slices with oil and bake in a medium high oven for 12 minutes, flipping them halfway. This is a classic southern dish and the slices can be preserved by slicing and freezing them for later use, or dehydrating slices and rehydrating them later. The recipe can easily be tailored to include Italian, or Latin flavor inspirations.

Pickling and Relishes

Another way to enjoy green tomatoes is by pickling them. Slice or dice the fruit and cover in salt for 24 hours. Then rinse the tomatoes and toss them with chopped garlic, chile pepper, and herbs. Place these in a clean, sterile jar and top with vinegar and a bit of olive oil. Refrigerate the pickles and use them within six months. The longer the fruit steeps the more flavor it will accumulate.

Green tomato relish is a family classic in some regions. The dish combines bell peppers, onions, pickling salt, vinegar, sugar, and mustard. The relish can be kept in the refrigerator for several weeks or canned in a hot water bath method. You can add cucumbers, carrots, hot peppers, and classic pickling spices for variety. Serve the relish with meats, on sandwiches, or dress a salad with the tangy mixture.

Other Ways to Use Green Tomatoes

Green tomato pie is a tasty dessert with autumnal spice, raisins, and apples. The ingredients are cooked with sugar, citrus peel, lemon juice, and a bit of vinegar until the consistency of apple pie filling. It freezes well for later use in a pastry shell. Bake until the pastry is golden, and the filling is bubbly.

Easier ways to use up green tomatoes include roasting and grilling. For roasting, half the fruit, and for grilling a fairly thick slice is preferred. Coat the fruit in oil, season with salt and pepper, and add any other spices you want. Roast tomatoes cut side up under the broiler for 10 to 15 minutes. Preheat a grill rack and grill tomato slices for six minutes, flipping halfway. Spicy mayonnaise is a perfect partner for grilled or roasted green tomatoes.

Bonnie L. Grant

Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.