GARDENING: Green Tomatoes, bring them in!

By Sara Moran, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Horticulture Agent for Midland and Ector Counties

I planted a couple of tomato plants during this growing season. They were not the biggest producer, which is understandable. Tomato plants can be sensitive to extremely high temperatures. When temperatures consistently rise above 90°F, tomato plants may experience poor fruit production.

Now that we are getting ready to give our garden a break or preparing it for winter crops, you probably have found a few green tomatoes here and there on your plant. I found quite a few and decided to give them a chance. So, I brought them in and will try to ripen them indoors. It is recommended to place them in a warm location with temperatures between 65-75°F, so I am keeping them on my kitchen counter.

You can use ethylene-producing fruits like apples or bananas to speed up the ripening process. Place a ripe apple or banana in a paper bag with the green tomatoes. The ethylene gas produced by the fruit will help trigger ripening. Check the tomatoes regularly, and once they show signs of ripening, such as changing color or softening slightly, remove them from the bag and store them in a cool, dark place to finish ripening. Be patient; it will take some time. Remember, the tomatoes might not have the same flavor and texture as those naturally ripe on the tomato plant outdoors. Sunlight and nature have their magic!

On the other hand, green tomatoes are edible! And you can use them in different dishes. You can even make green tomato bread; it is supposed to be savory and sweet. I am giving it a try this Fall. Below are some suggestions. You can find a variety of recipes online.

1. Fried Green Tomatoes. A popular Southern dish where green tomato slices are coated in cornmeal or breadcrumbs and fried until crispy and golden brown.

2. Green Tomato Salsa. It has a tangy flavor. Served with tortilla chips or used as a condiment.

3. Pickled Green Tomatoes: Green tomatoes can be pickled, preserving their crispness and adding a sour, tangy flavor.

4. Green Tomato Chutney: Chutneys made from green tomatoes are a delicious condiment used in sandwiches or as a side for various dishes.

5. Green Tomato Relish is often served with hot dogs and burgers.

The choice of how to use them is yours! The positive side is that you can salvage some of your green tomatoes.

If you have questions or want more information, contact your Texas A&M County Extension Office in Midland (432-686-4700) and Ector (432-498-4071) counties. You can also send an email to [email protected].