Harvesting Green Tomatoes Before Frost
It just happens sometimes. We end up with a bunch of Green Tomatoes in the field and the first hard frost is on its way. In the Southern Garden we have two seasons of tomato growing. The spring garden always promises a bountiful summer harvest of vine ripened Heirloom Tomatoes. Our second crop gets seeds sown in mid June for a Fall season of tomatoes. It's always a matter of weather for harvesting vine ripened tomatoes during this time. Last season we had an early frost that's not so uncommon. As the night temperatures begin to drop we can always cover our plants to protect them, but when that first hard frost is coming, it's time to get out there and harvest, ready or not.
It's not all bad news harvesting your tomatoes while they are still green. Many of them were starting to blush up a tad with some color and were very close to ripening. Those can be ripened indoors very easily by just setting them near a sunny window. When it's a huge harvest it's time to get creative and busy in the kitchen. Here are some delicious and easy things I've found to make with green tomatoes.
Green Tomato Salsa I always make this even when I don't have to harvest green tomatoes. I love it on just about everything, especially for breakfast on some homemade breakfast tacos. Bacon or sausage, cheese and scrambled eggs wrapped up in a warm tortilla. You can even add a bit of fried up potatoes or refried beans. It's also wonderful making green salsa enchiladas. The Salsa is really easy to make and lasts a long while in the refrigerator. It's just a matter of throwing some chopped green tomatoes, onions, peppers, cilantro and a pinch of salt in the food processor with a little bit of vinegar and a pinch of lemon juice.
Freezing Green Tomatoes is real easy. All you have to do is wash them, chop them and put them in ziploc bags. Smooth the air of of the bag, seal it and put them in the freezer. These are great to pull down for later use for making a whole host of things for cooking and baking. I usually put up at least 3 or 4 quarts in the freezer every year. The same process can be done with ripe tomatoes as well. You just want to make sure you cut out any bad spots and don't use fruit that is over ripened.
Green Tomato BreadNow this is our favorite. If you've never baked bread with green tomatoes then you need to know that it tastes just like Zucchini Bread. I think that is why so many folks love to eat fried green tomatoes because of the flavor being so similar. When you put it together with Pecans or Walnuts, a pinch of cinnamon and some other spices you will be hooked. I make mine in regular size bread pans, but on occasion I've been know to make it in mini loaves for gifts. The loaves can go in ziplock bags for the freezer and pulled down for later.
Jams and Marmalade are another way to use up an abundance of green tomatoes. Combine them with some orange and lemon citrus peeled nice and thin and you have a sweet southern treat to spread on some warm bagels or toast. It goes very well with cheese and crackers as well. I've been known to pull a jar down to cook it up for an oriental sweet and sour dipping sauce. It goes wonderful with sweet and sour chicken or pork. Your welcome to visit my kitchen to find a recipe for making Southern Citrus Marmalade.
Today we are making Heirloom Green Tomato Bread. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
- 1 loaf sliced french bread, preferably traditional sourdough
- 6 oz tomato paste
- 12 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Your favorite pizza toppings, prepared
- Your favorite Italian seasonings
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet or sheet pan or line the pan with parchment paper.
- Lay the french bread slices on the pan and spread tomato paste on each slice. Sprinkle a little of your Italian seasoning on each slice. If you don't have any Italian seasoning on hand, you can also use a bit of sea salt and black pepper.
- Top each of the slices with your favorite prepared pizza toppings. I used chopped ham this time. Finish off the slices with a mound of mozzarella cheese on each one.
- Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the mini pizzas are heated through.