Going green: It works with tomatoes, too

There’s been talk about it in the grocery stores. It’s an issue at large in the community and people want to know what to do about it, Linda Tannehill said.

The issue: What to do with all the green tomatoes?

Tannehill, a University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service Health, Home and Family Development Agent, said there is a surplus of green tomatoes in gardens this year, and as winter approaches gardeners are looking for some way to use this under-ripened crop.

There are three options for the green tomatoes: preserving, further ripening or cooking them under-ripened.

To preserve green tomatoes, Tannehill said growers can freeze them sliced, diced, pureed or whole.

They can also be canned as relish, she said.

To ripen tomatoes further before frost cripples their vines, gardeners can pull them from the plant and store them in 65-70 degree tempreratures, according to “A Harvest of Green Tomatoes,” a document found on UAF’s website. The tomatoes should then be checked daily for proper ripeness or decay. 

“The consistency and quality of the fruit is going to be a little different than a vine ripened tomato, but they will soften enough,” said Lydia Clayton, UAF Cooperative Extension Service agriculture and horticulture agent.

Another method is to pick the entire tomato plant, Clayton said.

“You pull it up roots and all, hang it upside down and then as that root system dries down and the foliage dries down, they move all the sugars that are stored in there into the fruits,” she said.

The tomato plants are best stored in crawl spaces or garages kept at 50-degree tempreratures, according to the UAF document.

For cooking with green or immature tomatoes, Tannehill encourages gardeners to consult the UAF document.

Details on recipes such as fried green tomatoes, green tomato egg bake or stewed green tomatoes can be found by searching online for “A Harvest of Green Tomatoes” or through UAF’s website, www.uaf.edu.

Tannehill is optimistic about cooking with green tomatoes.

“It’ll force people to try something they normally wouldn’t,” she said, “like green tomato relish.”

 

Dan Schwartz can be reached at daniel.schwartz@peninsulaclarion.com.

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