Thursday, September 10, 2015

Need to Ripen Green Tomatoes? Let's Party! by Carol King

Perhaps, dear gardener, you have a plethora of unripe tomatoes in your garden. I do not. I got perhaps 50 tomatoes from my “Sweet 100s” (thinking of changing its name to “Sweet Tens”), exactly two “roma” tomatoes, and four “early girls”. I have one plant that did not set one single tomato. That is it; failure of great magnitude. If you were more successful than I, here are a few tips on dealing with green tomatoes.

To speed-ripen on the vine try these:
• Stop watering. This encourages ripening.
• Root prune the plant. Dig into the soil 6-8” deep and cut around a circle 12” from the stem. Shake the plant but don’t dig it up. This will stress the plant and the fruit will ripen faster.
• Pinch off any flowers, small fruit, new shoots, and suckers. It’s too late for them to become anything. Do this now and all the plants energy will go toward ripening.

When frost is expected, try these:
• Cover the plant completely and anchor so the wind doesn’t blow it off. Use old blankets, thick plastic, or anything similar and make sure it goes all the way to the ground providing the plant with trapped warmth.
• Harvest the tomatoes by pulling the plant from the ground and hanging it upside down in a garage or other shelter. Check often for ripe ones.
• Pick the pink ones and put them on the counter to ripen
• Pick the green tomatoes and store them in a shallow tray lined with newspaper. They need 60-70 degrees and no light. The warmth ripens them not light.    For more information, try these Fact Sheets:

Or to heck with it all! Just maybe, dear gardener, you are sick of the garden and don’t want plants hanging upside down in the garage dropping tomatoes all over your car; or boxes of green tomatoes all over the place or counters covered with tomatoes. I say give it up! Invite your friends and neighbors over and have a “Fried Green Tomato Party”. They are yummy, unhealthy, fried, and a real crowd pleaser. Here’s my recipe which was taught to me by my Texas cousins. You know their good.

Emma Jean and Rita Jane’s Fried Green Tomatoes*

Ingredients: green tomatoes, eggs, milk, flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper, vegetable oil for frying
Wash and dry the tomatoes.
Slice about ¼ inch thick.
Salt each slice on both sides and set aside.
Beat egg(s) with a splash of milk making a batter
Put cup or so of flour in a plate, pepper it a little and mix with a fork
Put cup or so of corn meal in a plate, pepper it a little and mix with a fork. I prefer Bob’s Red Mill medium or coarse ground.
Put ½ inch of good vegetable oil in skillet. An iron skillet is the best. Heat to 350 degrees or a good frying temperature. You may have to discard the oil and add new if you are frying a lot of the tomatoes.
Dip salted tomato slices into flour, then into egg mixture, then into cornmeal.
Plop in the skillet and brown both sides.

*Quantities in this recipe depend on the number of tomato slices you are frying. It’s a very forgiving recipe.

Good with a nice chardonnay or cold beer of choice!

Some interesting facts about fried food:
*Fried green tomatoes did not originate in the South. They were being eaten in Italy as early as the sixteenth century.
*The French embassy declared that the french fries were Belgian in origin. This claim was accepted by Belgium and they claim that they were cooking up french fries in 1680 in Dinant, Belgium.
*The Big Tex Choice Awards at the 2015 Texas State Fair were Cowboy Corn Crunch, Pretzel-Crusted Pollo Queso Lone Star Pork Handle, Lone Star Pork Handle, Deep Fried Alligator’s Egg Nest, Fried Beer-Battered Buffalo,  and Fernie’s Holy Moly Carrot Cake Roly.  They offer the Big Tex Choice Award each year for the best fried food.
*It's customary to eat foods fried in oil to commemorate the miracle of Hanukkah.
*There is no chicken in Chicken-Fried Steak.
*According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, from 1999 until November 14, 2006, there have been 119 incidents involving fires or burns associated with turkey fryers in the United States.
*Scots consume thousands of the deep-fried Mars Bars each week.
*Elvis loved his “peanut butter and nanner” fried sandwiches.
*Many urban legends contain references to people inadvertently finding and eating something unpleasant fried in their food order; usually a rodent or animals we consider to be pets.

Nutrition Facts for the Fried Green Tomato
Serving Size: 1 tomato

Amount per Serving
Calories 312 Calories from Fat 169

% Daily Value *
Total Fat 18.8g 29%
Saturated Fat 10.5g 52%
Cholesterol 112mg 37%
Sodium 731mg 30%
Potassium 276mg 8%
Total Carbohydrate 29.9g 10%
Dietary Fiber 2.1g 8%
Sugars 3.4g
Protein 6.7g 13%
Vitamin A 27%
Vitamin C 40%
Calcium 6%
Iron 25%
Thiamin (B1) 30%
Niacin (B3) 25%
Vitamin B6 8%
Folic Acid (Folate) 36%
Magnesium 7%
Est. Percent of Calories from:
Fat 54.2% Carbs 38.3%
Protein 8.6%