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Even on the Isle of Wight with its temperate climate, this year it has not been possible to bring a blush to the Ranger’s tomato crop. Grown from a seedling provided by The Cat, my tomato plant was fed and watered diligently throughout the murky summer months and, despite its basement gloom, it grew into a handsome plant with many tomatoes. However, they have remained persistently green.
Although some unfortunate allotment holders and windowsill grocers have had their produce succumb to the dreaded tomato blight, I’m pleased to report that the Ranger’s fruits are firm and juicy. Bunched together on the vine in friendly companionship the tomatoes have nevertheless conspired to remain green. In despair of ever eating a ripened tom, I turned to the Wildlife Gardener and asked, “What can I do with green tomatoes?”. This experienced kitchen gardener instantly dismissed any thoughts of forced ripening and, even more curtly, waved off the prospect of preserves with a succinct, “Forget chutney – it’s disgusting”. However, she did proffer a simple recipe for fried green tomatoes. The lovely Cat set about cooking up a late night snack with a bunch of the green tomatoes and it was pretty tasty.
Slice and fry green tomatoes in oil with a clove of chopped garlic and salt and pepper. Chuck in some ground cumin and, just before you serve, a sprinkling of balsamic vinegar. The tomatoes stay agreeably crunchy.
The tomatoes were served with toast soldiers and, with the substitute of Italian seasoning for the unavailable cumin, were declared very nice with a good texture. As there is such a glut of unripe tomatoes at Ranger Towers, it looks like this method of disposing of them will be used again in the very near future – perhaps with the modification of caramelised shallots instead of the garlic, to help bring down the slight bitterness. Both tasters also decided that the anti-sleep effect of the green tomatoes might also mean that this dish is best not eaten last thing at night – or at least not if you want to get any sleep. Think not of them as failed tomatoes but as a new fruit altogether – vertoms, perhaps? Can you think of a better name..?