Yes, we have no (red) tomatoes!

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.

Fried green tomatoes

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.

Fried green tomatoes

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..?

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  1. They wouldn’t ripen when placed near a sunny window? Or…were there not many sunny days?

    Faced with a bumper crop of tomatoes one year and wondering what to do, I was told by a farmer’s wife to bring the green tomatoes in just before the first frost and place them in between layers of newspaper in the basement. This assumes that one has a real, old-fashioned basement. She said this would extend the tomato “season” by a few months – and she was right! They only very slowly ripened in the paper.

    And that is my Betty Crocker tip du jour.

    The Ranger responds: nope, they wouldn’t ripen on the bush at all. Now there’s a danger of frost so since writing the original post I’ve brought the little green things inside (at least, the ones we didn’t eat) and put them on a windowsill exactly as you suggest. As of today three of them are very reluctantly showing the faintest orange hue. Otherwise – green all round. In truth, I should point out that I live in a ground-floor flat, so we don’t see much sun. Miss Cat, who lives on the top floor, has some plants grown from the same seeds, and she has plenty of red tomatoes.

  2. I love fried green tomatoes, they remind me of fried zucchini. I like them breaded and fried. It’s a good way to use the last of the crop in the fall in my part of the U.S. instead of letting them go to waste.

    Do you mean to say that none of your tomatoes turned red during the whole growing season? That would signal the end of the world in Delaware. Is it that it doesn’t get hot enough?

    The Ranger responds: yes, not sunny enough I reckon. And we’ve had a pitiful summer over here – possibly Delaware got our ration of sun because we certainly didn’t see any.

  3. Make some green tomatoe chutney. I am still eating last years. Luckily this year I got a green house, so still eating nice red tomatoes!

  4. Yummy! They look great! Not pomodori – pomoverdi!Try them by all means with shallots or onions – garlic does get a bitter edge if you catch it even slightly when frying it. I didn’t know about the caffeine-like qualities. What on earth is in green tomatoes that stops you sleeping? Perhaps one of our readers can advise?