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Last tomatoes of the season

Even if they’re not ripe yet, there’s a lot you can do with green tomatoes

When fall rolls around and the days of fresh, red tomatoes on the vine are nearing an end, pick the green ones before their frosty demise. Look at the bottom of the fruit. If it’s starting to show a color change, or you see a white star pattern where the blossom end is, go ahead and pick them and let them ripen indoors in a cool, dry location.  

Another idea – just eat ‘em green. Lots of people do. Then you don’t have to wait to enjoy them. Karen Blakeslee is an Extension food scientist at Kansas State University. She says the green tomato culinary possibilities are endless.

"You can eat them as they are, you can fry slices of them like you would fry eggplant – fried green tomatoes. Add them to salads, add them to salsas, things like that," says Blakeslee. "So, there are many ways that green tomatoes could be used."

Don’t expect the same full tomato flavor when they’re not ripe. They’ll be tangy and tart rather than sweet and juicy.

Blakeslee says it’s perfectly fine to eat green tomatoes, there are no food safety issues. However, the one exception is if the tomatoes have already gone through a frost or freeze. In this case, do not use them for canning.

"Because, the acid level has changed too much, and even though when we can tomatoes we add acid to them, it still may not be enough and they could potentially be unsafe," she says. "You can still eat them fresh, but I really don’t recommend that you use them in either canned tomatoes or making salsa, or any kind of tomato product."

Not a fan of green tomatoes? Give them to the chickens, or toss them in the compost pile to help next year’s bumper crop.

Ten things to do with green tomatoes

Click here for fried green tomato recipes

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