This past weekend, I took my daughter and her friend to a local farm to pick apples. The apples were plentiful and we enjoyed tasting suncrisp, gala, empire, and jonagolds, and discriminating the distinct differences between tart, sweet, sour and baking varieties. For sure, the trees full of apples, crisp air and sight of pumpkins were cues that the autumn harvest season had arrived.
The apples were as wonderful as predicted, and we enjoyed picking zinnias from the “pick-your-own” garden. Their vivid colors were again reminiscent of the fall season. Soon, however, my daughter saw a sign pointing in the direction of tomato plants and insisted that we needed to pick tomatoes as well. I didn’t really associate fall with tomato picking, but I was open and we walked down to the tomato section. Their colors were amusingly the same as apples, green and red. In fact, it was difficult to tell the fruits apart in the wheelbarrow. They indeed were the same price as apples, so it was a “mix and match” opportunity. After a little research, I soon learned about the process of how tomatoes ripen and why September is an ideal month to enjoy the delicacy of green tomatoes.
When fall brings cooler temperature and less hours of sunlight in the day, tomatoes stay green. The larger the tomato, the longer it stays green; thus, September is a great time to pick and prepare green tomatoes, especially the large beefsteak variety. Although, a green tomato can ripen once off the vine if kept warm, a green tomato has its own merit on the dining table.
Green tomatoes tend to be more firm, less sweet, more crunchy. They are amenable to slicing, battering, frying and sauteeing. After a summer of enjoying red, ripe tomatoes in caprese salads, pasta sauces, and wedged into sandwiches, I thoroughly recommend a trial of their unripened versions. Green tomatoes are low-calorie and nutrient-dense, and boast protein, fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, iron, potassium and B complexes, to name a few.
There are many ways to prepare green tomatoes. I did fry mine in a light layer of canola oil, after dipping them in a batter of corn meal and flour, and they came out delicious. They can be served with a creole sauce, red pepper sauce, or herb remoulade. Click here for the recipe for my fried green tomatoes.