Everything has a season. And the season for tomatoes is, sadly, over.
As the summer draws to an end I take a certain comfort in the familiarity of the rain and the fog. They return as surely, as consistently, as rythmically as the birds migrate as the bears hybernate as the sun rises and sets. Our family settles into the food and routine of fall, substituting fresh salsas and salads with soups and stews, splashing in puddles instead of sprinklers, dawning the first tuques and tucking away sun hats. Bare feet are clothed. Apples finish their glorious display and fields of green turn to the most magnificent orange as the pumpkins ripen. There is plenty to look forward to, but as the nights erode into more and more of my daylight hours, there is also a sense of loss. I will miss puttering in the garden with a glass of wine once the days work is done and the little ones are tucked in bed.
There is also a growing list of fall tasks that demand attention during those increasingly precious daylight hours. At the top of my list are the tomatoes. So this weekend, I am hanging the last of the green Roma and Big Ben tomatoes to ripen on the vine. There are also plenty of ways to enjoy the fruit that just didn’t quite get there, and I’m experimenting with green tomato salsa by using unripened the cherry tomatoes (yellow and red) to make a salsa.
To preserve tomatoes for use later in the year we simultaneously freeze the ripe tomatoes, which are available in abundance squared at present, and hang or box unripe (green) tomatoes in a dark place to allow the fruit to ripen. To encourage your green tomatoes to ripen (and not rot) you have two choices.
1) store them in a cardboard box in a cool (but not cold) place. layer the fruit no higher than two rows high to avoid squishing.
2) hang the fruit on the vine upside down. trim most of the leaves off the vine and hang the vine somewhere cool (but not cold) and dark.
Either way, avoid direct sunlight and check the fruit regularly. In the picture above, the fruit is hanging on our gazebo – I transfered it to the garage, but since it’s not pretty, I’m not sharing pics!
Green tomato salsa can be made fresh and is a delicious treat to serve with nachos at bbqs, potlucks or other gatherings or as a garnish for a variety of meats or meat substitutes. Experiment with the recipe below to add your favorite flavours (cilantro, bell peppers, you name it) and to work with what is available locally in your area:
6 green tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 jalapeño, large, seeded and finely chopped (or substitute chilies if you are growing them)
1 garlic clove , minced
4 green onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon kosher or Maldon salt
1/4 cup white onion, finely chopped
For A Chunky Blended Salsa
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until coarse chopped and blended.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Allow the salsa to sit at least 1 -2 hours to allow the flavors to blend
If you’ve got plenty of green tomatoes (and you likely do – tomato plants continue to produce new fruit even when it’s much to late in the season for the fruit to have any chance of ripening), you can also can this garnish to use all year. I’m new to canning, but plan to try the canning recipe at the following: http://recipes.suite101.com/article.cfm/recipe_for_canned_green_tomato_salsa, by Stephen Allan Christensen.
Then of course, there are fried green tomatoes. I’ve never been a fan – but if you’ve got the recipe that will convert me – please, do share!