That mild October weather together with the warmth in my hoop house, bless its little plastic-covered heart, meant I had more red, ripe tomatoes than green ones this year. That would be what you call a mixed blessing because green tomatoes can be handy. I do like to make green tomato and apple chutney, and, occasionally, green tomato relish or green tomato mincemeat.
We have had enough to make several meals of fried green tomatoes, and I have been experimenting with them to get the right amount of crunch and flavor.
I also had a hankering for half-sour pickled green tomatoes, and put up a large jar full the other day. It is too soon to know how well they will turn out, though with lots of dill and garlic in the mix, they smell very promising. If I were very brave, I would try the fermented version where you salt them, and let them bubble around for a while like sauerkraut. For now, I’m too much of a coward for that, though I am reading about the process and will eventually drum up enough moxie to give it a try. I suppose some of you do this sort of thing all the time. If you have advice for a beginner, feel free to share.
For some reason which I don’t exactly fathom, fried green tomatoes seem to be a Southern thing. Considering our climate, surely Maine must abound in green tomatoes. I didn’t turn to a recipe, I just tinkered around with the general idea of them. And I suppose my friend LeonNa Gilbert who reads this column online down south in Arkansas, will just chuckle at my fumbling with this project, but I did come up with a pretty successful way of making them.
I like to use tomatoes that have a hint of yellow, or at least a very pale green, on the outside, and when you slice them, you can see by the pink cast to the interior that the tomato intended to ripen up but just didn’t get around to it in time. I also use stone ground cornmeal because I can’t stand the gritty quality of regular cornmeal meal. You can suit yourself on that. As always, suit yourself, also, on the seasonings. I like smoked paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Garlic, oregano, plain paprika, celery salt, chili powder, you name it–all would be good. They would be very tasty friend in bacon fat if you do that sort of thing. One egg will serve three or four tomatoes.
As a bonus, here is what I did with the pickles. The recipe called for one cup of white vinegar, one and a quarter cups of water, three tablespoons of pickling salt for every pound of green tomatoes, which you wash and cut in half. Add six cloves of garlic, a few black peppercorns, and three tablespoons full of dill seed to a clean sterilized jar. Put in the tomatoes. Bring the vinegar, water, and salt to a boil, and pour over the tomatoes. Refrigerate for two days at least before sampling. If you give this a try, let me know how it goes for you, and I will do the same, probably next week.
Fried Green Tomatoes
1 green tomato per person
Flour with salt, pepper, and seasonings of your choice, whisked in
1 egg, beaten
Slice the tomatoes about a half inch thick. Put the flour and seasonings in one shallow dish or pan, the beaten egg in another, and the cornmeal in a third. Preheat the fry pan and oil it generously. Dip the slices of tomato first in the flour, both sides, then in the egg both sides, then the cornmeal both sides. Drop on the fry pan over a medium high heat. Cook, turning as needed, until the exterior is crisp and golden, and the interior is fork tender. Keep hot until you are ready to serve.
Makes as many servings as there are tomatoes.