Green tomatoes – what to do with them?

What to do with tomatoes that do not ripen at the end of the season due to insufficient heat?

Cécile, a loyal reader of the blog, doesn’t know what to do with her green tomatoes:

“Thank you for your posts which are always very interesting.
I see contact for a completely different topic, perhaps interesting for your readers. I have just removed the last vegetables from the garden that are no longer ripening (more than 4 kg harvested) Do you have effective methods for ripening them?
Thanks for your help ! »

According to the photo accompanying his email (pictured on the front page of this article), his request related more specifically to green tomatoes (there are also peppers, which can undergo the same treatment, or simply eat green).

Come on, we answer Cécile (and maybe even you asking the same question)…

Let’s start by remembering that green tomatoes contain high amounts of solanine and are therefore poisonous.

They shouldn’t be eaten as they are (but hey… honestly it’s not a big deal anyway), even though you would have to eat large amounts of them to become really problematic (with symptoms like fever, sweating, vomiting, diarrhoea, headache and bronchospasm – source: Swiss Medical Review), without being fatal (“toxic” does not mean “deadly”…)

Anyway, different techniques, very simple, let the tomatoes ripen…

Ripen your green tomatoes

Choose tomatoes that are free of diseases and injuries (it is no use ripen already damaged green tomatoes… they will rot before they ripen).

During the harvest and after the storage phase, it is important to handle green tomatoes with care.

Shocks could indeed promote the development of rot…

I also recommend removing the stem (stem that attaches the tomato to the plant).

Update of 10/19/2020, following Bertrand’s comment:

In order for your green tomatoes to ripen “artificially”, it is important that the tomatoes have already started the ripening process (the green color will become brighter, or darker, depending on the variety, or even better there is an onset of coloring).

If this is not the case, the tomatoes will already have a lot of trouble ripening, but especially due to the ripening, the solanine can turn into sugar.

Just keep your green tomatoes indoors

Green tomatoes - what to do with them?
Ripening tomatoes at Cécile’s

Simply place your green tomatoes behind a sufficiently lit window (they benefit from the heat from the glazing) or simply in a sufficiently warm room (18-20°C).

Turn them over every now and then…

They will eventually discolor (and thus ripen).

Place apples or bananas near green tomatoes

Ethylene is a plant hormone that promotes ripening.

The tomato is sensitive to it.

To speed up the ripening of your tomatoes, you can also place them next to fruits rich in ethylene, especially bananas or apples.

This too must be done in a dry and sufficiently warm place.

Wrap green tomatoes in newspaper or paper bags

Another method is to wrap the green tomatoes in newspaper (or market paper bags).

Keep them in a dry and sufficiently warm place.

Green tomatoes begin to color in 2-3 days.

Hang your tomato plants indoors

Several comments testify to another interesting technique (if we have space) that I’ll add here.

Pull your tomato plants up and hang them upside down, in your house or possibly in the attic (but I’m not sure if there will be enough heat…).

Chantal surrounds the plants with newspaper… Sophie, no…

This way the flavor could develop better compared to other techniques… it is likely (the juice sinks down into the fruits)

Whichever method you choose, be careful… and remove anything that softens or rots!

So, of course, these “artificially” ripened tomatoes will never taste as good as truss ripened tomatoes.

Yet they are “fresh” reasonably edible and very suitable for soups or sauces.

And if you don’t want to ripen them, you can also make jam with your green tomatoes…

Make a delicious green tomato jam

To begin with, let’s specify that cooking breaks down solanine.

Even if this solanine would only be completely destroyed at 285°C, there is no risk in consuming green tomato jam.

On the internet, in addition to the jam that I am going to present you here, you will find many recipes based on green tomatoes: chutney, “green ketchup” sauce, pies, donuts, cakes… the possibilities are endless!

Come on, my little recipe for green tomato jam (slightly spicy… but delicious):

Ingredients for green tomato jam

  • 1 kg green tomatoes from your garden (organic so… hopefully!)
  • 500 to 750 g cane sugar* organic (to your taste, but knowing that the jam does not keep well with little sugar)
  • 1 organic lemon
  • 1 vanilla pod

*#boycott-sugar-beets … they want to be able to keep killing the bees … let’s kill their business!

Preparation of green tomato jam

  • Wash the tomatoes thoroughly
  • wipe them up
  • Cut them into thin slices
  • Let the green tomatoes macerate in the sugar for 24 hours
  • Squeeze the juice and grate the lemon zest (or cut the lemon into thin slices)
  • Add the vanilla pod cut in 2
  • Cook over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring frequently
  • Pot

Do you know of other techniques for ripening your green tomatoes? Please share them in the comments below…

And if, like Cécile, you have any suggestions for topics you’d like me to develop on the blog, don’t hesitate to let me know!