It’s been a pretty great summer to grow tomatoes in Minnesota. Despite the drought, my crop was the best I’ve ever had, yet the cool summer made for a late harvest. Tomatoes abound at farmers markets, and our CSA share was overflowing with them. Fickle, delicious plants. But the whole shebang is vigorously winding down, and gardeners gotta do something with green tomatoes still on the vine. Here are a few ideas:
Pull out the whole plant, root and all, and hang it upside-down from the rafters or pipes in your basement or other cool area. The tomatoes may ripen, and if any rookie cops peek in they’ll think you’re growing hydroponic pot. Laughs for all.
Harvest all remaining tomatoes and place in a shallow box. Cover with several layers of newspapers and store in your basement. Check them every day or two, and pull out any that ripen. To speed ripening, put an apple or banana in the box. Feel superior as you eat home-grown tomatoes at Halloween. Variation: Wrap tomatoes individually in newspaper and store.
Use the green tomatoes just as you would red ones. Peel, core, chop, and can them. Dry them in a dehydrator or in the oven over super-low heat. Make green-tomato pickles, fried green tomatoes, or relish.
Here’s an easy recipe for green tomato relish. Impress guests by pouring some over a brick of cream cheese and serving it with crackers, and revel in the fact you wasted nothing from your tomato crop.
Green Tomato Relish
5 lbs green tomatoes
½ lb onion
4 large green peppers
2 hot peppers
2 tbsp mustard seed
1 tbsp celery seed
4 tsp canning salt
2 c white vinegar
1 ¼ c sugar
Chop vegetables. Mix all ingredients and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 10 minutes. Eat fresh or can by waterbathing for 20-25 minutes. Makes about 8 pints.