What are Green Tomatoes?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Green tomatoes can refer to tomatoes that have failed to adequately ripen, or there are several types of tomatoes that are a pretty green color when ripe. This second group includes tomatoes like the green zebra, green pineapple, green grape, green giant, and the lime green salad tomato. It’s important to understand the difference between this group and unripe tomatoes, since they will have different uses in recipes.

Tomatoes that have failed to adequately ripen may be green in color.
Tomatoes that have failed to adequately ripen may be green in color.

Green tomatoes like the green zebra add incredible color and interest to foods. The green zebra often has yellow stripes and may be about the size of roma tomato. When these tomatoes are ripe, you can use them to create color variation in dishes like caprese salad, serve them on sandwiches or add them to pretty green salads. They’re beautiful in salads composed solely of tomatoes; you can you use red, orange, green, yellow and purple tomatoes for color contrast.

Green zebra tomatoes often have yellow stripes and may be used in salads.
Green zebra tomatoes often have yellow stripes and may be used in salads.

When people mean unripe tomatoes when they refer to green tomatoes, they may be frustrated that their tomatoes haven’t ripened in time. Cooks with lots of recipes on hand will find these green tomatoes no obstacle. Of course, fried green tomatoes comes immediately to mind, a delicacy from the American South that is praised for crispiness and piquant taste.

Red tomatoes are green before ripening.
Red tomatoes are green before ripening.

You can also pickle green tomatoes and they’ll provide a tart addition to many recipes. Alternately, one recipe enjoyed by many is green tomato mincemeat. Unlike traditional mincemeat, the green tomato variant usually doesn’t contain suet. For vegetarians or those looking to reduce fat, eliminating suet, but still having mincemeat bursting with flavor is a very desirable thing, especially when making holiday pies and tarts.

In large farms, lots of tomatoes are picked when they are still green and are stored with ethylene to increase ripening. These may not taste quite as good as tomatoes that are vine-ripened, and many people will pay a higher amount to get vine-ripened tomatoes which are often sweeter. T

If you want ripe tomatoes instead of unripened green tomatoes, you can employ some methods at home to ripen them indoors. Store the tomatoes away from light; you can layer them in boxes if you have a lot of them. As they ripen, tomatoes do produce their own ethylene, which will enhance ripening process. If you have a few tomatoes you’d like to ripen, you can place them in a plastic bag because the bag will help keep ethylene circulating around them. If you really want to speed things up, place an already ripe tomato in the bag.

Tomatoes may be added to salads.
Tomatoes may be added to salads.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

anon176444

Where can I find green tomatoes?

Babalaas

@ Glasshouse- Yum Yum. That sounds like a delicious recipe for fried green tomatoes. I would like to try the same recipe with a jar of long sliced bread and butter pickles.

Glasshouse

@ Pelestears- Eating your green tomatoes fried is really easy. 1) Slice your tomatoes thick and rub them with kosher salt. Let the salted tomato slices sit on a cookie rack for about 20 minutes to draw out the moisture, then pat dry. 2) Mix together equal amounts of yellow cornmeal and flour. Season with cayenne, salt, pepper, and whatever other seasonings you like. 3) Dip the tomato slices in flour, an egg bath, and then coat with the breading. Let these sit for another 10 or 15 minutes so that the crust firms up. 4) Cook the tomatoes in a cast iron skillet for about three to five minutes on each side on medium heat. 5) Melt a half stick of butter and sweat chopped garlic in the butter. Add a half cup of hot sauce and simmer. Serve the tomatoes with the sauce.

PelesTears

can someone give me a good recipe for fried green tomatoes?

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