Flirting With Fall, But Still Holding Tight to Tomatoes { aka. how to ripen green tomatoes}

With any luck, we'll be eating tomatoes until Thanksgiving. It happens just about every year. We get our plants in late, and survive August on the generosity of our neighboring green-thumbs and the hand-picked treasures of our local farmers. But come September, October and even those first weeks of November, we're in business.

Depending on what climate you live in, September can be peak tomato season. And it's also just cool enough to turn back on your oven or stove. And you know what that means. Yep, BLTS.

It's also the time of the year when the garden gets kind of murky. Plants start to shrivel and suffer from lack of sun,  even with their plump green 'maters still attached. I love nothing more than a sun-ripened tomato that stays on its vine until you pluck it still warm into your hot little hand. But this year's been rough on the garden. Ever since Irene, it's been all about green tomatoes or no tomatoes at all. I let my pale orange-yellow ones ripen to a rosy blush on my windowsill, but if you've got a bunch of greenies, here's a little trick I learned from our neighbor, who at this very moment has 122 of his home-grown  tomatoes ripening on his kitchen table.

1. If your vine is going or the weather threatens of frost, pick tomatoes from them when they are pale green and yellowing, and set aside any rock hard green ones for cooking.  
2. Wrap each tomato in tissue or newspaper and lay them stem side down, where they are their toughest. Keep them in a cool, dark place until they begin to blush. Unwrap and let them finish ripening on the kitchen counter until deep red. 
You won't get quite the same texture as those ripened on the vine in the sun, but they'll beat a grocer's tomato on taste every time. Long live the late-season BLT.

1 comment:

Maris said...

Yes to late-season BLTs! Love heirloom tomatoes.

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New York City, United States
Sarah Copeland is a food and lifestyle expert, and the author of Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite, and The Newlywed Cookbook. She is the Food Director at Real Simple magazine, and has appeared in numerous national publications including Saveur, Health, Fitness, Shape, Martha Stewart Living and Food & Wine magazines. As a passionate gardener, Sarah's Edible Living philosophy aims to inspire good living through growing, cooking and enjoying delicious, irresistible whole foods. She thrives on homegrown veggies, stinky cheese and chocolate cake. Sarah lives in New York with her husband and their young daughter.