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Have a handful or a bushel of green tomatoes that never ripened? Don’t despair. There are a lot of ways to use unripened tomatoes in cooking and canning. Don’t let your underripe tomatoes go to waste with these ten tips for using green tomatoes.
Note – when we say “green tomato” here in this article we’re talking about regular tomatoes that did not ripen in your garden. This is different from tomatillos, a variety of which are actually green when fully ripened. Also different from varieties like green zebra which are green when ripe.
We’re talking about the tomatoes that should be red when fully grown and ripe, but either fell off the vine or grew too late into the season and needed to be used before a frost. Green tomatoes are still rather firm so they can hold their own in a lot of recipes where regular tomatos would break down, which is a fun bonus to work with.
While you can use a few methods to help green tomatoes ripen even after they come off the plant, you can also just cook amazing things with your green tomatoes!
Fried Green Tomatoes (of course!)
One of the most popular (and yummy) ways to use upripened tomatoes is to the ever classic – fried green tomatoes. These amazing appetizers or side dishes have just a little tart kick beneath the mouthwatering fried surface, and because the tomatoes are unripe they hold their shape well. You just slice them into rounds about 1/4 inch thick, dip them in some batter (eggs and milk), then drop them into hot oil to lightly crisp on both sides. Seeing as this dish is a southern tradition, we recommend this recipe from Melissa’s Southern Style Kitchen.
Green Tomato Jam
Green tomato jam is slightly tart but sweetened with sugar for a delicious combo. This yummy jam can be spread on toast, used as a sandwich condiment, or eaten with burgers and dogs. This recipe for green tomato jam from Food 52 adds a little kick of spice for a mouthwatering final result.
Green Tomato Relish
Green tomato relish is a nice twist on the typical relish recipe. It offers some nice bulk and “spreadability” compared to traditional cucumber relish. This spicy green tomato relish recipe from Life’s Ambrosia gets rave reviews from those who have tried it.
Pickled Green Tomatoes
If you want something a little more savory, why not pickle your unripe tomatoes? Pickled tomatoes are not quite as crisp as pickled cucumbers but they make for a great topping on burgers, dogs, or sandwiches. You can use a quick pickling recipe like this one from A Couple Cooks, or make dill pickled green tomatoes that can be canned.
Green Tomato Salsa
Salsa is always a hit, and it’s easy to make with green tomatoes. While true “salsa verde” is actually made with tomatillos, you can also make a green tomato salsa that hits the spot with its acidity and tang. Your final salsa will be a little bit more tart and acidic than salsa made with ripe tomatoes, but that makes for a nice change-up if you’ve been eating a lot of red salsa. This recipe for green tomato salsa from the NY Times is simple, and makes a great on a chip or as a side to any Mexican meal.
Green Tomato Pie
Believe it or not, green tomato pie has similar flavor to apple pie! With the addition of warming spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and thrown into a delicious crust, unripened tomatoes can be serves as a sweet! Try this simple old family recipe shared on Taste of Home or this slighly more complex one from Spruce Eats.
Green Tomato Chutney
Chutney is a delicious thick sauce that goes quite well with Indian foods – the tang of the tomato is balanced by the sweetness of the brown sugar and the warm flavors of cinnamon and cloves. This is a go-to recipe for our unripe tomatoes and makes for a nice meal any time of the year when canned. This green tomato chutney recipe from Food in Jars is a great classic rendition with just a little bit of spicey kick.
Stewed Green Tomatoes
Another great way to use green tomatoes is to stew them. Stewed green tomatoes (or green tomato stew) can be made in a slow cooker or on your stove top. The results is a thick, heartwarming dinner that is perfect for fall. This recipe for slow cooker green tomato stew is the perfect way to do it.
Green Tomato Bread
Unripe tomatoes can also be used to make a delicious loaf of quick bread (much like banana bread or zucchini bread). The end result will be a moist, dense and slightly sweetened bread that is perfect for breakfast or as a snack – or even for dessert! This recipe for green tomato bread from Spruce Eats is easy and definitely worth trying out.
Roasted Green Tomatoes
Finally, you can roast your unripe tomatoes. This is a great way to bring out the sweetness in green tomatoes. Roasted green tomatoes can be used as a sauce or as a base to add to something else, or simply eaten on their own as a side dish. They are also great in place of salsa as a topping on their own. Try this recipe for roasted green tomatoes with garlic and thyme from The Daily Dish.
So, there you have it – ten different ways to use up your tomatoes that haven’t ripened! No matter how you use them, it’s going to be better than watching them rot on the ground in your garden or in a basket.
Do you have any other ideas for using unripe tomatoes? Share them in the comments below!
For more helpful info on growing and cooking with tomatoes, check out these articles!
- How to Plant a Tomato Seedling
- How (and Why) to Prune Tomatoes
- How to Support Tomatoes (Stakes vs Cages)
- How to Make Tomato Sauce in an Instant Pot
Carrie Williams Howe is an educational leader by day and an aspiring homesteader by night and weekend. She lives on a small homestead in Vermont with her husband, two children, and a rambunctious border collie. She blogs about her family's homestead life at The Happy Hive.