How to ripen green tomatoes and green tomato salsa recipe


Ways to ripen those green tomatoes that just won’t go red and a handy recipe for green tomato salsa.

Words: Jane Wrigglesworth

As temperatures begin to drop, your tomato plants will start to slow down too. Ripening becomes sporadic when temperatures remain around 15˚C, and when the mercury drops below 12˚C, tomatoes won’t ripen at all. You may be left with a bumper crop of green tomatoes but pick them anyway and you can ripen them indoors or cook them as they are.

Tomatoes need warmth, not light, to ripen so there’s no need to put them on a sunny windowsill. While the warmth from the sun does encourage fruit to ripen, you may end up with overly dry fruit and this is especially true for fruit that’s almost completely green.

Instead, place your tomatoes in a paper bag and position the bag in a warm spot. The paper bag acts as a miniature greenhouse, offering warmth and trapping ethylene. Like many fruits, tomatoes emit ethylene gas as they ripen, which accelerates the ripening process. Bananas are prolific ethylene producers, so place one in the bag with your tomatoes to speed up the process.

If you have several tomato plants with unripe fruit on them, uproot the whole plant and hang it upside down in a warm but shaded spot, like a shed.

HOW TO COOK WITH ALL KINDS OF GREEN TOMATOES

Green tomatoes are perfect for cooking. Depending on their stage of ripeness, they can be used in various recipes.

Immature green tomatoes: these will be very hard and a deep green, with no hint of yellow. These won’t ripen at all and are best used for marmalade. Green tomato marmalade is delicious – google and you’ll find hundreds of recipes.

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Mature green tomatoes: these are quite firm but the bottom of the fruit has a white or yellow ‘star’. These may ripen under certain conditions – place them in paper bags with bananas, apples and other tomatoes – or they can be stewed and substituted for apples in many recipes, or fried.

Breakers: these have pink bottoms and will ripen at room temperature, or they can be used straight away in uncooked relishes or guacamole.

Recipe: Green Tomato Salsa

This is a great alternative to the traditional Kiwi relish or chutney. It goes really well with a fish steak that is seared in a pan, then finished off in the oven for 10 minutes. I think it will go well with all kinds of fish, but also try it on pork chops or poached chicken. The balsamic vinegar and the addition of a few sun-dried tomatoes really sweeten up what otherwise would be quite a tart salsa.

INGREDIENTS

3 large green tomatoes, diced
1 white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ red capsicum, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, diced
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp chopped coriander

METHOD

Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the onion and sweat gently. When soft add the garlic and capsicums. Stir for a minute, then add the green tomatoes. Cook on a low heat until soft. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir in. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and continue cooking for about 5 minutes until well combined. Take it off the heat and allow to cool slightly before stirring through the coriander. Keep refrigerated.

NZ Lifestyle Block This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.
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