Monday, October 18, 2004

Fifty-Four Green Tomatoes

I do realize that this blog has a higher-than-average number of entries focused on tomatoes. This is likely to be the last one for this year. (Are those sighs of relief or regret?) On Saturday, I cut down my tomato plants. Despite their less-than-stellar performance during July and August, in September they started setting tons of fruit. Thus, it pained me to have to do away with the plants now that they seemed poised to do great things. However, I had to face facts: a) there is no way the tomatoes would ever ripen on the vine, given the declining temperatures and shorter, gloomier days b) vile stinkbugs and horrid green worms were gaining a foothold c) the plants were all keeled over and sprawling and had become quite an eyesore.

Starting with a plant that had at one point been about as tall as I am, I hacked the vines into manageable pieces, but somehow could not bear to relegate any tomato that was free of wormholes to the yard waste bag, which is why 54 green tomatoes—most of them hard as a landlord’s heart—now occupy approximately one-quarter of our precious kitchen counter space.

Nothing much has happened on the ripening front yet, and I’m now wondering if my heroic efforts to rescue nearly five dozen tomatoes weren’t a bit short-sighted. What shall I do if they all ripen at the same time? Canning is not a skill in my repertoire, nor do I really enjoy canned tomatoes, having eaten enough for a lifetime when I was a kid. Suppose they don’t ripen at all? I don’t fancy fried green tomatoes. I tried making them last year and ended up with a platter of insipid grease-sodden disks that no amount of seasoning could make palatable. (Green tomatoes being, evidently, one of the few things that can’t be improved by deep frying.)

If I see no signs of ripening in a week, I’m afraid the tomatoes' fate will be the compost heap. Best case scenario would be that a handful of tomatoes ripens every day, providing B and I with fresh tomatoes until the end of October. Probably not too realistic, but I can hope.


Blogger Jamie said...

In "The New Vegetarian Epicure," one of my favorite cookbooks, Anna Thomas suggests you cut green tomatoes into large chunks, toss them with chunks of other vegetables (most importantly either kabocha/hubbard squash or sweet potato, which offsets the green tomatoes' tartness, but also potatoes, onions, red tomatoes, garlic) in a little olive oil and salt, and roast everything in a big open dish at 400 degrees for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.

It's really good and may help you use up some of the surplus.

9:52 AM  
Blogger Rozanne said...

Coincidentally, I have what surely must be "The [Old] Vegetarian Epicure" (c) 1972. A friend gave it to me many years after it was published and I always deemed it more of a curiosity than an actual usuable cookbook. All the recipes call for tremendous quantities of either butter, cheese, cream, or all three. Even too much for me.

I presume the newer edition is a little more heart healthy or Anna Thomas would have stroked out by now. Anyway, Jamie, that green tomato recipe sounds *quite* promising and yummy. I'll try it this weekend (if not before). Thanks!

12:15 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

Yes, to quote from the introduction:

"That first Vegetarian Epicure, and its sequel, The Vegetarian Epicure, Book Two, captured the geist of a certain time--it was a guilt-free era, when butter and cream were used without a care and cheese ruled. Today, of course, our attitudes are different."

This one has almost peculiar levels of winter squash, white beans, chard, and chiles. Everything is roasted and/or is a soup or salad. I'd kick the ass of anyone who tried to take it from me. It's awesome.

7:23 AM  
Blogger Rozanne said...

I will have to get a copy of the reformed Vegetarian Epicure. Roasting is an appealing cooking method in winter, as it cozies up the house. Also, it doesn't require too much effort, which has year-round appeal for lazy old me.

12:37 PM  

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