Late season tomato varieties may not get red
But they can still be used as delicious snacks.
by Lars Lund
It is tomato season. However, some may have sown late season tomatoes, that ripen later and they may not even become ripe. That is no problem because green tomatoes can be preserved. In fact, a lot of people preserve the tomatoes when they are still green. Some say they are poisonous, which in fact are true, but they are not that poisonous that they can harm you – according to the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration. It has been an ongoing debate in many years, and still are. Myths about how poisonous they are, have been very difficult to debunk. A note from 2004 from the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration says that the toxic substance alpha-Tomatine does not, according to them, pose any risk if you eat tomatoes in moderation. Green potatoes contain the same substance, and it is almost the same amount as in tomatoes. Although, for potatoes the assessment is that you should be cautious since the consumption of potatoes are often much higher than for tomatoes.
Split tomatoes must be picked
When the temperature at day and night varies a lot, the red tomatoes begin to split open. The tomatoes split when there is condensation on the fruits, causing them to crack. To avoid condensation, you can ventilate in the greenhouse. It is likely that the cracked tomatoes develop fungus, therefore, if the tomatoes are ripen, it is best to harvest them now. You can quickly eat the small cherry tomatoes, and the bigger ones you can boil and use for a sauce.
Tomatoes can be dried, but a tomato consists of 94% water, so there will not be much left after drying them. For drying it is the tomato sort that determines which tomatoes are best suitable. The best ones are the oblong Perino tomatoes but feel free to experiment. Sometimes you will get surprised. Cut them in four pieces, put them on an oven rack and dry them in the oven at 30-40 degrees for 8-12 hours. Take them out while they are still soft, otherwise they will be tough and difficult to chew.
There are green tomatoes that will never turn red. These are sorts like the small Cherry Green Grape and the tasteful Lime-Green Tomato, which is a medium-size tomato with a sweet and fresh taste. The skin turns a bit yellow when it ripens, but the tomato pulp stays green. Another example is the Green Zebra which has a nice balance of a sweet and sour taste.
Green tomatoes for winter
100 years ago, green tomatoes were more normal to cultivate, since most tomatoes were grown out in the open or in a windowsill. Here is one recipe to use 1kg of green tomatoes.
Rinse, dry and perforate the tomatoes with a fork. Boil half a litre of vinegar and mix in ½ kg (17.6 ounces) of sugar and some spices (cinnamon, clove and ginger). Add the tomatoes and boil it all for 5 minutes. Take the pot off the heat and let the tomatoes sit in the mixture until the next day.
Next day boil the mixture again for 5 minutes on low heat. Take out the tomatoes and put them in clean jars. Let the liquid boil again for another 5 minutes. Then you skim it and add a preservative before pouring the liquid in the jar with the tomatoes. Seal the jar.
Watch my video on how to cultivate green tomatoes.
Note that the video is in Danish, but it is possible to choose English subtitles in settings.
- Open the video on YouTube by clicking on the YouTube-logo in the right corner
- Click settings
- Click on ‘Subtitles/CC’ and then ‘Auto-translate’ to choose your preferred language
Please watch the video or read the recipe for sweet pickled tomatoes. You can watch the video (now with subtitles).
Sweet pickled tomatoes is a recipe from the Danish cook book “Den grønne syltebog” (in English: The green book of preservatives) by Tørsleffs.
Sweet pickled tomatoes
What you will need:
1kg (35.3 ounces) of tomatoes – in the video we are only using half. 3 dL (10,6fl oz) of boiled water, 3 dL (10,6fl oz) of vinegar and a mixture of 750 g (26,5 ounces) of sugar, 3 whole cloves, 1 ginger, 5 cm whole cinnamon, 1 tsp of atamon.
Rinse and perforate the tomatoes. Next, put them in a mixture of vinegar and water for 6-12 hours. Pour half of the mixture out and store for later use. Boil the tomatoes for 5 minutes in the liquid on low heat. Pour in the sugar and add the spices. Let it continue boiling for 10 to 15 minutes until thickened. Add 1 tsp of atamon. Put the tomatoes in a jar and pour the liquid on top.
Om Lars Lund
Danish horticulturist and journalist
Lars Lund has for many years engaged in the garden and greenhouse. Lars has published many books about greenhouses, and he has participated in many Danish horticultural TV shows. He is a walking garden encyclopaedia, and he has answers for most basic cultivation questions – also the more ambitious ones.
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