Sense & Centsibility Blog

The Green Tomato: The Fruit That Keeps on Giving

It’s been a good garden year for me. I’ve supplied my household, friends, family, passers-by and the local food shelf with a variety of beautiful, fresh, organic produce. I couldn’t even begin to calculate the dollars saved. Add in the physical and environmental benefits of gardening, and the economic payback rises significantly.

It is early October, and the first frost has yet to hit the Twin Cities in Minnesota. I’m still harvesting summer squash, tomatoes, greens, herbs, peppers and more.  When frost hits one day (any time now!), you will find me in the garden that evening frantically picking the remaining green tomatoes by flashlight.

My counters will be full of green tomatoes, as they are every year. Green tomatoes extend the delicious bounty of summer long into the short chilly days of fall. Green tomatoes are quite nutritious, providing vitamin C, several B vitamins, vitamins A and K, calcium and other minerals, protein, fiber and more.

I keep some to continue ripening. I put them in a single layer in a box and cover, checking them periodically.  I can have red ripe tomatoes on my Thanksgiving salad!

What else can you do with green tomatoes?

  • Fried Green Tomatoes, of course, are a well-loved dish. Like good fried chicken, though, they require skill and practice.
  • Add chopped green tomatoes to stir fry, soups and stews for a delicious and nutritious tang. No skill required.
  • Freeze to use in the dead of winter. So easy—just chop up and pack into containers.
  • Pickle them to put on sandwiches, burgers, salads, or to eat right out of the jar. Pickled green tomatoes are my favorite pickle!
  • Make salsas and relishes.
  • Bake cakes, sweet breads or pies with green tomatoes. The first time I made my grandmother’s Green Tomato Pie for some friends, they were very skeptical. Now, each fall they ask me when I’m making another pie.
  • Find dozens of recipes and other ideas online.

So, if you are one of the growing multitudes of home or community gardeners, keep your eye on the forecast, and pick those green tomatoes to continue reaping the innumerable benefits of growing your own food!

Gram’s Green Tomato Pie Recipe 

  • Initial ingredients:  Four Tablespoons flour, two tablespoons sugar, pastry for a two-crust pie, five cups of thin-sliced green tomatoes. Combine flour and sugar; sprinkle ½ over the bottom crust.  Reserve the rest.
  • Combine sliced green tomatoes, one teaspoon salt, one cup sugar, one teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg.
  • Put into pie shell, and sprinkle with one tablespoon of lemon juice
  • Sprinkle reserve flour and sugar mixture, dot with butter.
  • Cover with top crust and seal.
  • Brush with milk and sprinkle sugar over.
  • Bake 10 minutes at 450°, then reduce to 350° and bake for 1 ½ hours.

Author Mary Ellen Kaluza is a Financial Counselor at LSS Financial Counseling. LSS specializes in helping people taking control of their finances, such as finding ways to cut food costs. Visit our website to learn more.