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Brace yourself for good, bad news about tomatoes

The good news is there are plenty of delicious ways to prepare them. The bad news: the harvest will end soon.


by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Fried Green Tomatoes are a delicious way to use unripened tomatoes. They can be made with any color of tomatoes. I’ve got bad news. The tomato harvest is coming to an end. My husband Mark informed me that he has brought home the last of this year’s crop; what we have on hand is what we have.

I think the end of the harvest is what prompted my friend Helen Ball to call me last week. She had an abundance of them and had frankly been a little puzzled that they hadn’t turned red, as she didn’t think she had planted a green variety. She said they seemed ripe and she had a hankering for Fried Green Tomatoes. Did I have a recipe? Of course, as well as a little information about green, meaning unripe, and green-colored, yellow, orange and purple-colored tomatoes.

Green, or unripe tomatoes, are those that haven’t had enough sun to ripen to their mature color. They can be used to make a variety of foods. My siblings and I have circulated my grandmother’s green tomato relish recipe, which for some reason is named “Aunt Edith’s Green Tomato Relish.” I don’t know who Aunt Edith is, but she makes a great relish. My mom uses green tomatoes to make mincemeat and I’ve heard pickled green cherry tomatoes make a zippy garnish for martinis or Bloody Marys.

You can ripen small green tomatoes and cherry tomatoes indoors if you cut the vine and hang it in your kitchen window. Larger tomatoes can be wrapped individually in newspaper or paper towels and stored in a box in a dark place. Using this method, you can enjoy fresh garden tomatoes as late as Thanksgiving. Just check them frequently and toss out any moldy ones.

I visited Territorial Seeds’ website territorialseed.com to learn about varieties of tomatoes that ripen in colors other than red. by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Tomatoes come in a variety of colors, including green, yellow, orange, red and deep purple.The green zebra is true green in color. Pineapple, Kellogg’s Breakfast, Gold Medal, Persimmon and Orange Oxheart ripen to beautiful shades of yellow and orange while Purple Calabash, Cherokee Purples and Japanese Trifele Blacks ripen into deep reddish purple colors. When you start planning your garden for next year be sure to visit Territorial Seeds’ website for inspiration.

Want to really kick your end of season tomato dishes up a knotch? Be sure to use quality olive oil. While at Feast Portland I sampled three oils made by Oregon Olive Mill at Red Ridge Farm in Dayton. RRF is growing 13,000 olive trees in the Willamette Valley including Spanish, Greek, Italian and French varieties. The oils are delicious. You have an opportunity to sample them yourself at the fourth annual Olio Nuovo Festa Nov. 16, 17 and 18 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. the event is free and all ages are welcome. For complete details, visit redridgefarms.com.

And now, what to do with those tomatoes? Here is a recipe for really tasty Fried Green Tomatoes with Remoulade Sauce, from caterer Kathy Casey of Seattle, plus recipes for a unique Tomato Jam and a Tomato and Sweet Onion Crumble, which just shouts ‘comfort food’ to me. Hopefully their flavors will soften the blow of not being able to enjoy tomatoes fresh from the garden for awhile.

Bon appetite! Eat something wonderful!

Fried Green Tomatoes with Remoulade Sauce

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 cup flour

½ cup yellow cornmeal

2 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

½ teaspoon paprika or smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton)

4 to 5 large green tomatoes cut into ½ inch thick slices (making about 16 slices)

Vegetable oil or a mixture of oil and bacon drippings for frying

Remoulade Sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat an oven to 165 to 200 degree F. In a plate or shallow bowl, mix the flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper and paprika with a fork.

Dredge the tomato slices, a few at a time, in the seasoned flour to coat well. Set the tomatoes aside on a lightly floured baking sheet. Reserve the flour mixture.

In a large skillet, heat ¼ to 1/3 inch oil over medium heat. Fry the tomato slices in batches for about 2 to 5 minutes, or until golden brown on each side, turning as necessary. As the tomatoes are done, transfer them to a cake rack set on a baking pan to keep warm in the low oven.

Divide the tomatoes among individual plates and serve immediately, accompanied with the remoulade.

Remoulade Sauce

You can also add a touch of horseradish to this for some extra kick!

Makes 1 cup

¾ cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons finely chopped dill pickle

1 tablespoon drained capers, chopped

½ green onion, very thinly sliced

1 ½ teaspoon whole grain mustard

¼ teaspoon Tabasco sauce

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1/8 teaspoon celery seed

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients.

Chef’s note: the sauce can be made up to 4 days in advance and refrigerated until needed.

From Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table, 2006

Tomato Jam

Makes about 2 cups

1 ½ pounds cherry tomatoes (about 4 cups), rinsed and stemmed

1 ¼ cups firmly packed brown sugar

¼ cup vinegar

½ lemon, 3 oz. total, including peel, rinsed and very thinly sliced

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1 teaspoon ground cumin

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

18 teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

In a 3 to 4 quart pan, combine tomatoes, brown sugar, lemon , ginger, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often.

Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is reduced to 2 cups and has the consistency of thick jam, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Use as a spread for Ham and Manchego sandwiches or other combinations.

Adapted from Sunset Magazine

Tomato and Sweet Onion Crumble

Makes 8 to 10 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 sweet onions, (about 1 pound total), such as Walla Walla or Oso, peeled and thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

2 pounds ripe tomatoes, rinsed, cored and sliced ¼ inch thick

1/3 cup chopped fresh basil

3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves

Salt and pepper

4 slices crusty artisan style bread, each about 1 inch thick and 3 by 5 inches, cut into chunks

¼ cup butter

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a 10 to 12 inch frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add onions and garlic. Stir frequently until onions are limip and beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Pour into a 2 to 3 quart baking dish with sides at least 2 inches high, and spread onions level. Top evenly with tomato slices, basil and oregano. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

In a food processor, whirl bread and butter and cheese until mixture forms coarse crumbs. Sprinkle evenly over tomatoes.

Bake in a 350 degree oven until topping is golden brown and juices are bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool 5 minutes and serve warm.

Adapted from http://MyRecipes.com.

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-636-1281 ext.101 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..