My husband and I are realists (pessimists?) when it comes to planting tomatoes. After a few years of trial & error, we now stick with planting the smaller grape & cherry tomatoes. The harvest is always plentiful, even when the warm weather is not, giving our green thumbs a real ego boost. This summer was a disappointing one in the gardening department. Cool weather meant later crops and smaller harvests. As signs of fall start to appear, most gardeners are moaning about all their green tomatoes hanging on the vines:
“Tomatoes have everyone feeling blue, rather than seeing red. Several times a day, someone asks me despondently why they don’t have ripe fruit. I think I should wear a sign that says, “You’re not doing anything wrong.” It’s just been too cool and moist. Not even the professionals are successful this year. I talked to Josh Kirschenbaum, who does product development for Territorial Seed Co., and was astonished to learn that of the 300 varieities growing in the trial gardens at London Spring near Cottage Grove, only about 10 had ripened by Aug. 25. And they know what they’re doing. The tomatoes that had come along were cherry types or ultra-early varieties.” – from “Color it Sad” by Kym Pokorny, The Oregonian HGNW 9/9/10
There are uses for green tomatoes, but if you’re more interested in the red ones, there are several options. You can find a field to pick your own or you can talk with farmers at local markets or garden stands about buying them pre-picked. Ask them if they can cut you a deal on a larger order.
You could roast & freeze tomatoes or marinara sauce, can tomatoes for use in a hundred different fall/winter recipes, or split them with other people and eat them fresh. The possibilities are endless. Here are a handful of my current favorite tomato recipes:
Roasted Tomatoes by Ina Garten
Roasted Tomato Basil Soup by Ina Garten
Sweet Cherry Tomato & Sausage Bake by Jamie Oliver
This year, I am doing a bit of everything. I ordered canning tomatoes grown in Washington from Growers Outlet, a great little place on 161st & Glisan in Portland. Some of their produce is overpriced, but they do have good deals tucked in here and there, especially when buying in bulk. I ordered 500 pounds (I know, crazy, right?) that I plan on evenly splitting with 4 other women.
By placing one big order instead of five smaller ones, we scored a better deal, paying $13 instead of $14.95/25 lb. box. We are going to help each other can them over the course of a few days next week. In the end, we’ll each pay around $50 for over 40 quarts of canned tomatoes each with a few pounds left over for other uses. It should be fun. Exhausting, but fun.
Any success in your garden this year? If not, where do you buy tomatoes? What is your favorite way to use them?
This post may contain affiliate links. See the disclosure policy for more information.
Thanks for the tip on ordering! I lived right by that grower’s Outlet and had no idea they did bulk orders! All that time u-picking…. I have my 350 lbs ordered and ready for pick-up Friday!! WOOHOO!!! (I was getting a little worried since the u-pick places have lots of green tomatoes too!)
Got tomatoes for canning this year and not impressed with the quality *sigh*
I would love to join a canning group if there’s room anywhere! I would appreciate it tremendously!
I’ve had issues for years with tomatoes not ripening… here’s what I did: I waited until I was scared to leave them on the vine and picked EVERYthing. I put it in buckets in the house and waited until they ripened. They still worked great for canning!
A couple other things about tomatoes (for the future) they do not like too much water, especially once they have tomatoes on. The second thing I’ve learned is they like radiant heat! At our old house we planted up against the house on the south side and NEVER had any trouble. Since we’ve moved and have space we have tried several different locations (but not against the house on the south side) and we have trouble getting them to turn red on the vine. Just a hint for next year! (Next year I am planting on the south side and plan to have a great tomato crop!)
Flustered w/ the green tomato scene several years in a row I searched for green tomato recipes. my all time favcorite is green enchilada sauce. Basically greem tomatoes, chili powder, garlic if you like and a little onion I think. You can find it on line really easy. It makes incredible enchiladas. Just pour 1/2 a quart in a 9x13m roll up any kind of meat in a tortilla with cheese and onion and pour the rest of the quart of the sauce on top. They are delicious!!!! and so easy. Now I ablolutely look forward to my green tomatoes! PTL
Kelleigh @ Kelleigh Ratzlaff Designs says
WOW! I’ll have to try this!!
I just heard a tip from a friend the other day…if your tomatoes don’t ripen before the weather turns, uproot the entire plant and hang it upside down somewhere and the tomatoes will ripen without losing (probably) much nutritional value since they’re still riping on the vine. I plan to try this if my tomatoes don’t ripen.
Also, in the “Complete Book of Home Preserving” (put out by Ball) there are several recipes that use green tomatoes. One is for Salsa Verde…which I totally plan to try! If anyone is interested, I might even put the process up on my website: http://www.courageoushomekeeping.com when I do it!
I pick green ones and just leave them in a bowl on kitchen counter. They’ll become red as time goes by…even the green ones that looked hopeless when I picked. I remember two years ago I was putting cherry tomatoes (from our garden) in my daughter’s lunch box as late as early December.
Last year, I had plenty of Romas from our garden. I had no time to make sauce, so I froze them in a zip loc. Later, I just put them in a bowl of warm water for a few seconds and the skin came off easily.
Kelleigh @ Kelleigh Ratzlaff Designs says
Ha!! But WHAT do we do with the green ones? I see another post in the near future!!
My friend is ordering 1000 lbs. of pears and 1000 lbs of apples. CRAZY, but she is splitting them with a couple of us for canning/drying/etc. I’m so excited!! AND, those great Ball/Kerr $1/1 item coupons are AWESOME! Makes for cheap (50¢) lids at Walmart and Bi-mart.