The first person brave enough to taste a green tomato deserves props since they don't taste anything like the sweet, juicy specimens they ripen into. Even though they don't taste like ripe tomatoes, however, green tomatoes have their own delicious merits that deserve just as much attention as their red counterparts.
What Are Green Tomatoes?
Green tomatoes aren't a specific variety of tomato — any tomato that hasn't ripened can be a green tomato. (However, don't confuse them with the varieties of tomatoes that stay green when ripe, like Green Zebras.)
You'll usually find green tomatoes at the market around the fall, when temperatures have dropped and it isn't warm enough to ripen the tomatoes further. But tomatoes can be picked green off the vine at any time.
How Do You Eat Green Tomatoes?
While you can ripen green tomatoes indoors, we like to cook with them as they are. Green tomatoes are firm and acidic, sometimes to the point of astringency, but all of these things mellow out when they're cooked.
Fried green tomatoes are one of the most popular ways to cook them, and for good reason — they hold up well to being sliced, dredged, and fried, and the slight sour flavor works well with a crunchy coating. Green tomatoes also hold up well to stewing and pickling.
Why Should I Bother Eating Green Tomatoes?
Their tangy flavor and crisp texture is a fresh perspective on the tomatoes we all know and love. Although it's hard to believe, by the time late summer rolls around, I start to get tired of fresh tomatoes. There are only so many caprese salads, BLTs, and no-cook pasta sauces I can handle, delicious as they are.
Green tomatoes signal the fact that fall is around the corner, and it's also just about the time I'm ready to get back to some serious cooking. Watching a crunchy, sour green tomato magically morph into something warm and delicious makes me happy that something unripe hasn't gone to waste and has found new life in my kitchen.
Do you like eating green tomatoes? If so, what do you do with them?
(Image credits: Merydolla/Shutterstock; Cartela/Shutterstock)