Thursday, November 17, 2016
What Do I Do With All These Green Tomatoes? || Garden Day
The calendar says it's just a week until Thanksgiving, and yet here I am, tromping barefoot around the homestead. We've had an extraordinarily long, warm fall here in the Miami River Valley of Ohio, and though I've been pining a bit for cooler temps - I mean, November should feel like November, y'all! - it's been really helpful in a lot of ways.
The goats are still in the woods eating plenty of green stuff, which helps lower the hay bill quite a bit. We've been able to put off using the wood stove much, too, which means fewer through-the-snow trips to replenish the woodpile on the back porch this winter.
And this warmer weather means the garden has really never stopped producing. There is still a beautiful mess of heirloom lettuce and rainbow swiss chard out there, and until a few days ago, there were still 75 or so tomato plants growing their little tomato hearts out.
Looking at the 10-day weather forecast, I decided to take advantage of the warmer temperatures and finally take them all down before they just froze to death (and me right along with them, ripping up garden fencing in the coming 30˚'s!)
We tipped the scale at just over 2,500 lbs. of tomatoes this year -- our best year of tomatoes ever -- and I really wouldn't have felt bad about just tossing vines -- with their green tomatoes still attached -- to the chickens. In fact, that's exactly what I would have done just before the first freeze in years past. But last year, someone tipped me off to a little green tomato trick that I want to share with y'all.
First, just go ahead and pick your green tomatoes. Those that are salvageable have a sheen to them - the ones that don't are dull green. It takes a bit of practice to discern between the two, but if you save a dull green one, nothing will happen except that it will never ripen. No worries.
Now you must find a place to store them! We clear off a few shelves in the basement pantry and line them stem side down (so they don't roll away). You might want to put down newspaper or shallow cardboard boxes if you're worried about one rotting. When deciding where to store them, here are a few considerations: It should be a relatively dark, cool place, but not freezing (so not the garage or attic), and it should be in a location that you will visit often so that you won't forget to check on them. (Or, if you are very forgetful, you could set a reminder in your calendar!)
Now, just wait. Literally, that's all there is to it. In the photo below, every tomato was green when placed on that shelf 3 days before, and you can see how quickly some had already started to ripen. Last winter, most of our tomatoes ripened by the end of January, but a few held out until February.
Every three days or so, check your stock. Just make sure there are no rotten ones (you'll smell that!) and if you find any that are starting to pink up, bring them to your kitchen.
I sit them on my kitchen window sill to ripen a bit more in the afternoon sun. We either eat them like fresh-picked, (BLT's with Ohio-grown tomatoes in February!) or if I have a glut of ripe ones, I will halve them and toss them in a freezer bag (skins and all) for a stew later on.
We picked over 200 green tomatoes this week, so knowing that we can continue to use them is a real blessing. I hope it blesses you, too!
What do you do with your green tomatoes?
Just so you know: Some of my links are affiliate links. That means I get a little bit back if you choose to purchase a linked item. It doesn't cost you anything, but it might help me buy another chicken...Win-Win! Thanks!