Late Season Tomato Tips

harvest tomatoes
Late season Tomato tips

As the summer season begins to wane, thoughts of the cold weather and eminent frost comes to mind. Your tomato plants look great, loaded with all those green tomatoes and now it becomes a race against time to ripen them. Good grief!! what do I do with all these green tomatoes?

Here are some suggestions to help your tomatoes ripen faster.

Root prune
One trick is to root prune the plant. Dig a spade or garden fork into the soil 6-8″ deep and cut around a circle 12″ from the stem. Rock the spade back and forth to “shake” things up a bit. Careful not to dig up the plant. This pruning will stress the plant and signal it to ripen the fruit faster.

Pinch off flowers
Another tip to hasten ripening is to pinch off any flowers and fruit that is too small and will not mature in time. Trim back any new shoots so that the plant will use its energy to ripen the fruit instead of producing new growth. Start doing this about a month before an expected frost date.

What to do with all those green tomatoes?

If Mother Nature throws you an unexpected frost and you still have lots of green tomatoes, there is still hope. Harvest all your green tomatoes. Check for blemishes, bruises or spots and discard the bad ones. The best tomatoes for ripening will be ones with a slight yellow-pinkish color at the blossom end. Clean the tomatoes in a 1 percent bleach solution. (1 tablespoon of Clorox to 1 gal. water) dry and place in a shallow tray lined with newspaper. Do not let them touch each other. Keep them in a dark room at 60-70 degrees. They need warmth, not light to ripen. Check often for any spots, leaking or rotting and discard bad tomatoes immediately as they can affect the others.
Ripening can take 3-4 weeks. Some varieties, such as Long Keeper that store better than others.

You can also fry or pickle the green tomatoes.

 Fried Green Tomatoes

4  large green tomatoes, sliced 1/2 inch tick crosswise
1/2  cup yellow cornmeal
1/2  cup fine breadcrumbs
1/2  cup flour
salt, or seasoned salt and pepper
2     eggs
1/2  cup vegetable or peanut oil

Heat oil in a skillet. Season tomato slices with salt and pepper.  In a separate shallow pan add the flour. In one bowl, mix breadcrumbs with cornmeal and add seasonings*.  In another bowl, lightly beat eggs.  Optional-You can add a bit of milk or buttmilk to the eggs.
Dip tomato slices in flour then egg, then in the cornmeal/breadcrumb mix.
Fry in a single layer for 3-5 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on papper towel and enjoy when slightly cooled.
*seasoning optional –  can be Cajun style or Italian style.