Green Tomatoes. These babies are a delicacy. To get green tomatoes, you have to know someone with a tomato plant. The grocery store doesn’t know what one of these is (although to taste tomatoes from the store, you’d think they were green). The farmer’s market won’t even do you for a good green tomato (unless they’re the kind that never turn red). No, most sane people like to keep their tomatoes on the vine until they turn red. Don’t get me wrong, a juicy red tomato pulled straight from the vine is the essence of perfection; a good one will almost make me cry. But as anyone who has ever successfully grown tomatoes knows, if you wait for all of them to ripen before you pick them, they’ll be rotten before you can finish eating them. And you’ll never want to see another tomato again. Nor will your neighbors. *
Simple solution: pick some of them before they’re ripe, and figure out a different way to use them. Hence, the fried green tomato was born. According to granny, you have to fry them green, because the red ones “don’t have a strong enough constitution” and they’ll fall apart in the frying pan. Personally, I think it would be doing a ripe tomato a disservice to fry it; they’re delicious enough already. I know it’s another recipe that calls for deep frying something, but it’s not too bad–you don’t need a whole vat of oil (unlike Granny’s fried ribs)–and you can use olive oil if it makes you feel better. I still recommend the cast iron skillet, though!
*Funny story–my first job after college took me to Boston for awhile; I found an apartment with a guy who had lived in the city his whole life. When I moved in, I found no less than fifteen tomato plants scattered in pots on the back balcony. My roommate called it his “agriculture experiment” and hoped to get enough tomatoes for a couple of salads by the end of the summer. Needless to say, we ate a lot of salads. And spaghetti. And tomato sandwiches.
The method for frying green tomatoes is pretty self explanatory:
Dredge each slice in some cornmeal, salt, and pepper, and throw in a hot skillet.
Leave them alone while they brown; you don’t want to flip them more than once or they’ll fall apart. It should take 2-3 minutes for each side. Remove from skillet and drain on a paper towel.
Savor the beauty that is an unripe tomato. If you can get your hands on them, that is.
Next time: something from granny that isn’t dredged in cornmeal and deep fried–promise!