How to become a fried green tomato

Earlier in the season, I lamented my lack of appropriately-sized and -shaped fruit for fried green tomatoes, but apparently I should have kept my mouth shut.

My Brandywine plant has been setting out good fruit—not huge numbers of tomatoes, but good-sized ones that look pretty, for the most part—but the fact is that they weigh an awful lot. The weight of tomatoes is something that has totally taken me aback this year—after last year’s black walnut stuntation (I know it’s not a word, but bear with me…), I had no idea what I was in for. It seems that starting with good seedlings and planting them in a beneficial location leads to mad overgrowth—of branches, of leaves, of tomatoes.

As a result, I’ve staked my tomatoes all over the place, but Broken Brandywinemostly in support of random branches that are sending out fruit into the air as if they think they’re at the edge of the Grand Canyon or something.

A branch broke earlier in the season already, so it didn’t surprise me all that much when I walked outside Friday morning to find a branch of the Brandywine plant pointing toward the ground instead of the sky. At first, I didn’t really notice that anything was wrong, but upon closer inspection, it became clear the branch had to come off, and the three tomatoes that took the joyride down with it (and, to be fair, caused said joyride) had to retire to my kitchen.

I trimmed off the branch, checked for other impending Three greenscatastrophes underway on that particular plant, and took the three green babies inside. I lined them up on the windowsill at first, then decided to check out the power of ethylene and stored two of them in a paper bag, just to see if they’ll actually ripen. The third? It’s the perfect size and shape for fried and green, and it has a cast iron skillet with its name on it.

15 Responses to “How to become a fried green tomato”

  1. 1 chigiy July 24, 2007 at 12:57 am

    I have had really good luck just setting out green tomatoes, even if they are really green and having them ripen fully.

    Also, you have given me an idea. I think I am going to write about the tomato baskets my husband made me. They are industrial strength and work really well. They are big and there is no staking involved. I also use them for sweet peas. I set one or two up and plant the sweet peas around them. Voila’–no staking.

  2. 2 kate July 24, 2007 at 1:53 am

    I’d like to read a post about that Chigiy! I just broke a branch off one of my tomatoes while trying to get it to twine around a bamboo support. Green tomatoes for me but in a hot sunny window they ripen well. Your tomatoes look good!

  3. 3 Michelle July 24, 2007 at 2:33 am

    I used the paper bag method and had a lot of luck. My father in law said that that you can use stakes or cages and make pantyhose supports. I use twin to tie up various branches all around the cage.

    My greenies were in the bag for at least 2 weeks probably much longer (this summer is flying by) and they did eventually ripen even after I had pretty much lost hope!

  4. 4 steven July 24, 2007 at 8:04 am

    The Florida Weave is the answer to all your problems. No broken branches..ever. Of course it’s too late for that now, but keep it in mind for next season.

  5. 5 Annie in Austin July 24, 2007 at 11:09 am

    My question is culinary rather than horticultural, Genie…or maybe it’s from a housewife point of view.

    How can you make fried green tomatoes from one tomato? If I’m going to have all that cleanup and grease, there’d better be a much bigger payoff!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  6. 6 inadvertentgardener July 24, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    Chigiy–Let me know when you write about those baskets — I’d love to read about them!

    Kate–I’m hopeful for the ripening. I know they won’t taste as good as vine-ripened ones, but still…

    Michelle–I have a couple that I ought to throw some pantyhose on…kind of a tomato bra…

    Steven–I’ve been totally intimidated by the Florida Weave. I think I need to get over the fear and just make the leap.

    Annie–Well, it’s a pretty big tomato…trust me! And I’ll use kind of minimal grease. But yeah, it’s a little impractical.

  7. 7 Marc @ GardenDesk July 24, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    I have some tomatoes that are doing that as well!

    If it happens to you again (I hope it doesn’t), here is something new to try:

    Cut the broken branch off completely, keeping the green tomatoes attached. Hang the entire branch up on a fence or wall or something. Keeping it in the shade is the best. In most cases, as the branch wilts, all of the remaining energy will be sent to the fruit and the tomatoes will ripen!

    I heard about it from an old farmer who pulls up his entire plants at the end of the season just before frost and hangs them in his shed to ripen.

    To be honest with you, I have tried this twice and it only worked once, so I can’t personally guarantee it. It is a fun experiment to try if you are out of paper bags or don’t like fried green tomatoes!

  8. 8 inadvertentgardener July 24, 2007 at 10:44 pm

    Marc, that is an interesting tip…and really, a 50 percent success ratio is better than nothing, eh? Thanks for sharing the idea!

  9. 9 Maria July 26, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    Mine do that as well – (first year I’ve had that problem – also first year I’ve made all my tomato plants myself… hmmm )And I was thinking about what to do with them… I’m going to try your recipe for green fried… tomorrow!

  10. 10 inadvertentgardener July 26, 2007 at 7:14 pm

    Maria, let me know how the recipe turns out for you! They’re so tasty…I’m a huge fan of the tomato fried and green.

  11. 11 Jetty July 31, 2007 at 10:17 am

    Jenny told me about your site. Just have spent over an hour browsing through it. How interesting and enjoyable! Have had little rain here so the vegetables are arriving late from my garden. I picked about 2 gal. of green beans on Sunday evening. Gave most of them away to neighbors. Have green peppers, cukes, zucchini, yellow summer squash, lettuce and onions. Tomatoes and okra are starting to come in. Have over 60 tomato plants! I will be visiting Jenny next week so she will get a load of fresh veggies. My dilemna: I just don’t know how I will manage the time there—playing with grandkids and preparing the fresh produce for the table.

  12. 12 inadvertentgardener August 1, 2007 at 9:00 am

    Jetty, I’m so glad you found me and stopped by! I’m so impressed by your harvest, and by your 60 tomato plants — that’s amazing! Have a great trip to see Jenny, and have a great time with the grandkids! (I have a feeling that produce will take care of itself while you’re playing…) :-)

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