There are some differences of opinion about when to fry your green tomatoes for optimum flavor and firmness. They have to have a bit of hardness in order to hold up under the process of being seasoned, coated in flour or cornmeal, and fried until golden, but the greener and harder they are, the more tartness will come through. One recipe I recently consulted suggested a pale orange blush would be ideal (such as the middle tomato in the photo to the left, from our garden).
In Seattle, early October, our tomatoes are still ripening. We went up to Snohomish and visited an organic U-Pick farm where we noticed they had all their tomatoes in a greenhouse even though it was still warm outside. This prompted us to wrap our tomatoes in plastic which has resulted in happy plants and ongoing ripening and the plants are still going strong. What to do as the season draws to an end, to insure the best chance of the most tomatoes, is an ongoing source of discussion among many of our friends and neighbors, and some other highly recommended strategies are snipping off all the new stems with flowers, taking off the fruit as they start to ripen so the next ones get a chance (and finish the ripening process on the counter in a brown paper bag) and even pulling the plants up by the roots and hanging them upside down in the garage, where, I’m told, the fruit continues to happily ripen. Don’t know how the plant feels about it (Steve is reading The Secret Life of Plants and we are astonished to learn of all the research that show they do indeed feel strongly about a variety of things that affect them).
So here we are with a bounty of green tomatoes and a top-notch gas stove upon which to fry them. It is definitely cooler at night now, and we are less than a month from Halloween. The Harvest Moon is rising every evening, called that because in the old days it used to provide farmers with much needed extra hours to get the harvest in. Our little harvest is not that demanding, but let’s face it, the warm days will soon be a sweet memory. It is Fried Green Tomato Season in Seattle. Enjoy while the bounty lasts! Here is a great recipe if you need one.