Green Tomatoes Ripe for Recipes

The sad fact of gardening in Colorado is that the season is too short for all the green tomatoes to ripen before the first freeze hits.

The forecast for overnight lows in the 30s sent me scrambling yesterday to harvest all the tomatoes and peppers still growing in the garden.

I knew I had quite a bit of fruit left on the plants, but it wasn’t until I started filling up baskets, colanders and buckets did I realize how many beautiful green tomatoes were waiting on the vine.

Some plants still had bright yellow blossoms and would continue on for months, if I lived in a tropical climate.

Now, what to do with all these green gems?

Generations of creative cooks have made the most of this late-season harvest of green tomatoes by preparing them and preserving them.

Green tomatoes can be sautéed, stewed, roasted, fried, made into relish or chutney, stirred into soup, baked into bread or cake, and preserved by canning or freezing. There are hundreds of recipes available online, especially these from the University of Alaska Extension. If any group should know about green tomatoes, it’s Master Gardeners in Alaska. I plan to include these recipes when I take a big bag of green tomatoes to my neighborhood food pantry.

How to Ripen Green Tomatoes

After all the green fruit is harvested, sort the tomatoes according to size and color. Mature green tomatoes have a good size and have started to change color from green to a light white or barely pink.

Because these tomatoes will eventually ripen and have a good taste, I wrap them individually in newspaper and keep them in a cool, dark spot in the basement. Every few days I check their progress over several weeks. I look forward to opening up each little bundle and always feel like I’ve won a prize when I find a bright red tomato ready to eat.

Then I sort the remaining immature tomatoes by their uses. Some of the larger green tomatoes will be cut into quarters, placed in a roasting pan, drizzled with olive oil, and slow roasted for several hours. I’ll refrigerate this batch to use as a condiment to accompany meat or curry dishes.

Other green tomatoes will be washed, cored, and diced for freezing in convenient two-cup packets. These chopped tomatoes have a future as a tasty vegetable to be tossed or blended into soups, sautéed and added to omelets, simmered into stews, or baked into other dishes that benefit from their bright, piquant flavor.

With careful planning, I’ll be able to enjoy my green tomatoes until it’s time to plant some more.


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I’ll be harvesting lots of green tomatoes today. Thanks for the tip on wrapping in newspaper… Will try that!

I was raised in Quebec so talk about short summers! Come early September, it was always a scramble to get in the tomatoes in time before the frost.
As long as they had a tinge of white, they were stored on one layer, not touching, between newspapers to keep them in the dark at room temperature for ripening. Actually, you can save yourself a lot of work by not wrapping them individually which also makes the checking that much easier.
One of my favorite memories was coming home after school to the smell of what French Canadians call “green tomato ketchup” (a savory chutney) which was made from the totally green tomatoes and use as a condiment with meats.

P.S Jodi, I came to your site for your pickling jalapeno pepper recipe which is tomorrow’s fun project. Can’t wait to taste them.

Hi Rosalind–Thanks so much for stopping by…I hope you enjoy your pickled peppers.

I’m going to see if I can find a recipe for green tomato ketchup. We love chutney around here and that sounds like a terrific way to use green tomatoes. If you have a recipe, would you mind emailing it to me at

I’d appreciate it! (I also liked your tip for ripening green tomatoes indoors.)


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