As we neared danger of the first frost last fall I picked about a bushel of green tomatoes. They were just too healthy to let go. Still when I picked them I had no idea what I would do with them before they went bad.
I researched ways to encourage them to finish ripening and settled on two methods. The first involved wrapping each tomato separately in newspaper and placing them in a single layer in a shallow cardboard box. Each tomato was to be placed stem end up. The box was then stored in a cool, dark place. Each week the tomatoes would be unwrapped, the ripe ones removed and the rest rewrapped and replaced in the box.
The other method involved putting a dozen or so green tomatoes in a brown paper bag along with an apple. The top of the bag was rolled to form a loose seal. The bag could sit on the kitchen counter and be checked weekly for progress.
Both methods worked equally well. Since there was no difference in outcome and the paper bag method was much easier I soon switched completely to the bags.
We had tomatoes through November. The ones that ripened through the first part of October had decent flavor and texture and could be used for salads and sandwiches. After that the texture became more mealy but the tomatoes still made good sauces.
I tried a number of recipes. I was the only one in the house willing to try fried green tomatoes. But there were two dishes that passed the taste test. The first was a green tomato chili that I found at Cooking with Michelle. I used a mix of red and green tomatoes and it tasted like regular chili.
I felt like I was taking a risk with the second recipe for a green tomato cake from allrecipes.com (think zucchini cake). The concept was a little out there for my group so I simply referred to it as “spice cake” and it was accepted without question.
Using the bag method required very little effort and I was able to stretch the tomato supply into deep fall. If you are caught with a bunch of unripened tomatoes before the first frost this fall, I would say it is well worth it to bring them in and stick them in a paper bag.