Monday, November 22, 2010

Green Tomatoes and the Big Chill

So, your tomatoes are still producing, not all of the fruit is ripe and a heavy frost or freeze is forecast, what do you do? You get out there and pick all of your tomatoes of course, regardless of color, as the cold front's winds are bearing down, threatening to turn your still productive plants into dead tomatocicles.

You're not into the fried green tomato thing you say? Not to worry. Tomatoes are climacteric fruits. This means that they will continue to ripen after you pick them. Last year I decided to see just how green a tomato could be and still ripen to a lovely red and taste like a homegrown tomato. I kept my rescued tomatoes in a colander in the kitchen away from heat sources and out of the direct sunlight. I was surprised to find out that even the dark green ones would eventually ripen. The occasional fruit would shrivel a bit, however almost every tomato ripened and was enjoyed instead of being left on the vine to freeze. It was great having a tomato from my garden at Christmas.

As I am writing this, we are in a warm spell in between a couple of light frosts and our first freeze that is predicted for Thanksgiving night. (Guess what I'll be doing after turkey dinner?) Before our previous light frost I picked just one small slicer that was barely beginning to blush. (I have a system for keeping a light frost from damaging the plants so that they can continue to produce until a heavy frost or freeze.) The tomato pictured was picked on November 17 and photographed on November 18. I will do a follow up post to let you know how long it took to fully ripen and what it looked and tasted like.

So, if your tomato plants haven't been done in by Jack Frost yet and still have tomatoes on them, grab a spare colander as that blue norther is bearing down and pick them all. By doing so, you will enjoy some fruits of summer during the gray days of winter.

Update: Click here to read my follow up post.

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