The Green Tomato Guide: A Southern Specialty

Living color garden center-Fort Lauderdale-Understanding the Classic Green Tomato-green tomato on vine

Just like the movie ‘Fried Green Tomatoes,’ green tomatoes have a special place in our hearts. Find out the difference between unripe tomatoes and real green tomatoes and some delicious ways to cook with them.

What’s The Difference: Unripe Green Tomatoes vs. Green Tomatoes 

There’s not much that’s more Southern than a good green tomato dish. Northerners might see a green tomato and automatically think it indicates a lack of ripeness. But here in Florida, we know that’s not the case. 

Living color garden center-Fort Lauderdale-Understanding the Classic Green Tomato-aunt ruby green tomato

The difference between an unripe green tomato and a real green tomato is that unripe green tomatoes are pale and green all over, firm, and more acidic or tart in taste. On the other hand, real green tomatoes are heirloom varieties bred to stay green at full maturity. When ripe, they’re still green but feel soft and juicy when squeezed.

How Do You Grow Green Tomatoes? 

1. Start your seeds. Use a spoon to fill a seed starting tray with potting mix or soil, using your finger to make a quarter-inch deep hole in each section. (Starting your green tomato plant indoors helps you better monitor it in the early stages). Seeds can also be planted directly in the ground if you prefer. Drop some seeds into each section of your starting tray and cover them with seed starting mix.

2. Let’s grow! Set your tray on a sunny windowsill, rotate them daily, and water enough to ensure the soil stays moist and hydrated. 

Living color garden center-Fort Lauderdale-Understanding the Classic Green Tomato-green tomato seedling in soil

3. Transplant seedlings. Before transplanting your tomato seedlings into the garden, you’ll want to ensure they are acclimated to the outdoors. With our gorgeous Southern Florida warm weather, this shouldn’t be too difficult, but you’ll still want to pay close attention to this step. Let them spend a little time outdoors each day for a week before you plant them outdoors.

4. Plant. The hole you dig in the garden bed should be about two inches bigger than the seedling’s base. Before planting your young plants, gently loosen their roots to encourage healthy root development. Make sure to choose a location that allows your green tomato plant to receive at least six to eight hours of sun daily.

5. Take care of your plant. Water, mulch, and fertilizer will be your best friends in helping your green tomato plant thrive. All tomatoes need consistently moist soil to stay healthy, so watch closely to ensure your plant gets enough water. Look out for common tomato problems like blossom end rot, cutworms, and hornworms. 

6. Harvest! When it’s time to harvest your delicious green tomatoes, about 70-90 days after planting, you’ll need to brainstorm some delicious recipes to cook up! Don’t worry; you’ll find a few tasty ideas further below. 

Green Tomato Recipe Ideas 

Now that you know how to grow the perfect green tomato, let’s get into the exciting part: what to cook with your green tomato plant! Obviously, fried green tomatoes are the first thing that comes to mind. Luckily for us, there are many other exciting recipes you can make with these unique tomato crops as well!

Here are some yummy ideas to try out with your green tomato plant:

  • Green Tomato Bruschetta with Shrimp, Bacon, and Cheese. Herbs from your garden, like lemon thyme, would taste amazing with this green tomato recipe!  
  • Sweet Green Tomato Pie. Thought there was nothing more American than apple pie? Try substituting green tomatoes for apples. Try it before you knock it!
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  • Green Tomato Relish. Red tomatoes may make ketchup, but green tomatoes make relish! Green tomatoes taste delicious when pickled, and this relish adds a mouthwatering tang to grilled burgers and hotdogs. 
  • Fried Green Tomato Eggs Benedict. If you’re a fried green tomato lover through and through, this upgraded version of eggs benedict might change your life—just slip a fried green tomato between the English muffin and poached egg. For a kick, try adding a tablespoon of pureed fresh jalapeno to your hollandaise sauce.
  • Green Tomato Pasta Sauce. Let’s get saucy with it! Making pasta sauce out of your green tomatoes is a great way to use up any extra fruit on the vine. 

Visit us at Living Color Garden Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to start growing green tomatoes today!

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