Fried Green Tomatoes

A green tomatoAt this time of year we usually have about a dozen unripe tomatoes in their cages in the backyard.  Their days outdoors are numbered: this week saw the season’s first frost warning.  I could pick the green orbs and let them sit on the kitchen counter.  They do ripen, eventually, but this isn’t a very dignified existence for a tomato.  Instead, they can be sliced, breaded, and fried.

Green tomatoes are firm, slightly mealy, and tart.  Actually the flesh of the green tomato tastes like cardboard; it’s the jelly that holds the seeds that has all the sour, vegetal flavour.  Frying tenderizes them, and breading tempers their acidity.  Once they’re cooked the tomato looses its ghost-green colour and takes the same shade as a dill pickle.

This is a classic dish.  Unripened tomatoes are part of our heritage.  My mom grew up in northern Ontario, and they would plant tomatoes every year, fully expecting to use them green!  Her aunt would chop them and use them in piccalilli (post forthcoming).

So.  Slice the tomaotes to your preferred thickness.  Season with coarse salt and pepper.  Then dredge the rounds, first in flour, then beaten egg, and finally bread crumbs.  In the southern states apparently they use cornmeal instead of breadmeal.  Shallow fry in a straight-sided pan.  They’re fine on their own, but benefit from the addition of homemade mayonnaise.

A bowl of fried green tomatoes

Biting into a fried green tomato