There is a limit to the number of fried green tomatoes we can eat and the number of jars of green tomato relish we can fill, so when faced with a basket of green tomatoes, we decided to do a little culinary improvisation.
As any home gardener knows, green tomatoes are firm, unripened tomatoes, picked in the fall before the first frost. New Englanders, known for their frugality, will do anything to avoid waste. Before tossing green tomatoes onto the compost, they will try to figure out a way to make them ripen. One of their suggestions, which we tried, was hanging the vines upside-down in the cellar. It sounded reasonable enough until we realized that tomatoes, ripe or not, eventually soften and fall off the vine, which is exactly what happened to us. Next we tried wrapping the tomatoes individually in newspaper and putting them in the refrigerator to ripen. Before we knew it, the refrigerator was so filled with tomatoes, which incidentally never ripened, there was no room for anything else.We were left where we started, with a basket of green tomatoes.
One of our best green tomato recipes is a kuchen-like version of a plum tart. It’s filled with green tomato wedges and is a cross between a dessert cake and a coffee cake. As is customary with kuchens, we call it a breakfast cake. Of course, if anyone offered us a cup of coffee and a piece of green tomato cake any time of day or night, we wouldn’t hesitate to take it.
—By Jean Kressy, a food writer in Ashburnham, Mass.