The last of your garden’s tomatoes

What can you do with those green tomatoes? Can them!

It looks like our extended summer days are coming to an end, and so is our extended growing season. So far, we have been fortunate to not have a hard frost. Home canners need to remember the National Center for Home Food Preservation tells us that we cannot preserve tomatoes from dead or frost-killed vines.

If your garden still has tomatoes on the vines that have not ripened, you may be wondering what you can do with them. There are actually a lot of options, from ripening them indoors for eating or canning, to pickling, relish or salsa.

If you choose to ripen the remaining tomatoes indoors, make sure you pick them before the frost comes. Look over your plants and pick any tomatoes that appear to be partially ripe or light green. Fruit that is dark green will not ripen indoors, it hasn’t matured enough. Check for disease or dead stems, ensure the plants are still healthy, to ensure a safe product for preserving. The University of Wisconsin Extension suggests sorting picked tomatoes by groups that will ripen at similar times. Fruit may be ripening at differently, and sorting them can help in how you plan to use it for eating or preserving.

Tomatoes being ripened should be stored at temperatures between 55 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit in well-ventilated areas out of sunlight. Green tomatoes should ripen in about two weeks, while more mature fruit will ripen in a few days to a week in ideal conditions.

If you choose to use these indoor ripened tomatoes for home food preservation projects, keep in mind they may not be as flavorful as the tomatoes you enjoyed all summer. The USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning tells us they can still be used safely for home canning.

If you choose to use mature green tomatoes for home canned food items, consider using them in these tasty recipes:

Pickled sweet green tomatoes
Spiced green tomatoes
Rummage relish

You may safely use green tomatoes for tomatillos in an approved salsa recipe, and you may also safely substitute green tomatoes or tomatillos for ripe tomatoes in any approved salsa recipe.

Michigan State University Extension encourages you to make the best use of everything left in your garden, safely. Enjoy the delicious products you or someone else has grown. Make sure you know if the plant has been impacted by frost other diseases. Also be sure to inspect indoor ripened tomatoes and ensure they are blemish-free. Small spots can lead to decay, which can result in potential problems with home canned produce. Enjoy the tastes of summer using safe food preservation methods.

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