Sunday, September 23, 2007

Green Tomato

I was able to pluck a handful of fully ripe tomatoes earlier this summer. But most of my crop looks like like this: big, beautiful, and green. Today is the fall equinox; there is no hope of them turning red.

What to do with a bumper crop of green tomatoes? A friend recommended I fry them up and write a book about it. Very funny. Instead, I searched the internet for green tomato pie recipes. I expected recipes to be savory pies, but the ones I found are all sweet. The base recipe I used was Emeril Lagasse's Old Fashioned Sweet Green Tomato Pie with Sweet Pie Crust (no, I didn't say BAM!). It calls for cinnamon and white pepper for the spices, and I added fresh grated ginger. Since this was my first double-crusted pie, I diligently followed the instructions for the pastry. But the crust wasn't forming as it should, so I used Betty Crocker Cookbook's Buttermilk Pie Crust for the rest of the method.

I had to wait an hour for it to cool and give the real test--my husband, Eldon who hates pie, hates cooked fruit, and graduated top of his Baking and Pastry class from the Culinary Institute of America.

"Do you want to try a little pie?"
"Pie?! I hate pie, but I'll try one bite."
"Not bad for cooked fruit and pie."
He had a couple more bites which doesn't happen ever. Then he launched into discussing the quality of the crust, asking if the water I used was cold enough. Eldon concluded it was good for my first pie.

I took half the pie to some friends to see how they liked it. They too thought it would be savory, but were pleasantly surprised by tart and sweet taste.

I should have tasted a green tomato before making my pie, but an unripe-orange-not-yet-red tomato is such a disappointment. A completely green one must be worse, right? My curiosity got the better of me. I went out to the garden and took a bite out a 'Pantano Romanesco.' The consistency is similar to apple,* but with typical tomato seeds, and they are tart like a 'Pippin' apple. Of course they're the perfect candidate for a pie with lots of sugar, butter, spices and a little lemon juice.

I still have several pounds of green tomatoes gracing my garden. Time to try some more recipes. Middle Eastern countries use green tomatoes for saute and pickling. I may even try frying a few one of these autumnal evenings.

*Tomatoes were labeled as an aphrodisiac and called "love apples" or "pomme d'amour" by the French as part of a marketing campaign. This helped the tomato gain popularity throughout Europe. Some types are heart shaped which is more apparent when they're cut in half.

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