There are more methods for making fried green tomatoes than you can shake a cast-iron skillet at. But here are some rules of thumb!
The Frying Basics of Fried Green Tomatoes
Your tomatoes will hold up best if you cut them horizontally in ¼-inch thick slices. If you like, you can sprinkle a tiny pinch of sugar on each slice to chase away any lingering bitterness.
Before frying, simply dredge the slices in seasoned flour--or make a thicker breading: dip the slices lightly in flour, then in beaten egg, and then give the tomatoes a good coating of breadcrumbs, cornmeal, or cracker crumbs.
For real down-home flavor, fry them in bacon grease (or a mix of bacon grease and vegetable oil). But regardless of what kind of fat you use, make sure it's good and hot (375 degrees F/190 degrees C) for golden-brown and crispy results.
When Is a Green Tomato Ready?
Not all green tomatoes are alike. In fact, when those shiny emerald orbs first begin to appear on the vines, they're not yet edible. The best-tasting green tomatoes are those that have reached full maturity with just the faintest hint of a red blush about the flesh. They'll have a firm texture with a pleasantly acidic bite and just a hint of tomato flavor.
Once picked, mature green tomatoes can keep for weeks, slowly edging towards redness. If you do want to store them long-term, arrange them in a single layer in a cool (but not cold) place and check them frequently: one bad tomato can spoil the whole batch.
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The Perfect Shade of Green
At the beginning of tomato season in Italy, green and barely-pink tomatoes start showing up in salads. The firm texture of these tomatoes makes them great for grilling, too: perk up your grilled meats by sizzling up some tart green tomato slices, lightly brushed with olive oil, right alongside them. Green tomatoes also make a mighty tasty side dish when they're baked until soft and seasoned with a little butter, chopped herbs and salt. You can also try them in salsas, soups, and vegetable sautés.
You'll be amazed at the chameleon-like quality of green tomatoes in desserts. With a little creative seasoning, green tomato pie tastes just like apple pie, and green tomato cake is just a moist and delicious spice cake with a secret. Green tomatoes have also been known to show up in jars of homemade preserves. When you add some sugar, the flavor of green tomatoes becomes quite neutral, and when mixed with other fruit, they become a wonderful way for economical cooks to stretch out a batch of jam or mincemeat.
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