Green tomatoes after frost...

guthriegatorfarmSeptember 30, 2009

So we just had our first killing frost up here in Northern MN, and we weren't able to get out to the garden until after dark the night before to pick all of the tomatoes we could - and of course I now still have hundreds of green tomatoes all over my garden hanging on dead vines.

I was out pulling up plants and noticed that while some are clear, mushy and totally wrecked - most are still apple green, hard and seem just fine. I know they won't ripen, but can I still use them in green tomato recipes? I generally make a lot of chutney, minced meat filling, jelly, etc - can I use these ones that are still outside? And if so, do I need to eat it fresh or is it still able to be canned? If not in a regular canner, how about a pressure canner?

If you could answer any of these questions or give me any advice, I'd really appreciate it. I always have tons at this time of year - I'm just usually able to get them in before the vines are dead, so I've never had to wonder before.

Thanks ~Angela

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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

You should freeze the foods, not can at this point. That is the safe recommendation. Never can tomatoes from dead or frostbitten plants.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 7:35PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Agree - many time the damage done to them by the frost isn't immediately visible so the safety recommendation is to make your recipes with them but then freeze it rather than can.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 8:40PM
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I don't mean to sound stupid, but how can you tell if a plant is dead? No more blossoms?

I have a few ratty looking plants that i planned to take the green ones off of but now you have me double thinking myself.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2009 at 11:40AM
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I have a couple of tomato plants that seem to have been frostbitten at the very ends of the vines, not the whole plant, and not all the ends. The recorded temp did drop down to 33, all of my other tomato plants look fine. Would the tomatoes from the plants with frostbitten tips be unsafe for canning?

    Bookmark   October 3, 2009 at 2:42AM
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Can someone explain why the tomatoes are no longer viable for canning? Enzymatic changes? Just curious....

Also, I see the recommendation for making pickles when the 'maters are totally green, not starting to change. I am not actually positive I know what that looks like and would appreciate some clarification. I do know what a breaker looks like and I assume that as long as they are not breakers, I am okay to pickle. Correct?

And just out of further curiosity, what happens if you pickle breakers?


    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 3:41PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Here's a previous discussion regarding the use of green tomatoes from frost-damaged vines.

Here is a link that might be useful: Green Tomatoes AFTER Frost

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 5:52PM
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Most of the green tomatoes will ripen if they are not severely frost damaged. You'll know quickly, if the tomatoes aren't going to make it.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 12:03PM
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My concern is with canning safety. The Wisconsin link is broken in the old thread, but I am assuming I have found the correct info. I am just going to make the pickles. I don't think I am using breakers, but who cares. What better way to die than from eating green tomato pickles?

I thought perhaps the above would get me a definitive answer... size=1>

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 1:57PM
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What's a breaker? I just sliced up a bunch of green tomatoes I picked last night - one was starting to ripen so I put that in compost bucket. Is that a breaker?

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 3:34PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

The Wisconsin page is still available through Extension. They just moved the page. I believe their information is trustworthy.

I knew the link was broken but figured those interested would locate it anyway. Updated link is provided at the bottom.

Wisconsin offers some of the best documents on pickling and is a reliable source.

In an interview with Agri-View Barbara Ingham further said the following:

What if you have unblemished tomatoes growing on plants with leaves, stems or adjacent fruit showing signs of infection? These can be safely eaten, and even preserved, Ingham states.

âÂÂDonâÂÂt be tempted to can or preserve infected tomatoes,â says Ingham. âÂÂThe virus can cause changes in the acidity of tomato fruit which is critical in safely preserving tomatoes. However, unblemished tomatoes can safely be canned, or even frozen,â she says.

The entire text of the article, including further information from Dr. Luke LaBorde at Pennsylvania State and Dr. Margaret McGrath, a plant pathologist at Cornell University, can be found at this link:

Are Tomatoes and Potatoes Infected with Late Blight Safe for Eating or Preserving?.

It really is a judgment call at whatever level you're comfortable with. I would not be concerned about a pickled green tomato recipe, especially one with a high proportion of vinegar in the brine. However, I don't can any tomatoes from blighted plants, even green ones, not because I'm concerned for the safety but because even an apparently unblemished tomato may have undesireable changes in flavor and texture. I consider canning these a waste of time, energy and supplies.

For me the only use for blighted tomatoes is fuel for the burn pile (plant) and more for the compost (fruit) with lots of urea for heat to destroy bacteria.


Here is a link that might be useful: Wisconsin Excerpt Tomatoes Tart and Tasty

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 4:29PM
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