Return to the Harvest Forum | Post a Follow-Up

Green tomatoes after frost...

Posted by guthriegatorfarm 3-4 (My Page) on
Wed, Sep 30, 09 at 19:28

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

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Green tomatoes after frost...

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

RE: Green tomatoes after frost...

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.


RE: Green tomatoes after frost...

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.

RE: Green tomatoes after frost...

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?

RE: Green tomatoes after frost...

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?


RE: Green tomatoes after frost...

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

RE: Green tomatoes after frost...

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.

RE: Green tomatoes after frost...

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...

RE: Green tomatoes after frost...

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?

RE: Green tomatoes after frost...

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.

Don’t be tempted to can or preserve infected tomatoes,” says Ingham. “The 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,” 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

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Harvest Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here