While fried green tomatoes are usually considered a southern dish they can be found in northern homes as well. The northern version is more likely to be made with white flour rather than corn flour or corn meal. Also, green tomatoes tend to be prepared at the end of the season in the north when the remaining fruit is harvested before the first frosts, whereas green tomatoes are picked throughout the season in the south.
They certainly pre-date the movie Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, released in the early 1990’s.
“Lovers of tomatoes are very fond of them, sliced green as apples are sliced, and fried in butter. Some persons are fond of them sliced and fried after being dipped in butter. The green tomatoes, which the season will not permit to ripen, may be turned to good account by using them fried.” – The New England Farmer. Oct. 14, 1836.
Traditional preparation of fried green tomatoes begins by cutting the tomatoes into approximately 1/4-inch (~1 cm) slices. They are then seasoned with salt and pepper, coated with plain, coarse cornmeal, and shallow fried in bacon fat for a few minutes each side, or until golden brown.
Shallow frying is preferred, as the tomatoes do not float in the oil, which allows the weight of the tomato to press the cornmeal to the underside of the tomato. Alternatives include using breadcrumbs or flour instead of cornmeal, and frying in vegetable oil or other fat.
A ‘wash’ may be used; in this case, the sliced tomatoes are first dipped in a liquid before the cornmeal is added. This liquid is usually buttermilk, or occasionally beaten egg. Using beaten egg results in a slightly firmer texture than using buttermilk. ‘Washes’ are used because cornmeal does not readily stick to raw green tomatoes.
Adding the liquid helps the cornmeal stay in place during the cooking process. This also results in the coating on the tomato becoming thicker and less crunchy when compared with tomatoes cooked without a ‘wash’.
These fried green tomatoes were made with the first big, juicey green gems on the vine at the beginning of the season, because I just couldn’t wait any longer for them to redden. You can eat these at any time throughout the growing season, and if you live in colder climates it is a way to use up unripe fruit before the first frosts kill them off.
Served with a tasty, tangy basil mayo, these are amazing appetizers, party bites, or a vegetarian main or side dish. They are best served hot and fresh, as the coating loses its crunch over time.
Basil Mayonnaise Ingredients:
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp brown mustard
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 cup packed basil leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
Step 1: Rinse the fresh basil well and drain. In a blender, combine the basil, mayo, garlic, mustard, and lemon juice.
Step 2: Blend well until combined. Place in a shallow dish to dip, can refrigerate up to 3 days ahead of time.
Fried Green Tomatoes Ingredients:
- 3 medium unripe, green tomatoes
- 1 cup flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 2 cups vegetable oil
Step 1: Rinse the tomatoes well to make sure there is no residue or dirt on them. Slice into 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick slices.
Step 2: Beat the two eggs lightly. Place the flour, scrambled egg, and cornmeal/breadcrumb mixture onto three separate shallow plates. Put the oil in a frying pan, and heat to medium (just below when it would start simmering).
Step 3: Dip the green tomato slices one at a time into the flour and flip to coat both sides.
Step 4: Dip the floured slice into the egg mixture & slush it around to fully coat.
Step 5: After the eggs, dip into the cornmeal & breadcrumb mixture, and flip to fully coat.
Step 6: Place the tomato slices into the hot oil, make sure they aren’t touching. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until the breading becomes brown and crispy. Flip and fry the other side another 5-7 minutes.
Step 7: Place on a cooling rack or paper towels to drain the oil. Serve hot with the basil mayonnaise on the side.
Hope this helps you enjoy more of summer’s bounty!