I have about 12-14 healthy tomato plants that I have uprooted and chopped up to till back in for their nutrients, but I'm wondering if I can do anything with the 20+ green (unripe) tomatoes that happen to fall off as the cages were removed.

6 Answers 6


If the tomatoes have any red on them, you can set them out on the counter or a windowsill and they may still ripen. If they are all green, your best bet is to use them for fried green tomatoes or green tomato relish.

Since you've already tilled the tomato plants in to your garden, you could also compost them if you aren't interested in eating them. Some people choose not to compost tomatoes or tomato plants because there are several pathogens that affect the plants which can live for years in the soil. Since you've already composted the plants, it wouldn't hurt to add the fruit.

  • 1
    It's not just relish, but anything similar with a reasonably long cooking time and a robust flavour. I've got a few unripe tomatoes that (as usual) I'm going to throw into a chutney. It will otherwise be onion, apple and home-smoked chillies, so the tomatoes won't add much other than bulk. They would also go in a pasta sauce.
    – Chris H
    Commented Oct 8, 2014 at 14:44
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    My green tomatoes ripen and turn red even if there's no red on them to start with. If they're not fully grown, they may not turn red, however. I suggest just putting them in a bowl on top of your refrigerator, storage room or something (not in the refrigerator) and waiting until they turn red. They don't seem to ripen in the refrigerator as far as I've seen, yet. Commented Oct 8, 2014 at 17:24

Food, Not Waste

That's food you've got, not waste. Eat them before they get frostbite.

Green Tomato Pie


Surprisingly, when cooked as a pie they do not go mushy and cook down like tomato sauce. Instead, they cook like apples, softened but retain their shape. Indeed, the recipes are basically the same as Apple Pie. Tip: Add some sliced apple along with the tomato in your pie, perhaps 50/50.

Fried Green Tomato

An old-fashioned Southern dish in the United States. As seen in the famous novel by Fannie Flagg, Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Café, and the movie, Fried Green Tomatoes.

  • Although it's probably still okay to eat them (at least once in a while, although if you're pregnant I probably wouldn't recommend it), you should note that the chemical thought to be toxic in tomato leaves is also said to be present in green tomatoes (perhaps in the same amounts). Not everyone thinks it's so bad, though. I imagine different varieties of tomatoes probably have different amounts of the chemical, but that's just my suspicion. However, if you want to be safe, you can let them ripen off the vine before eating them. Commented Oct 8, 2014 at 17:40
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    @user2962794 Thanks for that caution. Wikipedia has a brief discussion of toxicity with links for further info. Commented Oct 8, 2014 at 18:47

Unripe tomatoes can be turned into delicious pickles.

You can also make ketchup out of them.

I've tried both (not necessarily the linked recipes, just generic home-made green tomato pickles and ketchup), they are excellent.

  • +1 for pickling. Other recipes are probably an acquired taste, but pickled green tomatoes substitute pickled cucumbers or cornichon any day.
    – mustaccio
    Commented Oct 9, 2014 at 1:16

I usually bring green / yellow tomatoes indoors, and store them at room temperature, or even better a little below room temperature. They will normally turn into good red tomatoes after a few weeks. If the tomatoes are a little yellow, this should work. If they are very green, they may not turn red.


It is too late now, but for next year, pull up the plants, roots and all, and hang them upside down in your garage. Most of the tomatoes will ripen.


Green tomatoes will generally (not always) ripen after you pick them, if you wait (whether or not there is any red on them). Sometimes it'll take a day. Sometimes it'll take much longer. Immature tomatoes may just dry or shrivel up, however. Whatever the case, I would recommend taking all of those tomatoes and putting them in storage (not in the refrigerator) until they turn red. Room temperature is fine (I think it'll ripen faster at room temperature than in a cool storage room, although I could be wrong).

This works well with my early girl and lemon boy tomatoes, as well as whatever else we have.

In fact, I hear most store-bought tomatoes were picked green (so as to extend their shelf life or something) and allowed to ripen off the vine.

You may have heard the term, 'vine-ripened tomatoes'. There are also tomatoes that were not ripened on the vine (picked green).

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