When Life Gives You Green Cherry Tomatoes, Fry (Or Pickle) Them

Tomato girls live for the brief period of time in summer when tomatoes are at their richest and ripest, as Campari tomatoes and Roma tomatoes turn bright red and feel heavy with juicy and flavorful flesh. Cherry tomatoes in particular are a beloved favorite, and snapping them off the vine and popping them right into your mouth is an irresistible warm weather pastime for tomato lovers of all stripes. But you don't have to wait for cherry tomatoes to turn red to make good use of them, as green cherry tomatoes are ideal for a variety of cooking methods, from frying to pickling.

Generally, when speaking of green tomatoes, you're referring to unripe tomatoes that will turn red (or other colors) when they mature. There are a few select heirloom tomato varieties that are bright green when fully ripe, but you're unlikely to come across these, and they don't have the same firmness that gives (unripe) green tomatoes their textural versatility. Most commercial tomatoes regardless of shape or size will have the kind of texture that makes green tomatoes great for frying or pickling — whether they are beefsteak, plum, or cherry tomatoes.

Frying green tomatoes

In the American South, summer is fried green tomato season. These unripe fruits are a classic snack, as their firm texture holds up well when sliced and breaded, then fried in a cast iron skillet. But though larger varieties of tomatoes are common, green cherry tomatoes make for bite-sized snacks you can pop in your mouth by the handful. The beauty of using cherry tomatoes is you can fry them whole or simply cut in half as they're naturally bite sized.

Some combination of cornmeal, flour, and breadcrumbs is the usual breading for fried tomatoes — though slight deviations like rye flour and cornmeal fried green tomatoes are bound to be a winner. Egg and buttermilk are common bindings, and some usual seasonings include Cajun and Creole seasoning mixes. They can be fried in oil on a skillet or made in an air fryer, and are best eaten when they're still hot. Because of their size, fried green cherry tomatoes are best eaten on their own, but you can mix them into a fried chicken sandwich, or use them in place of a red tomato in a BLT.

Pickling green tomatoes

Pickling is one of the absolute best ways to use up green cherry tomatoes. They absorb brine really well when halved, but retain their crunch, making for a sour, salty snack with the same satisfying bite as a crisp cucumber pickle. You can use any kind of brine you would use for a basic refrigerator pickling recipe on your green cherry tomatoes. As both cucumbers and green tomatoes are mild in flavor on their own, you can pickle them both in the same jar without risk of flavor or color contamination. The same can't be said for veggies that color bleed in jars, like radishes or red onions. The addition of a halved jalapeno to your jar will add a nice kick if you like your pickles spicy. Once you pickle your green cherry tomatoes, you can eat them as is, or toss them in a salad or sandwich for a tangy addition.

Similarly, you can also use green tomatoes to make salsa by chopping them up with onions, jalapenos, and bell peppers, and then cooking them down into a liquidy base with lime juice and vinegar to help preserve them. Simply jar your mixture, and enjoy it with chips, or on a burrito or quesadilla. Or add them to a roasted tomatillo salsa recipe for a nice, tomato-y kick.