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Sacramento is renowned for its abundant harvest of some of the most juicy, flavorful and delicious varieties of tomatoes of all kinds that you’ve ever tasted. But sometimes when the local tomato farmers and chefs see the lovely under ripe green tomatoes hanging from the vine, they can’t help but to make like a Southerner and pick them for frying up in a pan.

Green tomatoes, of course, are a staple of Southern cooking, with a long history of use in rural areas, where people were resourceful and made use of whatever they could. Frying all vegetables, usually in pork fat, also helped make use of the whole animal. The fact that frying staples like green tomatoes in pork fat makes them super-delicious is just an added bonus! Nowadays you can find fried green tomatoes on just about any menu of a restaurant in the South, and on many menus around town right here in “Sacratomato” as well, especially during tomato season.

You can pretty much use any variety of tomato for fried green tomatoes, as long as they are just under ripe so that they are very firm and tight and green – it’s no good using any that are too yellow or with any wrinkled or saggy skin. There are a few different ways to prepare the tomatoes, but you want to slice them fairly thin and use enough oil, or that pork fat for flavor, so that the coating doesn’t get pulled off of the tomatoes. Use breadcrumbs, cracker crumbs, cornmeal, or flour to coat the tomatoes and give crunch and flavor. Dipping the tomatoes in beaten eggs before dredging is optional, but definitely be sure to salt and pepper them first.

Green Tomatoes from Watanabe Farms in West Sacramento
Green Tomatoes from Watanabe Farms in West Sacramento

There are many ways to enjoy fried green tomatoes. Of course, you can savor them on their own – crisp, golden, and right off the skillet (be sure to let them cool first!) – with a bit of hot sauce and aioli, mixed with corn or zucchini, baked with rice, or on salads and sandwiches. You can even enjoy green tomatoes – fresh rather than fried – on any recipe that calls for regular ripened tomatoes.

At The Kitchen we like to pair one classic with another and fry up our locally grown green tomatoes for layering onto an amazing BLT. The tangy, tart, and fatty elements of the tomato go perfectly with peppered smoky bacon, crisp lettuce, a generous serving of mayonnaise and lightly toasted bread. Bon appetite!