Have you ever tried fried green tomatoes? If you haven't, you're in for a treat!
Since I grew up in Canada, I never tried this delectable appetizer until I moved to Georgia as an adult. I ate these for the first time at the Whistle Stop Cafe in Juliette, Georgia. I love dining at this charming cafe and eating their fried green tomatoes!
What is the history of fried green tomatoes?
Since this dish is popular in the South, you might have guessed a Southerner invented it, but legend has it that a northern farmer's wife did. She was picking her unripe tomatoes before an early frost came, and was wondering what she could do with all of them. The thought of breading them and frying them popped into her mind, and a terrific recipe was born.
What type of knife is best for slicing this vegetable?
Most chefs agree that a serrated knife is best, but if one isn't around, sharpen a chef's knife with a honing steel or honing stone. It won't actually sharpen your knife, but it will get it back into alignment, so it will seem sharper.
If that isn't an option, you can make a little snip with the sharp tip of your chef's knife in the skin of the tomato. This will give you a good starting point to make that perfect slice.
What are the steps involved in making this recipe?
- Slicing: cut in ¼ inch uniform slices, since it gives a good crust-to-tomato ratio.
- Sweating: sprinkling them with salt draws out excess moisture, and a little sugar balances the tartness.
- Dredging & Breading: coat each slice in flour, egg/buttermilk, then cornmeal.
- Frying: cook in a cast iron skillet in peanut oil.
- Draining & Salting: blot off excess oil with paper towel or brown paper, then sprinkle on salt for improved flavor.
What is dredging and breading?
These are both cooking techniques. Dredging occurs when a moist ingredient is pulled through a dry ingredient to coat it.
For this recipe, the green tomato slices will be coated evenly with flour as the first step in the breading process. Many home cooks use the terms dredging and breading interchangeably.
The breading process continues with a wet ingredient like a beaten egg or buttermilk, and then finishes with a dry ingredient like breadcrumbs or cornmeal. Breading is most commonly used with meats and vegetables before they are fried or baked. These techniques help to keep the moisture in the food during the cooking process.
How do you know when the oil is hot enough to fry the green tomato slices?
If you don't own a thermometer that can give a good reading in a tiny amount of oil, use these techniques.
- Wooden Spoon Test: stick the handle of a wooden spoon into the hot oil, if the oil starts to bubble around the handle it's ready.
- Drop of Batter: If the oil is just right, it will fry up the batter.
- White Rice: drop in a grain of rice, when it's 360 F, it will float to the top. If it isn't hot enough it will sink.
- Popcorn Kernel: popcorn will pop between 325 to 350 F.
- Cube of Bread: get a crispy crouton in 15 seconds when the oil is 350 F.
How else can I use green tomatoes?
Other ways you can use this vegetable is in: pickles, relishes, salsa verde, tomato pie, ketchup, and soup.
How to Make
Gather all your ingredients. Slice the green tomatoes. Spread them out on paper towel and sprinkle with salt and sugar. Allow them to sit for a few minutes so they can sweat. Get three pie plates and measure out the flour mixture, egg wash mixture, and the corn meal. Dip each tomato in the flour mixture and then the egg mixture.
Finish dipping the egg into the corn meal mixture and repeat with the rest of the tomatoes.
In a large cast iron skillet, heat up the peanut oil over medium high heat to a temperature of 360 F. You can test the oil to see if it's the right temperature by using a thermometer, rice, corn meal mixture or bread cubes.
Cook 5 slices at a time for 2 to 3 minutes each side. Carefully, flip over with a metal spatula or metal tongs. Once done, place on a paper towel lined wire rac to absorb any extra peanut oil. Sprinkle with salt while the slices are still warm.
While you're busy cooking up the rest, keep the finished ones warm in a low oven on a baking tray.
Now that you know how to make up a batch of tasty fried green tomatoes, I encourage you to. You'll be glad you did.
- You can reduce the sodium by 299 mg (13%) if you omit the salt from the flour mixture and don't sprinkle any salt on the fried tomatoes.
- Test the temperature of the oil by using the handle of a wooden spoon, or frying a bit of the cornmeal/buttermilk/flour batter, or using a bread cube. Read more about this in the blog post above.
- You can freeze slices of green tomatoes on baking sheets, then transfer to freezer bags to enjoy this recipe year round.
- Peanut oil was used in this recipe because of the flavor it provides and because it has the highest resistance to burning.
Are you craving some other Southern dishes? You'll love these ones.
The pleasure of a 5 star review for this recipe would be greatly appreciated.
Fried Green Tomatoes
- 4 medium green tomatoes, cut in ¼ inch slices
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup self-rising cornmeal
- 1 ½ cups peanut oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
Prepping the Tomatoes
- Line two large cookie sheets with a double layer of paper towel.
- Rinse and slice the tomatoes, then spread out the slices on the paper towels.
- Sprinkle the tomato slices with salt and sugar, and let them sit for a few minutes. This process is called sweating. The salt draws out some of the water so the breading won't be as mushy, and the sugar helps counteract the tartness.
Dredging and Breading the Tomatoes
- Get out three disposable pie plates. Fill the first one with flour mixed with salt and white pepper. Fill the second one with a beaten egg and buttermilk, and the last one with self-rising cornmeal.
- Dredge and bread the tomato slices one at a time. Coat the both sides and the sides of each slice in the flour, then the egg/buttermilk, and finally in the cornmeal, using a fork or your fingers to flip the slice. Be sure to shake off any extra flour or cornmeal.
- Place the breaded tomatoes back on the paper towel lined cookie sheets.
Frying the Tomatoes
- Preheat the oven to 200 F.
- In a 10-inch cast iron skillet, heat 1 to 1 ½ cups of peanut oil over medium-high heat until it's 360 F by using a thermometer that can go in hot liquid. Make sure the oil level is shallow, since you don't want to submerge the slices. If the oil is bubbling too much, or smoking, turn the temperature down.
- Using a metal flipper, carefully lower 5 tomato slices into the hot oil. You don't want to overcrowd the skillet, as it will lower the temperature of the oil.
- Cook the tomatoes for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until nicely browned. Flip the slices using metal tongs, being careful not to splatter oil.
- Once the tomatoes have nicely browned, use the metal tongs to move them to a wire rack lined with paper towels or brown paper to absorb the excess oil. While they are still warm, sprinkle salt on both sides of the tomato slices.
- Keep the batches of fried green tomatoes warm by placing them on an unlined cookie sheet in a 200 F oven.
- Serve the fried green tomatoes hot or warm. You can serve them plain, with a spicy dipping sauce, lemon wedges, or an sweet onion relish. Fried green tomatoes are also used in grilled sandwiches, and are part of the traditional Southern vegetable plate. They also taste great with a poached egg in a breakfast sandwich.
- Need to lower the sodium? Omit the salt from the flour mixture and don't sprinkle any salt on the fried tomatoes.
- Don't have a thermometer? You can test the temperature of the oil by using the handle of a wooden spoon, or frying a bit of the cornmeal/buttermilk/flour batter, or using a bread cube.
- Want to enjoy this year round? Freeze slices of green tomatoes on baking sheets, then transfer to freezer bags.
- Peanut oil has the highest resistance to burning and provides good flavor, so try to use it.