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Can You Eat Green Tomatoes? Are Green Tomatoes Unripe?

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There are quite a lot of vegetables that are safe to be eaten while unripe, but it is the case for green tomatoes as well. Do green tomatoes mean unripe tomatoes? We will discuss in this article how you can eat green tomatoes and what you can do with them if you don’t want to eat them as is.

I asked myself the same question when I first visited my grandparents and saw that they were growing tomatoes. It was the first time I saw green tomatoes except for the pickled ones, which are very common in our country.

I was young then and didn’t care if it was safe to eat them green, but now I decided to do a bit of research in order to tell you accurately if it’s safe to eat them unripe.

green tomatoes

Can you eat green tomatoes?

Yes, you can eat unripe green tomatoes but in small quantities. However, the taste will be sour and acidic, and the texture will be too firm and hard to chew through.

Tomatoes are part of the Solanaceae family which contains solanine which is a toxin that can harm your health if consumed in large quantities.

If you are sensitive to this toxin, it will be better to avoid eating raw tomatoes, especially while they are green. Part of this family are eggplants, potatoes, peppers, and many other vegetables.

The solanine is in larger quantity, while the tomato is not ripe yet. This is a defense system for the plant itself, which can make sense if you think about it. The plant wants to protect itself more while growing than when it gets to maturity.

So while it can be safe to eat green tomatoes in small quantities, it is not worth the risk, and also, you will not have a pleasant experience while eating them.

Being part of the Solanaceae family, like eggplants, they have a toxic stem that is not safe to be eaten, so make sure you throw it away every time.

Read Also: Can You Eat Green Oranges?

Are green tomatoes unripe?

Not all green tomatoes are unripe, there are ripe green tomatoes that are fully ripe, especially heirloom variety, but ripe green tomatoes are not so common.

Most probably, when you see green tomatoes, they are unripe. Tomatoes that are fully ripe and still green will have a lighter green color with stripes or mixed with other colors, while the unripe tomatoes will have a clean dark green color all over the fruit.

You can also check to see if the fruit to see if it’s ripe by pressing it with your thumb. It should feel soft and give a bit when pressed with the thumb, while the unripe ones will be too firm for a ripe tomato.

Tomatoes actually come in many different colors, not only red or green, you can check my article about tomato colors here.

green tomatoes

How to ripen tomatoes?

If somehow you ended up with some green tomatoes, the good news is that they continue to ripen after they have been picked from the vine.

They continue to ripe because they produce ethylene, which is a gas that helps fruits to ripe faster, there are a few ways to speed up the process:

-Place the tomatoes in a paper bag and let them at room temperature, the paper bag will make sure that the ethylene gas will stay close to the tomatoes for longer.

-Place the tomatoes close to other fruits that emit ethylene as well; the best ones are bananas, avocados, pears, and apples.

What to do with green tomatoes?

When it comes to unripe green tomatoes, not the ones that are green when fully ripe, the best use of them is in pickled tomatoes. Since the pickled tomato, it is not supposed to have the sweet, rich taste of a fully ripe tomato and the texture will be better after they are pickled.

While the fully ripe green tomatoes can find their place in a lot of recipes that you can find by a simple search for green tomatoes recipes but I will give you here just a few ideas:

-Fried green tomatoes. I know it may sound weird for the first time, but while you can do fried zucchini and taste amazing, fried green tomatoes are no different.

-Grilled green tomatoes. Usually, they have a firmer texture than the red ones, which can be an advantage when you grill them because they will not become a mess which can be a real problem with ripe green tomatoes.

-Green tomato ketchup. I know we are used to the ketchup being red, but the green ketchup can also be a thing. You can check here a recipe for it.

How to choose a good tomato?

When it comes to unripe green tomatoes, there are not many things you can check before eating them because they are not ripe yet, so you don’t have any real indicators of how good it is. Preferably it is not to eat them when they are not fully ripe.

When it comes to fully ripe green tomatoes, you have to make sure you choose the best ones from the market if you want to enjoy them.

I will give you a few things you can check before buying a green tomato.

-Color. Fully ripe green tomatoes will have a pale green color turning yellow. Check the tomato for brown or darker spots, which can be a sign that the tomato is going bad.

-Texture. Fully ripe green tomatoes should be a bit softer than unripe green ones but make sure that they are not too soft and mushy. Also, make sure that the texture is consistent all over the tomato without any softer spots, which can signify that they weren’t stored or transported properly.

-Smell. A ripe tomato should have a stronger smell than one that is unripe.

 Read Also: When Is Passion Fruit Ripe? 


The conclusion is that unripe green tomatoes are not safe to eat in large quantities, and even in small quantities are not worth it because you will not get a good taste and texture out of them. So why bother?

When it comes to green, fully ripe tomatoes, you can find a lot of good uses for them, but they are not so common as red tomatoes, which can substitute them in almost all the recipes.

So make sure if you want to try green tomatoes, you check them to be actual ripe green tomatoes, not red tomatoes that are not ripe yet.

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