The Not-So-Southern History of the Fried Green Tomato

Let’s face it: if you’ve been to, or wined and dined in the South, you’ve probably seen a peculiar item on each and every menu: the fried green tomato. At first appearance, you probably thought, ‘Well of course; they fry everything in the south, so why not produce?’ We’d love to bicker with you on that one, but you’re absolutely right.

We thrive on the ability to fry just about anything, even vegetables. But first, let’s combat the myth of fruit versus vegetable for the world of tomatoes. Tomatoes, contrary to popular belief, are actually fruit. Why, you might ask? To put it simply, it’s because tomatoes have seeds, which generally point to them residing within the fruit category.

My first attempt at these! #friedgreentomatoes

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Regardless your take on the whole fruit or vegetable debacle, there’s no denying that tomatoes are here to stay, fried or not. But back to the main topic, here. Who could have possibly invented the idea behind frying a tomato, and serving it in mass quantities across the country?

Though it may seem like a solely Southern thing, the origins of the fried green tomato aren’t derived from the South. That’s right, they just may have derived from a land far, far away: the Northeast.

According to Robert F. Moss, a food historian from South Carolina, “They entered the American culinary scene in the Northeast and Midwest, perhaps with a link to Jewish immigrants, and from there, moved onto the menu of the home-economics school of cooking teachers who flourished in the United States in the early-to-mid 20th century.”

Like any good trend, it makes sense that this one has spread it’s way far and wide across the country, and even the pond. To say that a green tomato, or an unripe tomato, is lesser than that of full ripeness is a disgrace around these parts.

Sure, your great Aunt Sal may condemn you for picking out the green tomatoes from the vine in her backyard, but once you craft up this delectable dish for her, she’ll soon understand the hype behind it all.

How to Make Fried Green Tomatoes

fried-green-tomatoes-recipe
Tori Avey

A combination of cornmeal, green tomato slices, and spices like black pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper form the base of the classic fried green tomato. Comfort food at its best form, fried tomatoes use a fairly basic batter that can begin with all-purpose flour or cornmeal.

Slice your tomatoes into about 1/2-inch slices, depending on how thick you’d like. Simply set up your two shallow bowls: one for the egg mixture and one for the cornmeal mixture, and get to dippin’!

If you’re interested in trying you hand at your own, this fried green tomatoes recipe offers a simple introduction and easy step-by-step instructions just for your convenience. Just remember to, like all Southern food, season tomatoes well.

Building that flavor of the perfect fried green tomato starts with the fresh slice, salted to perfection. Some cooks even fry them up in bacon grease over medium heat, while others use the traditional vegetable oil or peanut oil because both have higher smoke points.

Say you’ve never had a Southern fried green tomato before . . . here’s the perfect time to invite some friends over for a taste test! We’ll bring the bottle of wine.

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