A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from October 24, 2007
Fried Green Tomatoes (Green Tomatoes Fried)

The dish of “fried green tomatoes” (also called “green tomatoes fried” in the 19th century) is known through the South. The dish was popularized by Fannie Flagg’s 1991 novel (later made into a film), Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.

The dish of green tomatoes coated with cornmeal and deep-fried was first cited in print by at least 1877. Recipes became frequent in newspapers and cookbooks in the 1890s and 1900s.


Wikipedia: Fried green tomatoes (food)
Fried green tomatoes are a traditional side dish of the Southern United States, made from unripe (green) tomatoes coated with meal and deep fried.

Traditional Preparation
The tomatoes are usually cut into 1/4 inch slices, dipped in buttermilk and coated with cornmeal, breadcrumbs, or flour, then fried in hot oil or grease for about 3 minutes on each side until the bottoms are browned. Alternatively, one can dip the tomatoes into beaten eggs before coating with meal for a firmer finished product.

The traditional recipe consists of green tomatoes sliced thinly and coated in plain coarse cornmeal. The tomatoes are then pan fried in vegetable oil up to a depth slightly shallower than the thickness of the slices. This keeps the tomatoes from floating, allowing gravity to hold the cornmeal to the bottom side. Oil may be drizzled over the top to allow it to firm up also. The reason for all this is that cornmeal without a “wash” like eggs tends to fall off in the oil, however with a wash the meal becomes thick and not nearly as crunchy. Flip the tomatoes after a minute or so, depending on oil temperature. Cook to a golden brown and season with salt and pepper.

Alternatively, tomatoes can be fried in bacon fat.

Wikipedia: Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is a 1987 bestselling novel by Fannie Flagg. In 1991 the novel was adapted into the film Fried Green Tomatoes.

29 September 1877, Inter Ocean (Chicago, IL), pg. 12:
I am afraid our editor will think I am too lengthy in my letter, but before I close I must give a few recipes I have tried and found excellent. One is fried green tomatoes. Cut a thin slice from top and bottom, and throw them away; then cut the remainder in slices, roll in flour, sprinkle with pepper and salt, and fry brown in butter. These are delicious for breakfast.

8 October 1884, New Hampshire Sentinel, pg. 1:
Green tomatoes fried are preferred by some people to the egg-plant, and they may well take its place. Cut the outer slices off, and then cut the inner part in slices about half an inch thick, roll them in flour and fry in butter; sprinkle pepper and salt on them. This may be used as an entree or a garnish with meat of any kind.

22 June 1890, Macon (GA) Telegraph, pg. 8:
“I’ve got a new dish for you,” said a well-known blonde gentleman; “a fellow told me the other day that if I wanted to eat something good, take a large green tomato and slice it up as you would an egg-plant and fry it. That night I went into the garden and pulled some fine tomatoes, and told the cook to keep her mouth shut and have them served up for breakfast next morning. Then I told my wife that I had secured a few specimens of a new egg-plant from Florida, and that if they proved all right, we would save the seed and plant them next year. The next morning the cook brought in a dish filled with the fried tomatoes, fried in batter, and looking for all the world like egg plants. Well, sir, it was better than any egg-plant you ever eat, and from that time on fried green tomatoes form one of the principal dishes on our breakfast table. Slice the tomatoes, pour hot water on them for a second or so, pour it off, run in meal and then fry. It will surprise you.”

Google Books
King’s Daughters’ Cook Book
International Order of the King’s Daughters and Sons
Des Moines, Iowa: Sixth Presbyterian Church
1894
Pg. 68:
Green Tomatoes Fried. 

Google Books
The Daily News Cook Book,
Being a reprint of The Chicago Record Cook Book
edited by Mary Mott Chesbrough
Chicago, IL: Chicago Daily News Co.
1896
Pg. 500:
Fried Green Tomatoes—Cut six large, green tomatoes into slices about an eighth of an inch thick. Beat the yolk of an egg with a tablespoonful of cold water. Sprinkle over the tomatoes some salt and pepper, dip them in egg and then in fine bread crumbs. Fry in butter, brown thoroughly on both sides, and serve with a gravy made as follows: Rub together one tablespoonful of flour with two tablespoonfuls of butter, and when well creamed, brown in the pan; add a half pint of boiling milk, stirring constantly until it begins to thicken; then add a saltspoonful of salt and pour over the tomatoes.

Live Search Books
The National Cook Book
by Marion Harland and Christine Terhune Herrick
New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons
1896
Pg. 528:
FRIED GREEN TOMATOES.
Cut green tomatoes into thick slices, sprinkle with salt and pepper, roll in egg and cracker crumbs and fry in deep cottolene, as you would egg-plant. Serve with bacon, broiled ham, or other meat, or as a vegetable.

20 October 1896, Kansas City (MO) Star, pg. 7:
Green Tomatoes Fried.
From the New York Sun.
Tomatoes are almost as useful when green as when ripe. Green tomatoes are an excellent vegetable fried. Cut them into slices half an inch thick, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, dip in egg, and roll in crumbs; then fry each side until brown.

24 October 1898, New Haven (CT) Evening Register, pg. 9:
Fried Green Tomatoes.—Cut green tomatoes into thick slices that will not break in cooking. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and dip each piece into beaten egg and then in cracker crumbs. Fry in fat until a deep rich brown color.

6 October 1899, Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer, pg. 11:
FRIED GREEN TOMATOES
Wipe green tomatoes with a damp cloth, cut them into slices, half an inch thick, dip in beaten egg and cracker-crumbs, set in the ice-chest for half an hour and then fry in deep fat to a delicate brown. Drain from grease and serve on a hot platter.

Live Search Books
365 Luncheon Dishes
Philadelphia, PA: George W. Jacobs & Co.
1902
Pg. 80:
Fried Green Tomatoes.
Slice green tomatoes in thin slices, roll in flour. Heat and butter the griddle, fry the slices on it and when cooked sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve with fish.

Google Books
How to Cook Vegetables
by Olive Green
New York, NY: G. P. Putnma’s Sons
1909
Pg. 553:
FRIED GREEN TOMATOES
Slice green tomatoes and soak for ten minutes in cold salted water. Drain, sprinkle with sugar, dip in corn-meal, and fry in hot fat. Season to taste. 

Live Search Books
The Blue Grass Cook Book
compiled by Minnie C. Fox
New York, NY: Duffield & Company
1911
Pg. 149:
FRIED GREEN TOMATOES
Slice green tomatoes and lay them in salt water. Drain and sprinkle with sugar. Roll in corn meal and fry in hot lard. Salt and pepper to taste.

Feeding America
The International Jewish Cook Book
by Florence Kreisler Greenbaum
New York, NY: Bloch Pub. Co.
1919
Pg. 126:
FRIED TOMATOES
Cut large, sound tomatoes in halves and flour the insides thickly. Season with a little salt and pepper. Allow the butter to get very hot before putting in the tomatoes. When brown on one side, turn, and when done serve with hot cream or thicken some milk and pour over the tomatoes hot.

FRIED GREEN TOMATOES
Cut into thin slices large green tomatoes, sprinkle with salt and dip into cornmeal, fry slowly in a little butter till well browned; keep the frying-pan covered while they are cooking, so they will be perfectly tender. These are very delicately flavored, and much easier to fry than ripe tomatoes. They make an excellent breakfast dish.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Wednesday, October 24, 2007 • Permalink