Fried Green Tomatoes–The Tasty Upside to the Coming Cold

For many years I did a weekly cooking show at a farmers market in an African American community that served not only the neighbors but also the many immigrant communities that call Milwaukee home.  I developed and demonstrated recipes each week that focused on seasonal produce.  I employed the spices and cooking techniques of various cuisines to demonstrate the range of the food and gave out samples to the customers.  The shows were popular and enjoyed a small but loyal fan-following.  Besides free samples, the shoppers seemed genuinely excited and curious to taste foods from around the world.

That all changed the day I did a show demonstrating how to make fried green tomatoes.   My one-time fans—the ones with Southern roots who considered themselves soul food aficionados, teased me endlessly about my choice of ingredients, cooking techniques and general credibility as a Southern food cooking instructor.Green Tomatoes--Fried

I reminded them that #1: the Indians, Koreans and all the other ethnic groups whose cuisines I borrowed from week-to-week seemed genuinely pleased that I had embraced the food of their native land, and they complimented me on my recipes. What happened to their Southern manners?  #2:  My connections were every bit as strong as theirs. Due to my father, I grew up watching Hee-Haw and listening to WMAQ.  His childhood was spent in Appalachia, and when his family moved to central Illinois, the school held him back a year because the teacher couldn’t understand his thick accent.

Authenticity as a Southerner aside, in the end, they relented. You can’t argue with a tasty fried green tomato.  This recipe has a coating which is crisp and savory not thick and eggy.  In addition to flavor, it keeps oil use and mess to a minimum because the tomatoes are pan not deep fried.Green Tomatoes, Fried--ingredients

Fried Green Tomatoes
Recipe type: Vegetable
Cuisine: Southern
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 6 servings
Leftovers make sandwiches--crisp lettuce, spicy remoulade and stacked fried green tomatoes on a lightly toasted bun.
  • 6 medium green tomatoes, cored and sliced into ½ inch slices
  • ⅓ cup all purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup fine ground cornmeal
  • 1 tsp regular salt
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ cup yogurt or cultured *buttermilk
  • ½ cup oil
  • lemon for garnish
  • 2 Tbsp good mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp chili sauce
  1. Prepare the tomatoes.
  2. Mix the flour, cornmeal and spices in a large bowl.
  3. Pour yogurt or buttermilk into a separate bowl.
  4. Dip each tomato slice in the buttermilk or yogurt to coat. Next, dredge the slice in the cornmeal mixture coating both sides well.
  5. Once all the tomatoes are coated, heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat and add oil.
  6. When the oil becomes hot, pan fry the tomatoes in batches. Fry until golden brown—about 1½ - 2 minutes on each side. Drain on a wire rack or paper towels.
  7. Make the remoulade dipping sauce by combining the mayo and chili sauce.
  8. Serve fried tomato slices with lemon wedges and remoulade.
*Make buttermilk by adding 1 t lemon juice to ½ cup milk. Stir and wait a few minutes for the milk to curdle and thicken.

Cooking & Eating with Kids: Fried green tomatoes are a treat of early fall when the green ones must be harvested before the frost comes and turns them to mush.   I serve them as part of meal I like to call “Southern Sides” –cheesy grits and  Southern-inspired vegetable side dishes.  No meat.  It’s a kid favorite.  Leftover fried green tomatoes also make great sandwiches.

I have my kids harvest the tomatoes, measure and mix the coating and then do all of the breading.  My kids are particularly fond of making cultured “buttermilk.”

Preserve It:  Enjoy them now as there is absolutely no way to preserve the green tomatoes for frying later.  I’ve tried with zero success.  If you have a way, please let me know because I miss them November to June and so will you once you have tried them.

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