(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on October 16, 2008. The author passed away in late 2010, so there will not be any responses to any questions or comments posted to the article.)

Mom knew what it meant to frugally feed a family of five. From watermelon rind made into Watermelon Rind Pickles to green tomatoes made into Vegetarian Green-Tomato Mincemeat, mom created interesting food items to bless her family. Not only were the foods delicious, but they became family traditions straight out of the garden. Over the years I have read a few store bought mincemeat labels so I will probably never desire regular mincemeat again. Typically, modern mincemeat includes suet (a fancy word for FAT) although in Early America, mincemeat pies actually contained bits of meat. [1]

I am surprised that mom never fried green tomatoes. It seems like we did not even think about frying them until we moved South. Strangely enough, mother fried summer and zucchini squash but not tomatoes. Since I absolutely and passionately detested the battered and fried squash, I am delighted that she made Vegetarian Mincemeat instead of Fried Green Tomatoes. Mom made the mincemeat as soon as the weather turned chilly. Sometimes she put the mincemeat directly into pie shells and froze the whole pie until Thanksgiving. Other times she froze portions of mincemeat in freezer containers, then made wonderful pies later.

Are green tomatoes hanging on your tomato plants but the warm weather is not hanging on long enough to ripen them? Do you have more than enough green tomatoes; is your family staring at the plate of fried green stuff? Do you just feel adventurous and ready to be creative in the kitchen? Do you like the fruity spiced sugar flavor of mincemeat? Then, please enjoy the following recipe.

Vegetarian Green-Tomato Mincemeat

3 pounds green tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/4 cup of salt
3 cups of seedless raisins (about 1 large package)
1/4 cup boiling real apple cider vinegar, if desired
2 large apples, chopped and cored but not peeled
1 large orange, chopped and cored but not peeled
1 cup of sugar
1 pint of DARK corn syrup
2 Tablespoons pumpkin pie spice

Spread sliced tomatoes in a non-metal container; sprinkle with salt. Let stand overnight. Rinse, drain and rinse quickly again. If desired, soak the raisins in 1/4 cup of boiling hot cider vinegar for 15 minutes to plump. Chop the tomatoes into small bits. (Use a food processor, it is easier and quicker). In a large non-aluminum kettle, place all of the ingredients, including tomatoes. Cover the pan and let simmer for 40 minutes. Uncover the pan. Allow the mincemeat to boil gently for 1 hour 15 minutes. During this time, stir the ingredients occasionally. Do not burn or the recipe will be ruined.

Simply substitute the Vegetarian Mincemeat in any recipe calling for regular mincemeat. Here is an easy pie crust recipe from my mother-in-law:

Mildred's Pie Crust

2 2/3 cup flour
pinch of salt
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup milk

Stir well. Roll between 2 sheets of wax paper. Cut to fit pie pan. Makes 1 crust. Pre-cook if needed for recipe.

Mom also made wonderful Green Tomato Mincemeat Brownie Bars from the vegetarian mincemeat above. However, she recently misplaced the recipe. When she finds it, I'll add it as a thread to the comment section. It seemed like mom froze tons of these Brownie bars in the fall so we enjoyed wonderful snacks all winter and spring.

On a side note, thinly sliced green tomatoes could be substituted for the eggplant in Eggplant Parmesan. I have not tried this, but have heard it tastes great. I think this will be the year for me to make Green Tomato Parmesan. Mom just mentioned that she picked most of the green tomatoes and she has a mincemeat pie waiting in the freezer for Thanksgiving. Traditions are wonderful.

Green Tomato Copyright April Campbell 2008I hope you will enjoy these recipes. May your garden overflow with green tomatoes, after you have enjoyed your fair share of deliciously ripe red and yellow tomatoes, of course. If you have an abundance of green tomatoes, be sure to check out the other recipes featured in Dave's Garden articles. Here is a link to one of those articles:

Turn green tomatoes into "raspberry" jam that's fun for kids to make and eat by Jill M. Nicolaus (critterologist)

NOTE: A READER HAS COMMENTED THAT GREEN TOMATOES SHOULD NEVER BE EATEN. SEE THREAD BELOW. EAT AT YOUR OWN RISK (AS WITH ANYTHING!).

[1] Wikipedia