Now Serving Scrumptious Green Tomato Blight Soup?

August 5, 2007

For those of you who were brave enough to return after being treated to a heaping helping of corn smut, today’s special is fresh Green Tomato Blight Soup… courtesy of Jo from the UK.

Well maybe “blight” isn’t at the top of your list of soup ingredients, but Jo raised an interesting question regarding using produce that may be tainted with disease or isn’t in the best condition; and whether or not such produce is suitable for human consumption:

Waste Not, Want Not!

“Hi Kenny, good to receive your gardening newsletter. Thanks for the useful information about watering which I will save for another year! This year there is so much rain and moist conditions in the UK.”

Green Tomato Blight Soup“I have had to pick all the green tomatoes which had started to be affected by the awful blight. All is not lost, I have found a lovely recipe for green tomato soup so I have cut off the brown bits and put the rest into the soup – tastes OK!”

“Do you know whether tomatoes affected by blight should all be discarded, or can we use the green bits? It is my age group, Kenny, I don’t throw away if I can use!! Best wishes from England.”

Enjoying the Best a Garden has to Offer

I really don’t know from a scientific or medical perspective whether there is any risk in using tomatoes or other produce that has been hit with blight, vegetable disease, or even ordinary every day spoilage and decay.

I share your feelings about not wasting food, but part of the reason that I grow an organic vegetable garden is so that I can enjoy the freshest and highest quality food possible. One of the perks of gardening is being able to harvest and eat produce at its vine ripened peak of nutritional value and flavor.

In your case it was the blight prevented that, but some make it a common practice to fuss over salvaging things like blossom end rotted tomatoes, peaches covered with brown rot, and apples that are bruised, battered, and spoiling in order to try and wring out every last bit of edible substance.

When Good Produce Goes Bad

A perfect example is a friend of mine who has a beautiful farm with large gardens and all the fresh produce that she could ever eat. She also had a strong aversion to waste, talks about living through the days of the Depression, and would spend hours sorting and paring her way through mountains of suspect fruits and vegetables.

One day it hit her that all the time and effort that went into saving and using the borderline quality produce meant that she would never get around to enjoying the freshest, highest quality, fruits and vegetables because by that time they would also be well past their prime.

All this is to say that I really don’t know the answer to the question as far as health considerations are concerned, but practically speaking, there are times when composting may be more resourceful than salvaging. In Jo’s case it sounds like that green tomato soup turned out pretty good and hasn’t caused a bit of harm.

Veggie Prep and Usage: Fact or Fiction

If anyone has a take on this topic I’d be very interested in other opinions and perspectives on this one… Is there anything that without a doubt should be avoided when it comes to less than perfect fruits and vegetables?

I’ve heard that you shouldn’t use Irish potatoes that were cut while digging or if even the slightest bit of green has developed on any part of the spud because it indicates the presence of solanine.

And how spoiled is too spoiled for the safe use of fruits and vegetables in general? When it comes to rotting produce do you just cut off the spoiled portion, or do you worry that the deterioration extends throughout?

I’ve also been schooled that while garlic cloves are often contaminated by viruses, the infected bulbs are fine to eat; they just shouldn’t be used as seed stock.

So am I dealing with facts or fiction, and what other do’s or don’ts are out there regarding whether damaged or diseased fruits and vegetables are safe to eat?

And, oh yeah before I forget… where’s that green tomato soup recipe Jo?

Other Related Vegetable Gardening Posts:

  • I try to salvage what’s usable in the garden. My peaches were hit by Japanese Beetles pretty badly, but not so bad that they were inedible, merely cosmetically unpleasant. My solution was to cut the bad parts away, skin them and cook the remaining good fruit into a puree with some sugar and lemon juice. I then ran the puree through a fine sieve and chilled it. After chilling I put the puree into my ice cream maker and treated myself to some excellent peach sorbet.

  • Jonathan

    Green tomato soup? Hmm, sounds interesting. I’m an administrator over at the “The Tasty Tomato” blog and we’re currently holding a contest for home gardeners who want to send us pictures of their ugly tomatoes. We also occasionally post growing tips and recipes. Check us out at:

  • Kenny Point

    Steven, I don’t worry much over blemishes or cosmetic imperfections on my fruits and veggies either.

    Jonathan, my ugliest tomato was one that I didn’t bother taking a photo of… it was a huge green heirloom tomato just beginning to ripen that was mangled and left half eaten lying on the ground by a visiting woodchuck.

  • Jo

    Well, green tomato soup is much the same as red tomato soup! Only difference is that the green ones don’t have the luscious taste, so I throw in a very good slug of red wine vinegar and a good handful of puy lentils together with some chopped ham and it tastes pretty good.
    Peach sorbet sounds fantastic.

  • My understanding is that parts of fruits and vegetables that are obviously bruised, rotten or moldy should not be eaten, because they can contain carcinogens. Also for potatoes you should never eat sprouts or green parts of the potato, because they can be poisonous. Otherwise, as long as you can completely cut away the bad parts, pretty much anything goes!

    Light insect damage is not normally a problem, nor are blighted fruits and tubers if you can cut away any visibly infected parts. You certainly don’t want to eat any obviously rotten potatoes or tomatoes. The problem with late blight is that rotting usually starts pretty quickly and spreads fast. Early blight is less of a problem.

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  • Frank and Amanda Urban

    My wife and I planted one beef steak tomato plant that produced over a hundred and fifty-two tomatoes. We are very partial to fried green tomatoes and now were looking into other ways to use them for cooking. We’ve heard about green tomato relish and soup but do not know how to make them. If you send us a e-mail back, we will attach some very unusual looking tomatoes that have three or more that have grown together in one tomato.

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