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Bake some lemon bread with green tomatoes

Chopped green tomatoes and lemons pair nicely in this quick bread. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)
Recipe: Those greenies make a nice substitute for zucchini

Green tomatoes are a tomato grower's challenge. If you don't like them fried, what else do you do with those greenies that will never, ever ripen? Beyond just tossing them in the compost, that is.

I've made green tomato chutney, which is lovely but a time commitment. Last year, I tried
roasted green tomato sauce . Good, but not top of my list. This year's inspiration came from Christine S., a fellow member of the Sacramento Gardening Group on Facebook. She commented under another member's late-tomato harvest post that green tomatoes could be used in a lemon-zucchini bread as a substitute for the shredded zucchini. What a cool idea! So I had to try it.

I used a mix of really green tomatoes; this dozen produced a generous cup of
chopped tomato.
I modified this a bit and would do a few other things next time I bake it. For one, I cut the recipe in half, since it made two loaves, and no one with a refrigerator full of Thanksgiving leftovers needs two loaves, unless you plan to give both away. If you double the recipe as written below, use 3 eggs, not 4, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice.

Also, I didn't put the glaze on top, since we don't like very sweet baked goods in our house. In fact, I would increase the amount of lemon zest in the bread, or maybe use some lime zest along with the lemon -- the lemon flavor was there but not pronounced. (Eureka lemons are tarter than Meyer, of course -- save the mellow Meyers for another recipe.) This bread recipe also would easily take to mix-ins: dried cranberries or some candied ginger bits are my first two ideas. It also would make excellent muffins, I think.

One other note: I chopped my green tomatoes in my food processor, since they were hard, and would be difficult to shred. A good sharp knife also would work.

Lemon and green-tomato bread
Makes 1 loaf
Adapted from a Two Peas & Their Pod recipe


1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup granulated cane sugar
Zest from 1 large lemon (add more if you really like lemon)
The chopped tomatoes are the last ingredient into the bowl.
2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola or other light vegetable oil (not extra-virgin olive oil)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup green tomatoes, cored and finely chopped

Optional lemon glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


Grease and flour an 8-by-4-inch bread pan. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.

Mix together the sugar and the lemon zest, by hand or with a flexible spatula, in a small bowl until the sugar is fragrant.

The bread baked beautifully at the low temperature.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar mixture, then the oil, lemon juice and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients until combined. The batter will be pretty thick. Fold in the chopped tomatoes, then pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool on a rack 15 minutes before removing it from the pan. (Run a knife around the edges first.) While bread is cooling, make the glaze, if using, and drizzle it over the bread. Or, sprinkle powdered sugar over the loaf. Slice and serve.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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