Green tomato pickles are an easy way to use up all of your unripe tomatoes at the end of the season. They have so many uses too.
As the end of the growing season approaches and the threat of frost is imminent, it’s a good idea to pick all of the rest of the tomatoes in your garden. Yes, even the green ones.
You can use green tomatoes in lots of ways other than Southern fried green tomatoes (although they are yummy with the right sauce too).
We end up with so many green tomatoes that we really have to get creative. These green tomato pickles are one of those recipes.
New to canning? Start with our comprehensive article on “How to Can Everything“. It will walk you through all of the dos and don’ts related to canning.
What you need
- green (unripe) tomatoes
- fresh garlic cloves (optional)
- fresh onion slices (optional)
- bay leaves
- kosher salt, sea salt or pickling salt
- vinegar (apple cider vinegar or white vinegar. You can use white wine vinegar, champagne and the like but they are so much more expensive.)
- mustard seed
- dill seed
- sugar – just use regular white granulated sugar
How to quick can green tomatoes
Quick canning is the easiest method to preserve tomatoes. There is no processing the jars and the color of the tomatoes is much more appealing.
Wash the tomatoes well in a colander to remove all of the dirt.
Add vinegar and water to a large pot.
Then add salt and sugar.
Cut cherry tomatoes in half or just leave the tiny ones whole.
Slice larger tomatoes crosswise or cut into wedges.
We make separate jars with the cherry tomatoes and whole tomatoes.
Crush garlic with the side of your chef’s knife. Slice onion thin.
Add onion, garlic and spices to jars.
Load fruit into jar. Leave a ½ inch headspace.
Making shelf stable pickles
If you would like to store your pickles in the pantry, they will need to processed in a water bath canning pot.
Proceed with instructions above. Set up your canning pot and get the water boiling before starting the pickles. The water in your canning pot can take 45 minutes to come to a boil.
Process your jars of pickles for 15 minutes for under 1000 feet. Adjust for altitude. (See notes in recipe for adjustments for times). Remove the pot from the heat, let the jars sit in the canning pot for 5 more minutes. Then remove the jars with your jar lifter to the counter. Leave undisturbed for to 12-24 hours.
Test lids for seal. Press down in the center of the lid. If the lid flexes up or down, the jar hasn’t sealed and should be stored in the refrigerator and consumed first.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, indeed. Green tomatoes are not only safe to eat, they are surprisingly delicious when you pickle them.
Green tomatoes taste like a tart, tangy red tomato. They are firm and stay crispy when pickled, unlike ripe tomatoes, if they are quick canned (refrigerator pickles).
Any red variety of tomato will work for picking. Don’t use the heirloom green tomatoes, like Green Zebras, Cherokee green or Evergreen tomatoes unless they are unripe at the end of the season.
They need to be hard and unripe. Cherry tomatoes and slicing tomatoes will both work fine.
We like to serve green tomato pickles on our charcuterie boards and grazing platters. Use them to spruce up your macaroni or potato salads.
Serve them as you would cucumber pickles with burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches and wraps. Top tacos, crostini or Spanish rice for a fresh tang. We actually love them to accompany of fried perch, fried smelt and fried bullhead recipes. Even our smoked catfish. They are the perfect side.
We find that the pickles that we process in the water bath canning pot are not as crunchy as we would like. We normally quick pickle these tomatoes.
Always store the quick pickled tomatoes in the refrigerator for extra crisp.
Don’t harvest the green tomatoes once you have had a frost. The frost will make them mushy.
Use firm, freshly picked green tomatoes. If you don’t have time to pickle them, store them in the refrigerator for a day or two.
If these tips don’t produce the crispy pickle that you desire, use pickle crisp, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Pro- Tip: When canning, choose a reputable source for your recipe. The National Center for Home Food Preservation is one and the other is the USDA Complete Guide to Canning.
All of the recipes on this site are based on one or both of these trusted sources. We just do a more thorough job showing you how to do it, step by step.
- canning pot
- Canning tool set
- pint jars
- canning lids
- canning bands
- extra large bamboo cutting board
- chef’s knife
More pickle recipes
Green Tomato Pickles are an easy way to preserve the plethora of green tomatoes that you have at the end of the growing season.
If you have any questions or comments, please ask in the comment section below. We’d love to hear from you!
I hope you enjoyed the recipe today!
Enjoy. And have fun cooking!
Green Tomato Pickles
- In a sauce pan, add salt, sugar, vinegar, and water. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat.½ cup Sugar, 3½ cups cider vinegar, 3½ cups water, 1/4 cup Salt
- Wash tomatoes well to remove all debris.3 pounds green tomatoes
- Halve cherry tomatoes or leave small ones whole. Slice or halve larger tomatoes.
- Although you can raw pack these tomatoes, if you blanch them first, they will not float as badly. Blanch for about 4 minutes, until tomatoes turn a pasty olive yellow.
- Sterilize jars.
- Add garlic clove, onion slices and spices to each jar.1 clove garlic, 1 small onion, sliced, 1 teaspoon dill seed, ½ teaspoon mustard seed, 1 teaspoon peppercorns, 1 leaf bay leaves
- Pack tomatoes into hot jars, within a 1/2 inch of top of jar.
- Pour hot canning liquid into jar leaving ½" headspace. (If you're quick pickling, there is no need to worry about the headspace.
For Shelf Stable Pickles
- Remove bubbles with a chopstick or bubble tool.
- Wipe rim of jar with wet towel. Attach hot lids and tighten bands finger tight. Return to canning pot.
- Process jars for 15 minutes per pint, adjusting for altitude. Allow to rest in hot water 5 minutes after turning heat off.
- Remove jars from canning pot and let sit on counter overnight.
- Check seal in the morning, if lids flex up and down, when pressed in center, jar is not properly sealed. Store any that didn't seal in refrigerator.
Originally published November 29, 2022.
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