How to Pickle Green Tomatoes

Chop your green tomatoes and combine them with hot peppers to create a relish. See more heirloom tomato pictures.
Chop your green tomatoes and combine them with hot peppers to create a relish. See more heirloom tomato pictures.
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If you're lucky enough to have your own garden, then you're familiar with the plentiful summer bounty of vegetables and herbs. Sometimes it feels like the garden will never stop producing -- endless bushels of zucchini, tomatoes, basil, cucumbers and peppers.

You eat, you make summer salads, you leave zucchini on your neighbor's porch, and you even do some canning for winter. As fall approaches, the garden's production slows. And once a frost comes, the remaining veggies will be ruined. So you gather up all you can before it gets too cold. But what to do with those pesky green tomatoes that simply refuse to ripen? Are they worthless?


Of course not. You have several choices for your green tomatoes: ripen them, eat them or pickle them. To ripen them, cut them off the vine and store them in a dark, cool box. They'll ripen over the next month or two. If you're looking to eat them, you just need a good recipe -- fried green tomatoes, anyone?

Your last choice is pickling, which will make them last indefinitely. Pickling is relatively easy, and you can use all sorts of recipes and spices to experiment with various flavors. Pickled tomatoes are great to eat with a salad or sandwich, or simply straight from the jar.

Read on to find out how to pickle green tomatoes, as well as some tips for ways to serve them.


Tips for Pickling Green Tomatoes

First, let's discuss the process of pickling. When we pickle a food, we soak it in a solution that prevents it from spoiling. One method of pickling involves vinegar; bacteria can't really survive in that type of acid. Another involves salt brine; the brine encourages good bacteria to grow, which makes the food less apt to spoil.

You can pickle your green tomatoes using the sterile, high-temperature method of canning, or you can pickle them with a simpler refrigeration method. We'll briefly discuss each method here:


The canning method:

  • Slice up your tomatoes and some onions and place them in a bowl.
  • Sprinkle liberally with salt, stir, cover the bowl and leave for four to six hours. (The salt removes excess liquid, which will make your tomatoes crunchier.)
  • Place the mixture in cheesecloth and gently squeeze to remove extra juice.
  • Throw out salty water.
  • In a pot, mix up the tomatoes and onions with sugar, vinegar, celery and mustard seeds, coriander, pepper, and stir.
  • Simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes.
  • Place the tomatoes and liquid in sterilized jars, cover with lids and then place the jar in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes (this seals the jars and makes them safe for storage).
  • After they cool down, store in a cool, dark place.

The refrigeration method:

  • Use clean jars. A dishwasher can sterilize them, or you can boil the empty jars.
  • Add garlic, dill seeds and peppercorns to the jar.
  • Slice up your clean green tomatoes.
  • Fill up the jar to about a half-inch from the top.
  • In a pot, combine distilled vinegar, water and salt, and bring to a boil.
  • Stir until salt is dissolved.
  • Pour the brine over the tomatoes to one-fourth of an inch from the top.
  • Wipe off the jar top and tightly screw on the lid.
  • Age for at least two days in the fridge.

There you have it! Keep reading for ways to use your new batches of pickled green tomatoes.


How to Use Pickled Green Tomatoes

All pickled green tomatoes are not equal. There are various flavors, recipes and types of pickled green tomatoes. Try them all!

You don't just have to make sliced up pickled tomatoes. How about chopping them up into really tiny pieces and making a relish instead? You can use ingredients like apple cider vinegar, sugar, celery seed, bell peppers and onions to flavor the relish. If you like it spicy, add hot peppers.


For a more traditional pickle taste, add dill. Hate the taste of dill? Make bread-and-butter tomatoes, instead. They're much sweeter and many people prefer them on sandwiches.

Here's just a sampling of the many ingredients you can combine with your pickled green tomatoes:

  • Vinegar (plain and apple cider)
  • Brown sugar
  • White sugar
  • Cloves
  • Allspice
  • Celery
  • Coriander
  • Dill
  • Garlic
  • Pre-made pickling salt
  • Mustard seed
  • Sour cherries
  • Chili peppers
  • Curry

And how do you serve your pickled green tomatoes? As a relish, they can top burgers and dogs. Thinly sliced, they can layer a sandwich. Or, cut them into quarters and serve them as an appetizer or snack. Some people swear by the combo of pickled green tomatoes and a pastrami sandwich. We've also heard pickled green tomatoes make a great garnish for a martini!

For more about tomatoes and other yummy foods, check out the links on the next page. And happy pickling!


Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • Gitundu, Peter. "Green Tomato Pickles." Home Grown Tomatoes. Sept. 19, 2009. (Nov. 14, 2010)
  • Goldwyn, Meathead. "No Fuss Kosher Dill Pickled Green Tomatoes." The Huffington Post. Oct. 8, 2010. (Nov. 14, 2010)
  • "Pickled Green Tomatoes -- What do you eat them with?" March 11, 2008. (Nov. 14, 2010)
  • Vanderlinden, Colleen. "How to Ripen Green Tomatoes." Aug. 18, 2009. (Nov. 14, 2010)
  • "What is Pickling?" 2010. (Nov. 14, 2010)