4 Ways to Pickled Green Tomatoes

Pickled green tomatoes, four different ways

I am drowning in tomatoes. Crunchy, tart, green cherry tomatoes. Correction, I was. By the time you read this, I’m well on my way to Pagosa Springs, Colorado, via a 10-day-ish road trip through Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico.

But this road trip was the impetus for the mad harvest last week of my rogue tomato plants, which have been exploding with fruit all summer long. When you’re away for 10 days, things on the homefront can feel a little stressful. Who will water the garden, who will weed the beds, who will check for pests and trim off the dead stuff and pluck all the ripe veggies so they don’t waste away?

When I saw the hundreds of green tomatoes hanging off the vines, just days away from ripening, my other thought was — who will eat all of that?!

And so, just three days before I was set to leave, I spent a sweaty afternoon picking as many green cherry tomatoes off my plants as I could, hoping to preserve them so I wouldn’t come home to a mass of over-ripened, rotting fruit.

55 pounds of green cherry tomatoes

The final tally came to 55 pounds. When you’re talking about cherry tomatoes, 55 pounds is a lot of tomatoes. I nearly tweaked my back hauling the harvest from the garden up to the house. (I know, I know — cue the violins.)

55 pounds of green cherry tomatoes

Since I didn’t have time to get creative and whip up some relish or chutney, I decided to pickle all of them — I can always turn those preserved tomatoes into relish later on. And because I was canning up a storm (32 quarts in all), I pickled them four different ways so I wouldn’t get too sick of them come next summer.

Guess what everybody’s getting for Christmas this year?

Green cherry tomato

4 Ways to Pickled Green Tomatoes
Makes 1 quart


For every quart jar, you will need approximately 1 1/2 pounds of green cherry tomatoes.

For the Brine
1 cup white distilled vinegar (5% acidity)
1 cup water
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Basic Pickling Spice
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice

Dilly Garlicky Pickling Spice
2 teaspoons dill seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
4 cloves garlic, peeled

Hot ‘n Spicy Pickling Spice
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns *
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Curried Pickling Spice **
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon whole allspice
3/4 inch fresh ginger root, sliced into thin coins


Wash, dry, and slice cherry tomatoes in half.

Wash and dry your green tomatoes

Slice that mountain of green tomatoes

In a saucepan, bring all the brine ingredients to a gentle boil.

Fill a hot, clean quart jar with the pickling spice mix of your choice. Funnel in the tomato halves and pack the jar tightly.

Add pickling spices to jars

Funnel in tomatoes and pack jars tightly

Pack jars tightly

Pour the hot brine over the tomatoes, covering them completely and leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Stick a chopstick into the jar and move it around to release any trapped air bubbles (a process called “bubbling”).

Bubble the jars with a chopstick to release trapped air bubbles

Wipe the rim clean, seal with a lid and band, and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes (adjust time for altitude as needed).

Store the jar in a cool, dark place. The green tomatoes will be perfectly pickled in about three weeks. Add to sandwiches, hot dogs, burgers, steaks, potatoes, or anywhere you would normally use relish. For a unique kick, you can even top off a Bloody Mary or dirty martini with a pickled green tomato garnish!

* Szechuan peppercorns can be found at well-stocked Chinese or Vietnamese supermarkets in the spice aisle.

** When making curried and pickled green tomatoes, bring the brine ingredients, curry powder, and brown sugar to a boil. Stir until the spices dissolve completely. Fill a hot, clean quart jar with cumin seeds, whole allspice, and ginger coins; pack jar with tomatoes; then pour the hot brine mixture over the tomatoes.

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August 29 2011      173 comments     Linda Ly
En La Cocina   Verduras

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  • cathy

    Did you slice them to fit more per jar or is it a necessity? If I leave them whole, do I need to pierce them?

    • I sliced them so I could fit more tomatoes in the jar. But no, it isn’t necessary. They will absorb the brine just fine!

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  • Teri

    These look just like some of the ones a friend of ours use to can and they are SOOOO good. I have looked everywhere for a recipe like it. You could just eat them right out of the jar, yum! I was wondering. Do they have sort of a tart taste? I hope so cause that would be perfect. He also added a couple cloves of garlic. I am going to try them today.

    • It depends on how tart your green tomatoes are to begin with, but usually they just pick up whatever flavor you’re pickling them in.

  • Joy

    There are different types of curry. What type do you recommend?

    • I use an all-purpose curry powder that’s not too sweet (and leaning a little toward the hotter side). The dominant spices in mine are turmeric, cumin, coriander, ginger, and pepper. I’d say, go for a high-quality curry that you like, as the tomatoes will just pick up that flavor.

  • Harold Cochran


    Just tried the garlic recipe. I had a a crazy amount of patio tomatoes. The taste was awesome. I used garlic from a jar. Smell was overpowering, had to place in zip lock bag. I also experimented with the szechuan peppers recipe, not hot at all. Any suggestion on a spice that is hotter? Add jalapeño?

    • If you want something really fiery, try adding whole chilies or double the red pepper flakes.

  • Looks like you’ve got all the right ingredients for a green tomato salsa there!

  • Z Monkey

    Nice site, I was looking for a green Tomato picking recipe and found this.  Hot and Spicy sounds right for me.  I’ll give it a try…

    • Hot ‘n spicy is my favorite one!

  • Renee

    When I search for green tomato at the site, I don’t find this recipe. When I search for green tomato asian recipes I find it. Quirky search engines eh?

    • Renee

       Should have said, the second search was by google, not on this site.

    • Bizarre? I just searched for “green tomatoes” on my blog and the post showed up on the second page of results.

      • Renee

        IDK but I had to go to google and search there instead to find the post. Love your photos btw. Very nice blog. 🙂

  • Whatayear2009

    Will processing them in the boiling water cause the tomatoes to become mushy?

    • The tomatoes do become soft, but not mushy. I’ve canned them using both the boiling water bath and refrigerator pickle methods, and I prefer the softness that the boiling water bath brings.

      If you need to can them in a boiling water bath, you can try adding calcium chloride (Pickle Crisp) to maintain the crispness; or you can simply put the jar in your fridge without processing it. I’ve had an unprocessed jar in my fridge for three months and it’s still good!

  • Suegeiger53

    I found these recipes to late, I live in ND and we really had an early frost this year, so had to pick all green ones. I really am going to love to make the dill garlic ones, all other recipes I found always call for sugar, which some family members don’t care for. Thanks so much, storing this one on Pinterest till next summer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Oakley Dogger

    Wow!  I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog.  Beautiful photos and great info!  I just started a balcony garden.  I received a packet of tomato seeds.  I really have to try this.  Any advice on starting these tomato seeds? 

    • Unless you live somewhere super warm, I wouldn’t recommend starting tomato seeds until spring. Even in my zone (10b) they grow very slowly over winter because of cooler weather and decreased daylight. Try some fall-friendly plants for your balcony, like greens or peas!

  • bcannon

    Would these work as “refrigerator pickles” if I dont want to can them? 

    • Yes! Just let the flavors develop over a few days in the fridge before you eat them.

  • paula

    after putting jars in bath fifteen minutes the lids did not pop?

  • At higher altitudes, water boils at a lower temperature so you have to compensate for that by increasing the canning time.

    In general, add 1 minute more per 1,000 feet for recipes that call for less than 20 minutes of processing; add 2 minutes more per 1,000 feet for recipes that call for over 20 minutes of processing.

    So… if you were to can these pickled green tomatoes, which call for 15 minutes at sea level (where I live), you would actually need to process them for at least 21 minutes (I personally would round up to 25 minutes to be assured of a safe seal).

  • Charity

    Ooooh, I’m so exited to make these with my glut of tomatoes this year. I’m planning to make bloody mary mix and roasted tomato salsa with the red ones, but anything that is green….bring it! 

    • If you make bloody mary mix with the red tomatoes, pickle the green ones to use as a garnish for your bloody marys! It’s sooo tasty.

  • Kasia Lucia

    Can you explain adjusting the water bath time for altitude? I am new to canning. I live at 6,035 feet above sea level.

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  • Honestly

    I came here for pickling recipes, but seeing that picture of you with the surfboard, I’d like to take a bite out of your ass.

  • Georgia1009

    This sounds great; can you add tomatillos to them also?

    • I don’t see why not! Sounds delicious!

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  • Jjvking2u

    could I use canning salt instead?

  • Jjvking2u

    I could’nt find any actual cherry tomato seeds but found small tomato variety, should be ok to use if i slice them? & thanks for sharing recipes that were’nt really spicey;)

    • You can use any tomatoes that are still green and unripe. Just slice them up or cut them into small wedges to fit in your jar.

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  • Callie

    Made a quart each of your garlic dill and curried picked cherry tomatoes – can’t wait to try them.  Hope you enjoyed your road trip!

    • I just had the garlic dill pickles the other night as a side to some grilled steak… so tasty. Beats store-bought pickles for sure.

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