Author’s Note: I wrote this post back in 2011 and since then, these pickled green tomatoes have been one of my most popular recipes on Garden Betty, amassing over a million pageviews and hundreds of comments. I figured it was finally time to update it with new pictures from my garden in Central Oregon, as well as a printable recipe card (a feature that’s been a long time coming on this site).
I’ve also changed the way I do the boiling water bath process, which I detail below in the instructions.
The original story behind the recipes brings back good memories of my old garden in Southern California, so I’m leaving the rest of it the same.
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.
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.)
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?
4 Ways to Pickled Green Tomatoes
Makes 1 quart
1 pound green slicing tomatoes (or 1 1/2 pounds green cherry tomatoes)
For the Brine
1 cup white distilled vinegar (5% acidity)
1 cup water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Basic Pickling Spice Mix
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 Mix
2 teaspoons dill seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
4 garlic cloves, peeled
Hot ‘n Spicy Pickling Spice Mix
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 Mix **
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon whole allspice
3/4 inch fresh ginger, sliced into thin coins
Cut larger (slicing) tomatoes into 1/2-inch wedges, and cut smaller (cherry or grape) tomatoes in half.
In a small saucepan, bring all of the brine ingredients to a boil and stir until the salt is dissolved. Remove the brine from heat.
Fill a hot, clean quart jar with the pickling spice mix of your choice. Pack the jar tightly with the tomatoes.
Pour the hot brine over the tomatoes, covering them completely and leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
Stick a chopstick or “bubbling” tool into the jar and move it around to release any trapped air bubbles.
Wipe the rim clean, seal with a lid and band, and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes (adjusting the time for altitude as needed).
Update: Due to limited space on my stovetop, I now use this electric water bath canner and I wish I’d found it sooner!
Canning often takes up all the space in my kitchen so no one else can cook while I’m in there. The electric canner makes it possible for me to move the water bath process to the end of a kitchen counter, dining table, patio, or anywhere I have access to a plug. In the summer, I like to set up my canning station outside so I can also enjoy some fresh air while keeping the house cooler.
There’s a drain spout on the side so you don’t have to lift a huge, heavy pot to pour it out, but this spout is also great for dispensing drinks. If you need to make a large batch of a hot beverage (spiced apple cider, for instance), you can heat it up in the canner and use it as a convenient, mess-free serving station (no more ladles going in and out of a slow cooker). Such a plus in my party book!
Store the jar in a cool, dark place. The green tomatoes will be perfectly pickled in about two 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, brown sugar, and curry powder to a boil. Stir until the spices dissolve completely. Fill a hot, clean quart jar with cumin seeds, whole allspice, and ginger coins; pack the jar with tomatoes; then pour the hot brine mixture over the tomatoes.
Ball Wide-Mouth Quart Jars | Ball 4-Piece Canning Utensil Set | Ball FreshTech Electric Water Bath Canner
This post updated from an article that originally appeared on August 29, 2011.