Fermenting & Pickling / Recipes

4 Ways to Pickled Green Tomatoes

4 ways to pickled green tomatoes

When I first shared these signature Garden Betty recipes 12 years ago, an impending long road trip (and a veritable “field” of overgrown volunteer tomato plants) were the impetus for finding the quickest and easiest way to save and store my bumper crop of tomatoes.

Preserving ripe tomatoes is easy enough (after all, you can never have too much homemade tomato sauce or dehydrated tomatoes), but what to do about green, unripe tomatoes—and lots of them?

Enter: pickled green tomatoes.

5Green tomatoes on the vine
End-of-season unripe tomatoes
Backyard harvest of unripe tomatoes

That week, I walked into the garden and saw hundreds of green tomatoes hanging off the vines, just days away from ripening (and guaranteed to overripen by the time I returned from my trip).

My first thought was… Who’s gonna eat all of that?! (I certainly didn’t want to leave them for the raccoons!)

And so, just three days before I was set to depart, I spent an 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 mushy, 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.)

Related: Grow Tomatoes Like a Boss With These 10 Easy Tips

55 pounds of unripe tomatoes
Mountain of green unripe 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, thinking 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.

Read more: 9 *Updated* Canning Tips and Tricks for Modern-Day Home Canning

Guess what everybody’s getting for Christmas this year?

Jar of pickled green tomatoes
Disclosure: All products on this page are independently selected. If you buy from one of my links, I may earn a commission.

How to make pickled green tomatoes, 4 ways

Makes 1 quart

Ingredients

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

Instructions

Cut larger (slicing) tomatoes into 1/2-inch wedges, and cut smaller (cherry or grape) tomatoes in half.

Green tomatoes ready for preserving
Pack jars tightly with green tomatoes

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.

Bubble the jars with a chopstick to release trapped air bubbles

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.

Pour the hot brine over the tomatoes
Leave 1/2 inch headspace in the jar

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).

Quick tip: 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!

Green tomatoes in pickling brine

Store the jar in a cool, dark place. The green tomatoes will be perfectly pickled in about two weeks.

Add them 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!

Recipe notes

* 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.

Pickled green tomatoes
Jars of pickled green tomatoes

Common questions about green tomatoes

Is it safe to eat green tomatoes raw?

Absolutely! Green tomatoes (as well as tomato leaves) are edible, raw or cooked. They’re completely safe to eat and—contrary to popular belief—no part of a tomato plant is poisonous.

As with any vegetable, the key is consuming green tomatoes in moderation (especially if you’re sensitive to acidic foods or nightshades).

What do green tomatoes taste like?

Green unripe tomatoes are tart, acidic, and slightly astringent, depending on how young the tomatoes are. They have a firm, crunchy texture, and lack the juiciness of mature tomatoes.

While green tomatoes can be eaten raw, their astringency mellows out when cooked or canned.

What’s the difference between a green tomato and an unripe tomato?

Certain heirloom varieties of tomatoes (such as Green Zebras) start out green on the vine, and stay green when fully ripe. As they mature, their flavor sweetens, their pulp softens, and they become juicier inside, all while remaining green outside.

Unripe tomatoes (across all varieties) start out green as well, but turn any shade of pink, red, yellow, orange, purple, or black as they develop.

My pickled green tomato recipes use green unripe tomatoes, as their natural tartness complements the punchy flavors in pickling spices.

How can I get my pickled green tomatoes to stay crunchy after canning?

If these pickled green tomatoes are too soft for your liking after going through a boiling water bath, try skipping the boiling water bath and making them as quick pickles instead.

Simply pour the hot brine over the tomatoes and spices, let the jar cool at room temperature, and store in the fridge.

Or, you can add Pickle Crisp (food-grade calcium chloride) to your jar, following the recommended package amounts.

If your pickled green tomatoes are mushy, the problem may be in the quality of green tomatoes used. Always start with firm, fresh, unripe tomatoes that were harvested before the first frost. (A freeze will turn tomatoes mushy, even if they appear fine on the outside.)

Unripe tomatoes left on the counter for a few days will also begin the process of ripening (and softening), so it’s best to use them as soon as you pick them.

What do you do with pickled green tomatoes?

Here are some of my favorite ways to use pickled green tomatoes in my everyday cooking:

  • Charcuterie and appetizer boards
  • Potato and pasta salads
  • Macaroni salads
  • Green salads
  • Salad dressings
  • Burgers and hot dogs
  • Sandwiches and wraps (particularly Mediterranean-inspired wraps)
  • Tacos
  • Rice and noodle bowls
  • Bloody Mary cocktails and dirty martinis

I also have lots of suggestions for using the leftover pickle brine here!

Where to buy pickling and canning supplies

Ball Wide-Mouth Quart Jars | Ball 4-Piece Canning Utensil Set | Ball FreshTech Electric Water Bath Canner

Yield: 1 quart

4 Ways to Pickled Green Tomatoes

4 ways to pickled green tomatoes

Turn an excess of green, unripe tomatoes into pickled green tomatoes with your choice of four different pickling brines.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Additional Time 14 days
Total Time 14 days 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Cut larger (slicing) tomatoes into 1/2-inch wedges, and cut smaller (cherry or grape) tomatoes in half.
  2. 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.
  3. Fill a hot, clean quart jar with the pickling spice mix of your choice. Pack the jar tightly with the tomatoes.
  4. 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.
  5. 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).
  6. 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!

Notes

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

** When making Curried 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; pack the jar with tomatoes; then pour the hot brine mixture over the tomatoes.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1/2 cup

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 47Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 815mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 1gSugar: 7gProtein: 1g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

This post updated from an article that originally appeared on August 29, 2011.

More green tomato recipes you might like:

View the Web Story on pickled green tomatoes.

About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring—all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »

212 Comments

  • John Mitchell
    October 7, 2022 at 9:28 am

    Thanks for the recipe. I canned the last of the green grape tomatoes from my plant. I went with 4 pints instead of the quart and I can’t wait to try them next month.

    Reply
  • Gene @The California Table
    July 29, 2022 at 3:45 pm

    looking forward to trying these recipes:) wondering…how come you specify a “hot” jar? is that specifically needed if you are CANNING the tomatoes? I was thinking I’d make “quick pickles”–just one jar, no boiling water bath, eat within a few weeks, store in fridge. I’d appreciate your advice:)

    Reply
  • Talia
    July 25, 2022 at 8:10 pm

    Hi Linda,

    I made quite a few of these, and now I have run out green tomato chutney/relish, I am keen to try your idea of turning these into a relish! Is this something you have done or posted about else where? I’m not sure how to go about it!

    Thanks, Talia

    Reply
    • Kim
      October 20, 2023 at 2:13 pm

      I use my pickled tomatoes for relish all of the time!

      Reply
  • Donna
    October 24, 2021 at 4:49 pm

    Thanks for the recipes!

    Reply
  • Debbie Chatelain
    July 31, 2021 at 8:57 am

    The recipe is for 1 quart. If I’m using pint jars, should I just half the spices? Or put the full amount in each jar?
    Thanks

    Reply
  • Deb
    May 23, 2021 at 12:11 pm

    Thank you for this recipe. I am making the dilly garlicky but added a Pasilla chili to jazz it up a bit. It will go in the fridge as we like them firmer. Can you tell me how long they need to pickle in the fridge?

    Reply
  • M
    February 9, 2021 at 2:55 pm

    I love fried green tomatoes, and fried cucumber pickles are also really delicious. I bet fried pickled green tomatoless would be really delicious!

    Reply
    • Linda Ly
      February 11, 2021 at 2:20 pm

      I bet they would be! Might have to try that next time in my air fryer. 😉

      Reply
  • Jody Chance
    October 14, 2020 at 11:14 pm

    Must the cherry tomatoes be cut in half? I realize that you cannot pack them as tight, but am planning on filling the spaces with small cauliflower florets (unless you think that is not a good idea).

    Reply
    • Linda from Garden Betty
      October 26, 2020 at 3:58 am

      They don’t need to be cut in half, but as you said, you won’t be able to pack your jar as tightly.

      Reply
  • Teri
    August 17, 2020 at 10:58 pm

    This is my first try at pickling. How long will these be good for??

    Reply
    • Linda from Garden Betty
      September 2, 2020 at 8:09 am

      Unopened and kept in cool, dry, and dark conditions, they’ll be shelf stable for at least a year. After that, they may start to decline in quality but are still edible. (I’ve even eaten from jars that were 2+ years old.)

      Reply
  • michaeldillon
    November 6, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    I made these pickles and they were not crunchy at all. They are like mush and I followed the recipe exactly. I have pictures of the process as well.

    Reply
    • Linda from Garden Betty
      November 22, 2019 at 1:47 am

      They are meant to be on the softer side, but mushy could mean the green tomatoes started out slightly soft. If you want them firm (the way they were harvested), you can just place the jars in the fridge (no canning needed).

      Reply
    • Donna
      October 24, 2021 at 4:47 pm

      I found my soft well water made mushy peppers. Buy bottled water and try it. Think you will be surprised!

      Reply
  • Taras Czyzowycz
    November 6, 2019 at 3:21 pm

    Some sites say a water bath for tomatoes should be 15 min. Others say 40 min. Which is correct.

    Reply
    • Linda from Garden Betty
      November 22, 2019 at 2:00 am

      The recipe here is correct: 15 minutes in a boiling water bath at sea level. (Variations in processing times are due to differences in the type of preserve and method of packing. Always follow the recipe given.)

      Reply
      • Rhonda
        September 16, 2020 at 4:22 pm

        How much time to HWB a half pint jar?

        Reply
  • nancy ward
    October 27, 2019 at 5:09 pm

    With respect, I offer this opinion: Why do all website cooks set up their sites the same way: pic to the right, copious words and pics about yadda, yadda, yadda,… All I want is the recipe–upfront and top. I do not have the time and interest to review all the pics and words. I don’t get it.

    Reply
    • michaeldillon
      November 6, 2019 at 4:19 pm

      They do this because they want you to read and click on all the advertising on the sides. The more you have to pass by the more the imagine you will click on.

      Reply
    • Linda from Garden Betty
      November 22, 2019 at 2:10 am

      Thank you for stopping by. This is a personal blog, written by me, thus the personal stories and photos that go with my posts. If you just want the recipe, you can scroll past all that, or try a recipe-specific site like Allrecipes. However, I do feel that having step-by-step photos is helpful for the reader.

      Reply
      • NFM
        November 7, 2022 at 1:14 pm

        With most recipe websites look for “JUMP TO RECIPE.” It’s not usually very far down. Even the recipe-specific sites have them. Personally I like the pics. Sometimes they fill in the blanks as to how things should look at a particular stage when a recipe or procedure is completely unfamiliar.

        Reply
    • NFM
      November 7, 2022 at 1:16 pm

      With most recipe websites look for “JUMP TO RECIPE.” It’s not usually very far down. Even the recipe-specific sites have them. Personally I like the pics. Sometimes they fill in the blanks as to how things should look at a particular stage when a recipe or procedure is completely unfamiliar.

      Reply
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