The more we grow our own food, the more I understand and appreciate farmers, especially how their lives can revolve around harvesting. As the cold temperatures creep in, I find myself pulled into the garden, collecting what is left of our summer herbs and vegetables, and then back into the kitchen as we preserve what we grew. We're also busy getting the garden ready for the winter season. We planted tatsoi, which grows even under the snow, and put garlic in the ground last week and have now begun the long wait until it's ready to harvest in July. I have less time for other things these days, but soon the garden will be in winter low-maintenance mode.
We had loads of tomatoes to pull off the vines before the frosts hit, and we ended up with about five pounds of ripe or nearly ripe and about the same amount of green tomatoes. We also had about three dozen jalapeños and about two dozen Hungarian wax peppers. Since our counters were overflowing with tomatoes and peppers, I wanted to try my sister's recipe for pickled green tomatoes. I call her The Canning Queen, a title she has worked hard to earn. She's been canning for about 20 years and making this pickle recipe for three years with great success. This year she put up 19 quarts of these delicious pickled tomatoes. They are good cut up in salads or as a snack right out of the jar.
DISCLAIMER: This method is not one I normally follow for canning as there is no processing after packing the jars; they self seal due to the heat of the cooked brine. If my sister hadn't done so much successful experimenting with it, I probably would have been leery of trying it. Still, if some of the jars don't seal, you will need to store them in the refrigerator. For maximum safety, refrigerate all the jars and use within a few months.
This month I find myself with multiple Grow Your Own posts since all of the tomatoes and peppers came from our garden, though this is not my official entry. Grow Your Own is a blogging event that celebrates the dishes we create from foods we've grown, raised, foraged, or hunted ourselves. If you are new to the event, you can read more about the rules for participating at the Grow Your Own page. Posts are due on October 30, so there is still time to participate. Send your post information and photo to me.
[Updated December 24, 2010.]
Featured in One Big Table, by Molly O'Neill, one of The New York Times' "Year's Best Cookbooks" for 2010.
Pickled Green Tomatoes
- 12 pint or 6 quart jars
- 12-16 quart pot
- 3 quart pot
- 6 quart pot
- lid wand
- canning funnel
- jar lifter
- 5 pounds green tomatoes (no red in the skin or meat - Romas or similar work well; also can use grape and cherry tomatoes whole as shown in photo above.)
- 2 quarts white distilled vinegar (5% acid)
- 3 quarts water
- ¾ cup pickling salt
Seasonings (per quart jar, use half for pint jars)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon olive oil (optional, for flavor)
- ¼ teaspoon pickling spice
- 2 spicy peppers (anaheim, jalapeno, serrano, banana, Hungarian wax, or habanero, whole or sliced in half and seeded)
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill (or ¼ teaspoon dry dill)
- ¼ teaspoon powdered alum (optional, keeps the tomatoes crispy)
- Sterilize jars, rings, and lids according to the instructions in Home Canning (Boiling Water Method). Keep the jars in the 12-16 quart pot and the lids and bands in the 3-quart pot with hot, not boiling, water. (Optional: My sister does the dishwasher method and turns on the heated dry cycle to get the jars good and hot just before adding the ingredients.)
- Rinse the tomatoes, peppers, and dill. Quarter the green tomatoes, removing any bad spots. Place the peppers and garlic in the bottom of the jars, then add tomatoes up to about ½ inch (1 cm) from rim of the jar. Add the olive oil, pickling spice, alum (optional), and fresh dill.
- In the 6-quart pot, cook vinegar, water, and coarse salt over high heat until it comes to a strong rolling boil. The jars have to seal based solely on the heat of this mixture, so keep it good and hot the whole time.
- Portion the vinegar solution into the jars, adding enough to cover the tomatoes and seasonings, but still leaving ½ inch (1 cm) of headspace. If the tomatoes were packed very tight, run a plastic spatula inside the jar to get rid of any air bubbles.
- Tighten lids and wipe off edges, and leave out on the counter for about 1 hour. Listen for the popping sound to make sure they seal. Label the jars when cool.
- To give the pickles time to develop flavor, set aside for at least two weeks before eating. Store in a cool, dark, dry place and use within 3 months.
It doesn't take much growing your own to really appreciate what a farmer goes through.
Love the idea of the pickled green tomatoes, I would think they are divine! I always loved the fried green tomatoes.
That sounds really good. I always consider canning things late in the season, but have never done it. I'll have to try! There's definitely something about growing your own food that changes everything.
Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) says
I'm going to scour the local farm stands for green roma tomatoes -- this recipe looks great, and I'm a sucker for having all sorts of pickled things stacked in my pantry.
hi from Tokyo, the pickled tomatoes look good enough to eat, the pickled tomatoes look good enough to eat, maybe Ill try them sometime.
That's a great idea for using green tomatoes that you don't want to fry. The dill makes a nice addition. Wonder if you could puree the pickled tomatoes and make some kind of relish or sauce.
I have never been a canner but I should become one someday!! Great idea to save the tomatoes!
Heh ... well, Jane's recipe uses dills from the jar, but I do love to pickle! Right now I've got a massive batch of sweet yellow squash pickle in the fridge. Mmmm ...
Wow, as much as I have canned in my life I have never heard of pickled sweet yellow squash! Ever share your recipies ? Would love to try this.
Susan from Food Blogga says
I love all sorts of pickled vegetables, though I haven't had pickled green tomatoes yet. These look great, Andrea!
Very interesting! I bet those pickled green tomatoes taste wonderful!
I always thought green tomatoes were such a loss but now I am finding more and more uses for them. I used to grow more when I lived in the south but my house here in VA does not get much sun so I am very limited with what I can do. So I will live vicariously through your garden and canning! I do grow herbs successfully though.
We raise tomatoes and enjoy them all summer. At the end of the growing season (first frost), we gather all the green tomatoes and make relish. This year I will add pickled tomatoes to the list. Thanks
George Klales says
My mom and dad used to make pickled green tomatoes when I was growing up. They had to sit for at least a month before they were ready to eat. This year my brother and I are going to try to pickle some tomatoes. Mom's recipe is a lot like yours. Mom didn't use olive oil. I guess I'll try some with and some without the oil. Thanks
My sister says she adds the olive oil for a little flavor, but it's not required for the recipe.
I had pickled green tomatoes last year for the first time and loved them. This year I thought I would try to make them, so I searched the web for a recipe. I found yours and tried it. I opened the first jar just 2 days ago to share with my co-workers. The quart was gone in 20 minutes and everyone loved them! Last night a co-worker and I made another 17 quarts. Today another co-worker asked for the recipe so she can make them too. Thanks, they're awesome!
I'm so glad you liked them, Jeanne! We think they are pretty addictive. We also like to chop them up into a relish for hamburgers and hot dogs.
saw your reply to jeanne's comment. as she is my sister, i can attest to there tastiness. we had some as a relish on bratwurst!
Wally Sibson says
Pickled Green Tomatoes!!!!!!!
elliott keller says
where do I find pikling salt and pikling spice? I'm a real novice, my wife says I can't cook. I just want to show her!
Hi Elliott. I've seen pickling salt and pickling spice at Wal-Mart in the home goods area where they sell the canning jars as well as various grocery stores in the spice area. Have fun!
I canned my green tomatoes with your recipe last year. They were awesome! But the longer they sat on the shelf, the soggier they got. Any tips on using maybe more alum or grape leaves? I'm about to do some more, but want them as crunchy as possible. HELP!
I'll be following this recipe to make a batch here in a few days. Should I expect these to be similar in flavor to sweet pickles or dill pickles?
Hi Larry. There's no sugar in the recipe so these won't be sweet at all. They are pretty tangy and if you add the hot peppers they'll be spicy, too.
Kenda Walters says
I've pickled green tomatoes for years but, this time couldn't find my recipe so I found yours. It's better and more elaborate than mine was anyway. I did pickle 15 pints last Wednesday evening and they look absolutely wonderful. My question is regarding the garlic cloves. Almost all of them have developed a bluish tint (almost light teal color). Is this normal? Nothing else has changed in color and I doubt that it's harmful but, I thought I'd check with the expert.
Hi Kenda. The color change in the garlic is not harmful, just comes as a result of all the green vegetables in the jar. I hope you enjoy them!
Do I really have to use distilled white vinegar? Can I just use my home-made apple cider vinegar?
Hi Maggie. The National Center for Home Food Preservation (http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can_06/prep_foods.html) recommends avoiding vinegars of unknown acidity to avoid spoilage and botulism. You must test your homemade vinegar to be sure it's safe to use for canning, especially if you do not plan to process the pickles in a boiling water canner.
I followed this recipe and was delighted with the results. Delicious! It is so hard to find green tomatoes that I'd like to try with cucumbers. Does anyone know if it transfers well to other veggies?
I made the first batch and processed them for 10min. They were a little soggy so I decided on the 2nd try to sterilize the jars with the dishwasher and not process, just relying on the boiling brine to make it safe. Still, I'm concerned; is it dangerous? Even processing in a water bath will not kill spores. What is the level of risk in your method?
Just curious. Loved the recipe! Delicious:)
Hi Tammie. The National Center for Food Preservation states that green tomatoes are more acidic than ripened tomatoes and can be safely canned using the boiling water method, though they still need acidification (the vinegar). As for sterilization, there are no guarantees with this method my sister uses. For maximum safety, refrigerate them and use within a few months.
Concerned Canner says
Andrea (Tammi & everyone else for that matter)
The "Boiling Water" method recommended by the NCHFP is indeed the Boiling Water Bath method or what they call Boiling Water Canner. The method your (Andreas) recipe calls out is extremely risky if NOT storing the pickled goods in a refrigerator. The vacuum seal is a weak one and there is still air trapped in the jar.
Here is the NCHFP approved and tested recipe for the same thing. The taste is excellent, but the maters are little on the mushy-side.
run any recipe by your state extension service if anyone has any questions or doubts.
glad I saw this. Was getting ready to make the same reply. In my opinion, most people are not going to 'can' multiple jars using this or any other recipe and put them in the fridge. Who has room and canning is all about preserving things outside of the fridge. It is a very good way to poison yourself or your friends and family. Follow the directions as laid out by the NCHFP. Go online,call your local extension office or to the Ball canning recipes online. By the Blue Ball recipe book. It is far better to do it correctly and it only takes 15 more minutes of your time. I can and sell under the Oregon Farm Bill and I can tell you that no one would recommend 'canning' by this method.
The recipe does sound delicious and I plan on trying it but my jars will be water bath canned.
Sheila Atwood says
This look like a great recipe. Our growing season has been so slow this year and we have loads of green tomatoes. We also have an over abundance of dill.
Boomer the boxer says
I just pickled 20 quarts of green tomatoes tonight. They are wonderful pickled! I can/and or pickle alot of things, but my green tomatoes/garden mix, is my favorite. They are so easy and cheap to do. Most people throw away their tomato plants late in the season. If you ask, you may get many for free. You can put anything with them, I.E. celery, carrots, onion, radishes, green beans, jalapenos, green peppers, etc., your imagination is the limit! The thing with the green tomatoes, is that they are "firm" and can well. Don't try it with anything but green tomatoes, if they are yellow, or any other color then green, they will be "mushey"! If you need a recepe, feel free to reply!
Does anyone have a way to use up / preserve / save the ripe and partially ripe grape tomatoes? I hate to waste them, and its too many to waste.
Boomer the boxer says
You can wrap them in newspaper and put them in the "basement" and/or a cool dry place away from light, and they will keep for a long time. Green tomatoes will last all winter. As they begin to ripen, eat them. Almost like apples, that you wrap in newspaper and put in the bottom of the fridge. They will slowly ripen over the winter. This way you'll have plenty all winter long. I don't do this because I pickle green tomatoes. They also pickle very well. They are really crisp. If you'd like to try them that way, let me know, I'll give you a recipe. Good luck!
Tami Henzel says
lOOKS LIKE THE CLOSEST RECIPE THAT i REMEMBER FROM MY CHILDHOOD. i WILL LET YOU KNOW.
would this recipe work for cucumbers?
I live in FL and have a nice patch of Romas that were not getting to the red, ripe stage before the bugs, squirrels,birds, etc. started getting at them.So, I thought of what I could do with the lovely green ones. I have always liked pickled green tomatoes but, never made them before.
Your recipe sounded easy and it was. And, boy! are they deeelicious. I think they are the best I've had....And, I made them! makes'em even better!
I highly recommend Thanks.. I will use this recipe for years to come.
Just wondering if you have used the same recipe for pickling okra?
Emily Hope says
My father wants some pickled green tomatoes like his sister, Emma used to make. I am certain this isn't her recipe but at least it gives me an idea on how to begin! He is 82... Its the least I can do! Thanks!
Thanks for sharing this recipe. I've been bumming out about having so many green tomatoes, I think I'm actually a bit excited now! I am looking forward to making them this week.