How to Make Pickled Green Tomatoes

I reached a point last week where I just got tired of looking at tomato plants, tired of pruning, harvesting, and battling septoria — just kind of over tomatoes this year. I left my favorite variieties growing, but I ripped out plenty of plants so i could make room for our fall crops.

Since I hate wasting food (and doubly hate wasting food that we put all of this effort into growing!) I harvested as many of the green tomatoes as I could. Several have ripened over the last week, and we’ve been eating them. The rest….I needed to figure out how to deal with.

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I love pickles. I just do. And I knew I’d heard of green tomato pickles before, so I looked it up and made a few batches. The good news: they’re delicious, and it is SO EASY.

Here’s how.

What You Need:
(for 3 quarts of green tomato pickles)

8 pounds of green tomatoes
4 cups of white vinegar
4 cups of water
4 tbsp. of kosher salt
dill seeds
whole black peppercorns
garlic
red pepper flakes

Jars — either 3 quart-sized jars or 6 pint-sized jars, as well we lids and rings (or any old jar you can find, if you’re going to make refrigerator pickles)
Hot water canner (if you’re planning on storing your pickles long term)
Jar lifter

Prepping Your Tomatoes

(Note: If you’re planning to process your pickles in a hot water canner, you should fill the canner with water, add your jars, and turn the water on to sterilize and warm your jars. Just leave the jars in the water until you’re ready to use them. Place the lids and rings in another pan with simmering – not boiling- water until you’re ready to use them.)

**One of the sites I found when I searched for green tomato pickles online was Garden Betty — who wrote a great post on the topic. I adapted the spices and quantities to work for me, but she has some great ideas for other spice blends.

Gather and wash 8 pounds of green tomatoes. After tasting the ones I made, I prefer cherry tomatoes because they seemed to stay firmer after processing, but any tomato will work.

Then, cut your tomatoes in half. If they’re larger, cut them into quarters.

Now, it’s time to make your brine. Add the vinegar, water, and salt to a pan, and bring it to a boil. Once it’s boiling, it’s time to start filling your jars.

Remove the jars from the boiling water canner with your jar tongs. Set them on a towel on your counter (so they don’t crack when they come into contact with the cool surface) and add the following to each jar:

  • 1 tsp. dill seeds
  • 1 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 tsp (or more if you want them spicier) of red pepper flakes

Once your spices are in, start packing your tomatoes into the jars. Really, pack them in. Once they’re packed, add brine to fill the spaces between tomatoes. Use a chopstick or knife to go around the inside of the jar and remove any air bubbles, then fill with more brine if you need to. Leave 1/4 inch of headspace, then wipe the rims of your jars to clean up any brine, add your lids and tighten your rings.Pickled Green Tomatoes

Put your jars in your hot water canner, and cover with a lid. Once the water comes up to a boil, start your timer — you’ll be processing your pickles for fifteen minutes.

Once time is up, remove your jars — carefully — and place them on a towel on your counter. They’ll have to sit there for several hours to cool.

Making Refrigerator Pickled Green Tomatoes

You can also forget about the boiling water processing if you just want to make a few jars of pickles to be eaten within the next month or so. Prep your tomatoes, add your spices, tomatoes, and boiling brine to the jars, and place in the refrigerator. They’ll be ready to eat in about a week.

What to Do with Pickled Green Tomatoes

You can snack on them, of course. Or slice/dice them up to top a hamburger or hot dog. I also diced some of mine up and added them to chicken salad that I was making for sandwiches — really good.

Which is Better? Processed or Refrigerator?

I made mine both ways so I could see which version tasted better. At this point, I prefer the refrigerator method because they are crisper than the ones I processed in the boiling water bath. However, if you added something like “Pickle Crisp” to the jars, processed green tomato pickles would probably be much more crisp.

I hope you try these! They’re easy to make, and it’s always great when we can avoid wasting food from our gardens.

More About Preserving the Harvest:

How To Make Quick and Easy Refrigerator Dilly Beans

How to Make Dill Pickles

How to Make Easy Watermelon Rind Refrigerator Pickles

How to Make Chive Blossom Vinegar

How to Make Roasted Green Tomatoes

The end of the gardening season, the threat of impending frost, usually leaves me contemplating ways to save and/or use all of the green tomatoes still maturing on my tomato plants. Here is one easy, delicious way to put those green tomatoes to use: roasting!

How to Oven Roast Green Tomatoes

This is another one of those non-recipe recipes. Here’s how you do it.
1. Quarter large tomatoes (such as ‘Brandywine’ or ‘Polish Linguisa’). Halve smaller tomatoes, such as ‘Roma’ or ‘Japanese Black Trifele.’ Leave cherry tomatoes whole. You don’t need to worry about removing the seeds.

2. Place the cut-up tomatoes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Rimmed is important — there will be a lot of juice!

3. Drizzle some olive oil over the top of the tomatoes, then add salt and pepper. I like my tomatoes a little on the spicy side, so I also added a few crushed red pepper flakes to mine.

4. Use your hands to swoosh the tomatoes around in the oil to ensure that they’re all coated.

5. Place your tomatoes in a pre-heated 250 degree oven. Let your tomatoes roast for 1.5 to 2 hours, until they are soft. (Note: I’ve seen recommendations for everything from 250 to 400 degrees for roasting. I tend to get a burned mess when I roast at 400, but if you like more charring on the tomatoes, go for it. I like 250 because it results in a nice, slow, gentle roasting and very tender, sweet roasted green tomatoes.)

How to Use Roasted Green Tomatoes

You could do what Gayla Trail recommends, and eat the roasted green tomatoes slathered on a piece of crusty bread. You could use them to top a pizza, or in pasta, or as a really unique topping to a burger (roasted green tomatoes and sharp cheddar cheese — yum.)

If you’re not able to use them up right away, put your roasted tomatoes (after they’ve cooled) into a freezer container or freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to six months. Simply thaw them overnight in the refrigerator the night before you want to use them.

This is a good way to make use of something that many of us end up composting. Have you tried roasted green tomatoes?