Pickled green tomatoes are a great way to use up those end of the season unripe tomatoes! These tangy, crisp treats are the perfect addition to sandwiches, salads, or enjoyed straight from the jar for a flavorful twist on a classic snack.
A Note on Seasonality
If you’re here, you probably are at the end of your tomato growing season and looking for ways to use up those green unripe tomatoes that will never ripen before the first frost or before the vines die back. You could just compost them, but why do that? You put in all that hard work growing these vines so give this green tomato recipe a try.
Although you can make pickled green tomatoes any time of the year (green tomatoes are available at most grocery stores too), it is truly best at the end of summer or fall when tomatoes are in season or when the season is coming to a close.
I want to clarify that green tomatoes are unripe or underripe tomatoes. Do not confuse them with Tomatillos, which are a whole other type of fruit. Tomatillos (also known as husk tomatoes) are part of the physalis family. Even though you can probably pickle them, I recommend using them in different ways like my Salsa Verde or my Peach Tomatillo Salsa recipes.
Refrigerator pickling is much easier to do because it doesn’t require canning equipment like a water bath canner and knowledge. You just follow the recipe and refrigerate. That’s it!
This recipe comes together with a few pantry staples and of course, the star of the show, unripe green tomatoes.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Green Tomatoes: Well, they are the star of the show here. No substitutions. But if you stumbled upon this page by accident and are looking for a more generic/standard recipe, check out my Quick Pickle Recipe and Guide.
- White Vinegar: I like the punchiness of white distilled vinegar, but you can totally use apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, champagne vinegar or rice vinegar. Stay away from deeply colored vinegars like sherry, balsamic or red wine vinegar.
- Sugar: The sugar is used to help balance the acidity from the tomatoes and vinegar. You can use more of it (like a bread and butter pickles) or less of it. You can omit too.
- Spices: Get creative here. I like using standard spices like black peppercorns, mustard seeds and bay leaves but you can also use coriander, turmeric, cumin, celery seed, dill seeds, and other spices.
- Fresh Dill: I love fresh dill in any pickled preparation, but feel free to use something else here. Cilantro might work well.
Fun additions: feel free to experiment. Add some sliced red onions to the mix or some red pepper flakes.
How to Pickle Green Tomatoes
1. Pickling Brine: Make the pickling brine by combining warm water, vinegar, salt and sugar. Using a whisk, stir to dissolve.
2. Prepare Tomatoes: Cut larger tomatoes into chunks and smaller tomatoes in halves. You want to expose some of the interior so that the tomatoes pickle all the way through.
3. Pack: In your jar, place the garlic, bay leaf, spices and fresh dill. Pack as many green tomatoes in there as you can.
4. Pour: Carefully pour the pickling solution over the tomatoes. Tap the jar to release any air bubbles. Seal and refrigerate.
You can start to enjoy them within 2 days, but I recommend waiting at least 5 days.
SAFETY NOTES AND STORAGE
As always, make sure your equipment and jars are clean (with hot soapy water) and sterilized if possible. This will help reduce the chance of any bacterial growth. This recipe was not tested for water bath canning, therefore it is NOT a canning recipe. It is a refrigerator pickle, meaning that the pickling and storage stage happens in the refrigerator.
Refrigerator pickles could last in the fridge for several months, but I recommend you consume them within 1-2 months. After 2 months, their texture and color will begin to deteriorate.
If you observe any unusual growths or odors, discard the pickles. A good rule of thumb is: when in doubt, throw it out.
To learn more about the pickling process (as well as fermenting, drying, confit and other preservation techniques), check out my book, Seed to Table.
- Use firm green, underripe tomatoes for this recipe. There are some varieties of tomatoes that remain green when ripe (Lucky Tiger, Green Zebras, Aunt Rubys German Green). To be sure you are using green/underripe tomatoes, give them a squeeze. They should be really firm to the touch, almost like a tennis ball.
- You can use pint jars or half-pint mason jars (500ml or 250ml). I would personally avoid making too large of a batch at any given time, but if you wanted to you could double this recipe and use quart jars. Make sure to always keep the pickling brine solution ratio the same.
- Always use a glass jar when pickling. Don’t use metal or plastic as there are no guarantees that the pickling liquid won’t interact with the container material. Glass is the safest option.
- Avoid using iodized table salt. I like using Kosher or Pickling salt. Sea salt is also a good choice.
- You can use green cherry tomatoes exclusively in this recipe. If you prefer not to cut them up, you can prick them with a toothpick a few times and proceed with the recipe. This will help the green cherry tomatoes pickle thoroughly but also keep their round shape.
Yes, absolutely! You can pickle underripe green tomatoes in the same way you would any other fruit or vegetable. Follow the recipe instructions to ensure a safe and enjoyable pickle project.
The short answer is no. A refrigerator (or quick) pickle recipe is not typically tested for water bath canning. If you do end up using a recipe for canning, make sure it has been tested and is safe. Following canning recipes from reputable sources like Ball and Bernardin are a good place to start.
Other Tomato Recipes You Will Enjoy
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Pickled Green Tomatoes
- 1 cup Water - hot
- 1 cup Distilled white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt - or Pickling salt
- 1 teaspoon Sugar
- 1 lbs Green unripe tomatoes
- 1-2 Garlic cloves - peeled, and root end cut off
- 1 Bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon Black peppercorns
- ½ teaspoon Mustard seed - yellow or black
- 1 Sprig of dill
- Pickling Solution: Make the pickling solution by combining warm water, vinegar, salt and sugar. Using a whisk, stir to dissolve.
- Prepare Tomatoes: Cut any larger tomatoes into chunks and smaller tomatoes in halves. You want to expose some of the interior so that they pickle all the way through.
- Pack: In the jar, place the garlic, bay leaf, spices and fresh dill. Pack as many green tomatoes in there as you can.
- Pour: Carefully pour the pickling solution over the tomatoes. Tap the jar to release any air bubbles. Seal and refrigerate. You can start enjoying them within 2 days, but I recommend waiting at least 5 days.