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Green Tomato Pickles

Don’t let a single homegrown tomato go to waste – even the green ones! Green Tomato Pickles with a sweet dill brine are crunchy and slightly tart, like the best pickle you’ve ever had. No pressure canning required – these are refrigerator pickles! (Updated September 2021)

Jars of Green Tomato Pickles

I first started making pickled green tomatoes a few years ago, when a beautifully warm and sunny summer stretched into fall, and my tomatoes, rather than looking droopy and pathetic, took off and produced a whole new crop of green tomatoes, far too late in the season to fully ripen.

At the time, I wasn’t even sure if green tomato pickles were actually a thing, but I was determined to give it a try — the investment was small, afterall, for a potentially huge reward.

Green cherry tomatoes in a bowl for Green tomato pickles

So, I set about gathering all the green tomatoes. I picked cherry tomatoes; I picked standard tomatoes. They were perfect and beautiful, and I took lots of photos of everything because I’m obsessed with photographing my garden, lol.

I had tons of green tomatoes — from bite-sized cherries to the big slicers. It was pickle time!

You’re not likely to find unripe green tomatoes at the store, but, if you don’t grow your own tomatoes, no worries.

Just visit your local farmers’ market and ask your favorite tomato grower if they would bring you some green tomatoes. I bet they’d be very happy to have an outlet for all of the green tomatoes in their fields!

Seasonings for Green Tomato Pickles

I’ve tweaked and perfected the seasoning blend over time, and the pickled green tomatoes recipe you’ll find below is the result of testing literally dozens of jars of pickled tomatoes.

It’s a tough job, but I’m on it! 😉

I started with dill, of course, and added fennel (both bulb and seed), mustard seed and marjoram, plus a few other herbs and spices to create a completely unique and delicious batch.

Can you eat unripe green tomatoes?

Yes, green tomatoes are edible, even raw! They’re very astringent, very firm, and not particularly tasty, which is why fried green tomato recipes are so popular.

But when you pickle raw green tomatoes … {chef’s kiss}.

Now, if you have a known sensitivity to the alkaloids of the nightshade family, you probably already know what to avoid. Food science writer, Harold McGee, says there’s very little evidence of serious tomato toxicity, but if tomatoes give you headaches, nausea, or other unpleasantries, this pickle concoction probably isn’t for you.

Jars of green tomatoes and seasoning, ready for brine

How to select green tomatoes for green tomato pickles

If you’ve ever tasted an under-ripe tomato, then you know that they’re hard and slightly bitter-tart. In other words, not particular great for fresh eating, lol.

But this quality is exactly what makes a green tomato the perfect pickling medium: it’s native tartness complements the sweet, vinegary bite of the salty pickle brine.

Note that when I say “green tomatoes,” I mean under-ripe tomatoes. There are amazing heirloom tomatoes that are green when ripe, such as the Green Zebra tomato (which you can see in the video in this post — I made a batch of green tomato pickle slices using under-ripe Green Zebras).

A slight blush on the tomato is okay, but for maximum pickle crunch, avoid ripe tomatoes.

Tomatoes for pickling should be very firm and flawless. Reject tomatoes that have cracks at the stem end or soft spots elsewhere.

Don’t just cut the out spot — it’s usually a sign of rot or disease — it will impact how long your green tomato pickles will last in the jar.

Jars of green tomato pickles

Refrigerator pickles are not shelf-stable, but they’re so easy to make, and they’ll still last a long time in the fridge because of its acid environment.

And because you don’t have to worry about maintaining a correct pH balance for room temperature food safety, you have complete flexibility in flavoring and seasoning your pickle brine.

Also, you don’t have to worry about filling a jar to the top: if your harvest of green tomatoes falls short of a full pint, no problem! With refrigerated green tomato pickles, you can make as large or small a batch as you need.

Another advantage of refrigerator pickles over water bath canning: since you’re not heating the tomatoes, they won’t go soft like they would in the sustained heat of the canning environment.

Crunchy tomato pickles for the win!

What do you eat pickled green tomatoes with?

Oh my gosh, so many things! I make these pickles every summer — sometimes multiple times throughout the summer, if I get impatient for their puckery goodness — and I just can’t keep jars in the house. They disappear like that [snap!].

Here are a few ideas to use up your first jar of green tomato pickles:

  • Charcuterie and cheese boards: tangy, vinegary bites are the perfect complement to the rich components of a meat and cheese board, and these pickles fit the bill. They’re beautiful on the board, and attractively unusual. They’ll be the surprise hit of the party!
  • Salads: Think of them as olive substitutes — wherever olives go, so do pickled green tomatoes. They’re also amazing in cold pasta salads, such as my Italian Pasta Salad and Mediterranean Salad.
  • Sandwiches: from burgers to cold subs, replace cucumber pickles with tomato pickles, and enjoy the unique twist of summer on your favorite sandwiches.
  • Snacking right out of the jar: I have to come clean and admit that I always make a jar that’s just for me to nibble from. In the batch made for this post, it’s the tall jar in the photos with the top two inches of pickles missing, lol.

Charcuterie board with pickled green tomatoes

Your first batch of tomato pickles will be ready for tasting in just 5 days, although you can sneak a test at any time. I love the slicers for late summer veggie burgers on the grill, but I really love the pickled cherry tomatoes sliced into quarters: they’re delightful bites on a cheese board any time of year (holiday parties, anyone?).

And since I love vinegary things, they’re the perfect afternoon snack, along with some almonds and a few cheese cubes.

Karen xo

Jars of green tomato pickles
Print Recipe
4.72 from 14 votes

Green Tomato Pickles

I've given no quantity for the green tomatoes - since this recipe is for refrigeration, it's very flexible. It doesn't take as many tomatoes as you might think to fill a pint or quart jar, so you're likely to have leftovers. And even if you run short and your tomatoes don't fill the jar, it's okay. I prefer to use pint jars (or even half pint jars), and use more jars in the process, so that I'm opening just one small jar at a time, leaving the rest sealed and hopefully lasting longer.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: refrigerator pickled green tomatoes
Servings: 2 pints
Calories: 15kcal
Author: Karen Gibson

Ingredients

  • Green tomatoes
  • 1 fennel bulb, roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon dill seed
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • black peppercorns

for the brine

  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoon sugar or honey

equipment

  • 2 pint canning jars or approximate equivalent

Instructions

  • For extra safety, briefly boil the canning jars and their lids and rings, and set upside down on a clean towel to dry.
  • Prepare the tomatoes and seasonings
  • Remove any green stems from the tomatoes, then clean and dry them thoroughly.
  • For cherry tomatoes, slice them into halves or quarters. For "hamburger pickle slices" using small standard tomatoes, slice off the stem end, them slice them into 1/8" thick slices horizontally (i.e., between the stem and blossom ends). For medium standard tomatoes, slice off the stem end, then slice the tomato in half vertically. Slice each half horizontally in 1/8" thick slices. (Alternatively, you can slice standard tomatoes into small wedges.)
  • Divide the fennel slices and garlic among the jars more or less evenly.
  • Optional: crush the mustard, dill, and fennel seeds lightly in a mortar and pestle.
  • Divide the herbs and spices among jars, pouring them over the fennel and garlic. Add 6 to 8 black peppercorns to each jar.
  • Pack the sliced tomatoes in to the jar, leaving about 3/4" head room.

Prepare the brine

  • In a 2 quart pot, bring the brine ingredients to a boil, stirring until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved.
  • Carefully pour the brine over the tomatoes, leaving 1/2" space at the top.
  • Wipe the rims and affix the lids, tightening to fingertip tightness. For the first minute or so, check the lids, and tighten again if they're loose.
  • Let the jars rest on the counter until cool. It's very likely that the lids will self-seal with a loud *pop*.
  • Label jars with the date and place in the refrigerator.
  • Tomato pickles will likely last as long in the fridge as regular pickles, thanks to the vinegar/salt/sugar solution. Keep an eye out for any sign of mold or off smells and discard the batch if you find any.

Notes

- Although it's tempting to use another vinegar, such as raw apple cider or red wine vinegar, I've personally found the flavors to be too strong. Plain vinegar lets the seasonings shine through with a nice amount of pickle pucker.
- Even if the jars self-seal, the technique described here is *not* sufficient for unrefrigerated storage. This recipe has not been tested for its suitably and safety in water-bath canning, and should not be used as such.

Recipe Video

Nutrition

Calories: 15kcal
Nutritional information, if shown, is provided as a courtesy only, and is not to be taken as medical information or advice. The nutritional values of your preparation of this recipe are impacted by several factors, including, but not limited to, the ingredient brands you use, any substitutions or measurement changes you make, and measuring accuracy.

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Three jars of green tomato pickles.

Recipe Rating




Leslie

Sunday 29th of October 2023

Can you water bath these? My fridge isn't big enough to keep a batch of jars inside.

Karen - SoupAddict

Sunday 29th of October 2023

I’m not an expert in canning so I can’t begin to guess whether the ph balance of this recipe produces a safe result. But I will say that the prolonged heat of water bath canning will soften the tomatoes and they will not be crunchy.

Tori Toma

Wednesday 11th of October 2023

How long after making should I wait to open and taste them?

SoupAddict

Wednesday 11th of October 2023

I would wait at least three days. I *just* opened this year’s batch after five days, and they were perfect.

In the past, I tasted them every day to monitor their progress and while they’re “pickleyish” the next day, Day 3 was when their future full flavors started shining through.

Terry

Sunday 8th of October 2023

The recipe shows pouring the boiled brine over the green tomato segments, won’t this just make the tomato segments soft and mushy ?

Terry

Monday 9th of October 2023

@SoupAddict, thanks…did not want to end up with a load of mush ! …that answers my question

SoupAddict

Sunday 8th of October 2023

Great question! It softens them ever so slightly but everything cools down fairly quickly when the hot liquid hits the room temp tomatoes.

I have a fresh batch pickling right now in the fridge and I can’t wait to sample them!

Jennifer

Monday 7th of August 2023

I'm starting to plan for my end-of-season green tomatoes, and did a test batch of this recipe. Omg. So good. I almost hope a lot of tomatoes don't ripen in late September. Fortunately, we have an extra fridge in the garage, because we'll be going through jars of these during football season!

Becca

Friday 31st of March 2023

I meant to leave a comment last year but forgot until this post came across my Discover feed. I decided to pickle a whole bunch of green tomatoes to enjoy over the winter. They didn't make past the start of football season. My friends and family devoured them at a couple of parties we had. Just so good.