Preserving Green Tomatoes

The tomato season is ending quickly. As of today, I don’t foresee many more ripe tomatoes coming off of the vine. I’ve had a good run: 110 lbs of ripe fruit in all! This was my first year weighing the harvest, so while I can’t make an accurate comparison to previous years, I think it is safe to say that it was my best year, ever.

It’s time now to focus on the unripe, green tomatoes. In an attempt to squeeze a few more ripe fruit from the harvest I’ve been nestling those that are nearly there inside paper bags. This sort of treatment isn’t exactly necessary, but with fruit flies still around, I find it easier to keep them off of the goods this way.

In my experience, not all green tomatoes will ripen by this method. The fruit that is really young and underdeveloped tends to go wrinkly and rot rather than ripening, so I reserve this process for the tomatoes that have a blush of colour and save the darker green fruit for eating fresh and preserving.

Eating & Preserving

My favourite way to eat green tomatoes straight off of the plant is batter fried. They are also delicious roasted in the oven. When it comes to preserving, my go-to is green tomato chutney. Everyone loves this condiment, and there is never a lack of friends available to take the surplus off of my hands. If you’re not interested in canning or only have a small batch to work with, you can cut the sugar (and some of the vinegar/acid) from my recipe and store it in the fridge short-term. My no-sugar added, short shelf-life, small-batch version is available in my first book, “You Grow Girl” (see page 154).

Dilled Green Tomatoes

This year, with such a large quantity on hand (I am predicting 20-30 lbs of green tomatoes), I have been seeking out new ways to use up the glut. As I write this, 7 pint-sized jars of pickled green tomatoes are processing in the canning pot. I’ve never tasted nor made pickled green tomatoes before, so while I can’t yet recommend this method of preserving, I also can’t imagine how it could go wrong. Most things taste good when pickled, even crab apples! Why not unripe tomatoes?

Because I have no taste experience with this pickle, I decided to forgo developing my own recipe and instead looked to existing recipes as a start. If I like how this turns out, I will try my hand at developing my own recipe in the future. To begin, I wanted to get the true taste of green tomatoes without a lot of spices or intense flavours added in, so I decided to base my first batch on the simple dilled pickle found in The Ball/Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving (page 319). However, because I had some odds and ends from the garden that I wanted to use up, I added a few ‘Egyptian Walking Onion’ bulbils (peeled first) and teeny ‘Chinese Ornamental’ hot peppers to each jar. I also aded some mustard seeds — I couldn’t help myself.

I can’t legally (or ethically) post the recipe from the book; however, I have found it online over here.

For some reason the Bernardin website does not include this recipe, but it does have a sweetened green tomato pickle that might be worth trying if you prefer. I had considered going that route initially, but was concerned that it might be too similar to my chutney.

I’ll let you know how it turns out in about a month, once the flavours have had some time to infuse into the tomatoes. Until then, I’d love to hear how you are using the green tomato glut from your garden.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

Subscribe to get weekly updates from Gayla

12 thoughts on “Preserving Green Tomatoes

  1. I just clicked on Canning Tomatoes: 3 Recipes and wound up buying Well-Preserved by Eugenia Bone kindle edition … boiling water, sticky fingers & small electronic devices – what was I thinking?

  2. Bre: I am a terrible enabler.

    Karen: I don’t find them bitter, but you could cut that with sweetener of some kind. The sweet pickle would be a better option for you.

  3. They get cooked in the canning process. 10 minutes of processing. The belief that they are poisonous is a bit unfounded. Quantity is also a factor.

  4. Ciao Gayla-

    I’ve made Lemon-Ginger Green Cherry Tomato Preserves before and Duane eats them like candy – although he really ought to watch his sugar. I’m thinking Salsa Verde for the last of the green tomatoes. I’m not quite there yet, lots of them coming in with blush that have a fighting chance still of ripening.

    It was so awful today that I took to sifting through my seed stash (ALREADY???). The good news is that even with the rain and the wind, it doesn’t look like frost is immediately in our future. Let’s hope not. I still have lots of budding flower stalks on my Pineapple Sage that I’d love to use in a batch or two of jelly.

    I got rid of the glut of rhubarb over the weekend. It’s been screaming at me from the downstairs fridge for at least a week. I had ripe tomatoes screaming louder, so I tried to ignore them. They’re now part of Rhubarb Conserve, Rhubarb-Orange Jam, and Rhubarb-Apricot-Date Chutney.

    I’m STILL getting green beans and summer squash if you can believe it. Crazy year.

  5. Last summer (here in Australia) it wasn’t particularly hot. Normally I’d only have few kilos of greenies, but this year most of my tommie crop didn’t ripen naturally, so I made batch after batch of green chutney (along with plenty of red too).

    The green chutney recipe is a rippa! My larder is almost out of the now treasure remaining supplies!

    And now for us, Spring has finally sprung and the tomatoes are just being planted for the oncoming summer.

  6. I just went and picked what I hope is the last of my tomatoes. Never thought I would be saying that in my lifetime. But, really 70+ plants for two people were way too many!
    Thanks for the recipes.

  7. Good to know, thanks Gayla! I made a batch of these last night, ad can’t wait to give them a try. Glad they won’t go to waste.

Comments are closed.