Pickled Green Tomatoes

These pickled green tomatoes are lightly spiced with cinnamon and turmeric and packed in a brine with garlic and lemon zest. The result is a flavorful pickle that’s a little sweet, a little sour, and a whole lotta delicious.

Three jars filled with pickled green tomatoes and a cinnamon stick with two empty jars in the background.

These pickled green tomatoes are gonna garner a place in your pantry as well as your favorite pickle repertoire. They’re perfectly balanced between sweet and sour (with a subtle spiciness tossed in for pleasant measure). And they’re so obscenely easy to make, the most difficult part will be finding the patience to wait a couple weeks before trying them.–Angie Zoobkoff

Pickled Green Tomatoes

  • Quick Glance
  • 40 M
  • 2 H, 55 M
  • Makes 3 to 4 pint (475 ml) jars

Special Equipment: Water bath canner, pint-size jars with seals and bands

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Ingredients

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  • 2 pounds 4 ounces green tomatoes, large ones thickly sliced and small ones halved
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 2/3 cups water
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 to 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 to 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 to 4 strips of lemon zest
  • 3 to 4 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

Directions

  • Prep the tomatoes
  • 1. In a large bowl, gently toss the tomatoes and onion, if using, with a sprinkle of salt and mix gently. Let sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours to draw out any excess moisture.
  • Make the pickling mixture
  • 2. In a nonreactive, medium saucepan over low heat, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and turmeric. Stir until the sugar dissolves and then increase the heat slightly and bring everything to a simmer. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
  • Prepare the jars
  • 3. Sterilize 3 or 4 pint jars (500 ml jars). (For more information, check out the USDA’s Complete Guide to Home Canning.)
  • 4. When the jars are cool enough to handle, drain the tomatoes, discarding any liquid.
  • Fill and process the jars
  • 5. To each jar, add 1 cinnamon stick, 2 garlic cloves, a lemon peel strip, a bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns.

    TESTER TIP: The garlic cloves will take on a bluish grey hue over time. This is a completely normal reaction to the vinegar. If you prefer to not raise eyebrows at the table, first drop the garlic cloves in boiling water for 10 seconds before adding them to the jars to prevent discoloration.
  • 6. Using small clean tongs or clean hands, carefully but tightly pack the tomato pieces into the jars. Add enough of the warm vinegar mixture to each jar until the tomatoes are completely covered, leaving 1/2 inch (12 mm) of space at the top of each jar.
  • 7. Remove any air bubbles by gently tapping each jar on the work surface and sliding a clean butter knife or chopstick around the inside to release any hidden air pockets. Wipe the rims of the jars with a paper towel or a clean damp cloth and seal immediately.
  • 8. Process in a hot water canner for 15 minutes or according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Then let cool.
  • 9. These pickles will keep in a cool, dark place for up to 2 years, but do let them sit for at least 1 month before you try them; they’ll be even better after 3 months. Once opened, refrigerate and use within a week.

Recipe Testers Reviews

What a fun recipe! This is what cooking is all about: Transforming simple, quality ingredients into something else even better. I love how these pickles capitalize on the green tomatoes that might otherwise be left behind. (I’m not from the south, so perhaps green tomatoes are more revered there, but here in Northern California, it was almost difficult to find some!).

The pickles are easy to make and honestly, could be jarred without the entire canning process if stored in the refrigerator and consumed in a shorter time period.

I loved the clean tartness and the crisp-tender texture of the aged pickles, not to mention their stunning gold color. The tomatoes softened a bit during the month-long cure but retained just the right amount of snap. I suppose the flavor is similar to bread-and-butter pickles, but so much better: a slight but present sweetness to counteract the sour pucker, the barest whisper of spice from the cinnamon stick, and the lingering bite of pepper on the finish. Definitely adding this to the annual summer rotation!

I took the recipe advice to blanche the garlic cloves for 10 seconds in order to avoid a blue and grey hue over time. Seems like an easy enough insurance policy!

I had plenty of hot brine and left the pickles cure in the fridge for exactly 1 month before testing the flavors…perfect!

Picked green tomatoes always means the end of the season for me—time to put the garden to bed. My go-to recipe is a traditional French Canadian green tomato "ketchup" served with tourtière (meat pie) at Christmas. But it's always nice to add another green tomato recipe to the list.

I served these pickles at my ladies' book club dinner. When these ladies give a recipe a "thumbs up," it's a keeper. If you don't have a garden, you may have a hard time finding green tomatoes. Try ordering them from a local farmer.

I used a variety of tomatoes from my garden: cherry tomatoes and larger heirloom tomatoes, all cut into largish chunks. After the overnight soak, the recipe came together pretty quickly. One piece of advice? Remember to label the jars 'cause you surely will forget after a few months!

And the ladies's decision? They were happy. The pickles were "Not too sweet and not too tart. They were just right." And I've promised to make a new batch just for them.

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