Green Tomato Pickles


In the Northeast, waiting for green tomatoes to ripen in October is like waiting for Godot. I am impatient at the best of times, so you can imagine how poorly this exercise in futility sits with me. My husband has managed to convince me to leave a few little clusters of the fruit alone to see if we will get a warm spell, but for the most part, I have picked the stubborn little buggers to use as is. I have already made two rounds of my Spicy Green Tomato Soup with the bigger beefsteaks, but for the little grape tomatoes I wanted to try something different.

A few years ago on a visit, my father-in-law brought a jar of his homemade green tomato pickles. Up to that point, I had no idea you could pickle green tomatoes. Now, I realize that you can pickle a wide variety of foods, some of them more appetizing than others. But I was very taken with the green tomatoes at the time, and enjoyed them in my martinis as well as straight out of the jar. When I saw that we were going to have a lot of green grape tomatoes at the end of the season, I knew I wanted to try pickling them.

Most of the recipes I came across called for at least four or five pounds of tomatoes, and had you slicing, salting, and then boiling them. Since I only had about a quart of little tomatoes, I didn’t want to go through the whole labourious process of properly canning them. I finally came across this recipe for refrigerator pickles that also allowed me to keep my little tomatoes whole, just like the ones my father-in-law had made. It was incredibly simple and straightforward compared to all the other recipes, so I figured it was worth a try.


The Results: What a great way to use up small green tomatoes! These taste much like I remember my father-in-law’s tasting, and they were so simple to make, a caveman could do it. I’ve already eaten three, and I plan on having one in my martini tonight. They are salty and a bit spicy, and the actual tomato retains a little crunch to it, just like a good cucumber pickle. I don’t imagine this single quart jar is going to last very long. I am hopeful that we don’t actually get a warm spell after all, and that I can harvest another quart or so for a second round before the frosts hit.

I tweaked the original recipe a little bit, in that I added a fresh chili instead of dried and I quartered my garlic cloves to get more of a garlic flavour. I also couldn’t manage to wait the full three days to try them, I had to have a taste at two and a half days. Have I mentioned that I am impatient???

Green Tomato Pickles

1 quart small green tomatoes
1 red hot chili pepper
3 garlic cloves, cut into quarters
1 bay leaf
1 quarter celery stalk
2 cups water
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 cup salt

Wash tomatoes and place in quart-sized glass jar. Cut chili pepper into quarters and add to jar with all seeds. Add garlic, bay leaf and celery stalk.

In a small saucepan, bring water, vinegar and salt to a boil. Add to jar. Seal tightly and let sit at room temperature for three days. After opening, store in refrigerator.

That is it. Really, truly, that is all there is to it!

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  1. Lynn @ I'll Have What She's Having says

    I picked some green cherry tomatoes last week because we were supposed to get frost here. I was hoping they would ripen on a windowsill, but that doesn't seem to be happening. I think I'll be pickling them!

  2. Sommer J says

    Hehehe I love that you are so impatient- i am, too!! These will go nice on a sandwich I am guessing; but also nice on their own. This sounds delicious, never had the luxury to find green tomatoes. I've tried growing tomato plants- big fail :(

  3. Karen says

    I pickled some green tomatoes earlier in the season, but I'm glad to find this recipe where no canning is involved. We picked the garden last night because frost was coming, so I have a counter full of green tomatoes!

  4. Susi says

    I've never had pickled green tomatoes but after looking at your great pictures and reading your post I'm craving them big time! Fantastic idea :o)

  5. gringarl says

    If it would be up to me I'll pickle most of the vegetables, but I'm the only one that eats them In time I made less and less, this year I pickled only 2 jars of cucumbers and 2 of bell pepper stuffed with cabbage and I'm thinking of pickling some roasted peppers

  6. Chef Dennis says

    when the end result is that good, its hard to be patient! Thanks for sharing a wonderful way to use our green tomatoes!

  7. The Enchanted Cook says

    Carolyn – WOW beautiful pics and this just sounds so easy to do, too! I'm a martini gal, too, so this is right up my alley.


  8. The Mom Chef says

    See, I saw what looked like a glass of vodka and got all excited. Wouldn't it be an awesome recipe to pickle tomatoes with vodka included? These look good too….but vodka? :)

  9. Lauren Zabaneh says

    Oh I hear you on waiting for those darn tomatoes…or waiting and waiting and then those nasty green worm thingys eat them!

    this is such a cool idea! I didn't know you could pickle them either. The Hubs LOVES martinis and loves tomatoes, this would be a drink for him. Me? well, I'm more a cosmo girl.

    Love the pictures too. really pretty. I love that color green.

    I'm curious as to what you were going to email me about…those pumpkin bars perhaps?

  10. Stella says

    Nice, Carolyn! I would have picked these and done this too (smile). Ooh, and it's Spring in terms of gardening down here. I'm going to find out if that kind of pretty shaped tomato grows well down here…


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