Sweet and Crispy Green Tomato Pickles

Green Tomato Pickles Poster

My dad was hinting (repeatedly) that some sweet green tomato pickles from those tomatoes out back sure would taste good.  Sadly, I’ve never pickled or canned anything – even sadder, I don’t even own any Ball canning jars. Not even for decorating.  Shocking, I know.

Finally I relented and said I would make them, if I could find an easy recipe that didn’t require a canning process. And they had to be sweet and crispy. He agreed. He’s a brave one, my dad – even if I make something that’s really no good (which is rare, thankfully), he’ll still try to eat it. Not me. No way.

I looked for recipes I thought I could adapt to create my own bit of summer joy in the kitchen.

Green Tomato Pickles in Jar

When ripe, these Mr. Stripey heirloom tomatoes have a wonderful, naturally sweet and mild, juicy taste. See my “First Day of Summer” post with the BLT’s made with Mr. Stripey’s.

Of course, you have to let these pickle babies cure in the refrigerator for at least three weeks before you eat them. I made these around Father’s Day, so they would be ready around July 4th. So, I waited three long weeks to see if these wonderful tomatoes would magically turn into wonderful pickles for me!

My recipe for one quart jar actually made two jars – one large and one medium – due to the extra veggies I added. Just so you know, if you do this, you’ll need to adjust the ingredients to make more brine – or just start with a double batch of brine, so you’ll have extra if you need it.

Sweet & Crispy Green Tomato Pickles

Time including Preparation and Cooking: Approximately 1 hour

(It took me an hour and half with stopping for photos…and tea 😉 )

Ingredients for 1 quart jar:

Approximately 1/2 pound of green tomatoes (2-3 medium to large)

(I used 1 large and 2 medium Mr. Stripey heirloom tomatoes that were still green, firm but fully formed)

2-3 sweet mini-peppers, seeded and cut into strips for added color (optional)

1 small to medium sweet Vidalia onion, cut into wedges, adding more sweetness and flavor

4 cloves garlic, peeled and halved or quartered

Vegetables in basket

For the Brine:

1 1/4  cups water

1 cup white vinegar (5% acidity)

1 Tablespoon salt (I used Pink Himalayan salt but you could use Kosher or Pickling salt)

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

Pickling brine ingredients

For Basic Pickling Spice Mix:

4 teaspoons of McCormick Pickling Spice

(this has everything you need in it, so you don’t have to buy tons of spice jars you won’t use up – it has cinnamon, allspice, mustard seed, coriander, bay leaves, ginger, chili peppers, cloves, black peppercorns, mace, cardamom, and sulfiting agents)

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Pickling spices

Prepare the Vegetables:

Chopped green tomatoes

Wash, dry, and cut tomatoes, onions, and sweet peppers in half and into wedges

Peel and cut garlic cloves

Put tomatoes, onions, peppers and garlic in a sterile quart size glass jar, packing it tight

Sprinkle the pickling spice mix over all in the jar

Chopped veggies with spices in jars


Prepare the Brine:

Pickling brine cooking on stove

Put brine ingredients in a non-reactive pot (I used stainless steel Revere Ware) and bring to a gentle boil.

Stir until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved.

I let it cool for 5-10 minutes before I poured it into the jars, since it was time for Mom’s snack, and I was ready for a break, too.

Tea Break

Pour brine into jars, leaving about a half inch headspace.  Garden Betty (see Resources below) suggests using a chopstick to move things around in the jar, to release any trapped air bubbles. I didn’t have any chopsticks on hand, so I improvised with the other end of a honey wand.

Pickles in Jars

Since I didn’t want soft pickles, but simple and easy, crisp refrigerator pickles, and the quickest and easiest possible recipe to make one quart, I stopped here.  If you want soft pickles, you will want to continue with the water bath canning method in Garden Betty’s recipe (see resource at end of post.)

From here, I let the pickles cool a bit, put the lid on gently (not too tight until it cooled completely) and refrigerated for three weeks before trying them.

While I waited, I made some cute little labels for them, in hopes they would be magically wonderful!

Jar of Green Tomato Pickles with Label

You can download the pickle labels and print them on Avery  square labels 22816 or any 2″ square label sheet with 12 labels.

Download Pickle Labels

Jar of Green Tomato Pickles with Label

Three Weeks Later…

Well, I don’t know about magically wonderful, but they did turn out surprisingly good!  I actually liked them.  They were sweet and spicy with a crisp tartness.  What did I know?  I’ve never had green tomato pickles, so I asked my expert taster.  Dad said they tasted good, even if they were crisp and harder for him to chew. But as easy as these were to make without the canning process, I’d make them again. It’s a great way to use up those green tomatoes, and they go great with grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup!

Green Tomato Pickles on Plate

If you try them, let me know how you like them!

veggies in basket


Thanks to Garden Betty for helping me figure out this whole pickling process! You’ll find several different spice mix combinations in her lovely post here:

Four Ways to Pickled Green Tomatoes


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