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How to Make Pickled Green Tomatoes - Easily! With Step-by-step Directions, Photos, Ingredients, Recipe and Costs

Canning Pickled Green Tomatoes

Yield: 8 to 9 pint jars

Click here for a PDF print version

If you have a surplus of green tomatoes, here's a tasty recipe for making and canning your own pickled sweet green tomatoes.


  • 10 to 11 lbs of green tomatoes (to yield 16 cups sliced)
  • 2 cups sliced onions
  • 1/4 cup canning or pickling salt (available at most grocery stores)
  • 3 cups brown sugar (you could probably substitute honey, but I haven't tried it yet)
  • 4 cups white vinegar (5 percent)
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seed
  • 1 tablespoon allspice
  • 1 tablespoon celery seed
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves


  • 1 water bath canner (a huge pot to sanitize the jars after filling (about $30 to $35 - $30 at mall kitchen stores and local "big box" stores.  Note: we sell canners, supplies and kits through our affiliates: click here or see the bottom of this page) Tomatoes are on the border between the high-acid fruits that can be preserved in a boiling-water bath and the low-acid fruits, vegetables  and meats that need pressure canning
  • Half pint canning jars (Ball or Kerr jars can be found at Publix, Kroger, Safeway and local "big box" stores - about $13 per dozen 8-ounce jars, more for quilted design or larger jars, including the lids and rings). 
  • Lids - thin, flat, round metal lids with a gum binder that seals them against the top of the jar.  They may only be used once.
  • Rings - metal bands that secure the lids to the jars.  They may be reused many times.
  • Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars) 
  • Spice bag - or a 6 inch square piece of cheesecloth or a 6" square piece of a clean T-shirt
  • Lid lifter (I like the lid rack that holds 12 lids or you can pull them out one at a time with the lid-lifter that has a magnet from the almost-boiling water where you sanitize them. ($4 at mall kitchen stores and local "big box" stores, but it's usually cheaper online from our affiliates)
  • 1 large pot.
  • Large spoons and ladles,
  • Jar funnel ($3-Grocery stores, like Publix, Kroger and Safeway and local "big box" stores; sometimes even hardware stores)

Directions - Step by Step

Step 1 - Get the jars and lids sanitizing

Canning jars in the dishwasherThe dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sanitize" cycle; especially if it has a "sanitize" cycle.  I get that going while I'm preparing everything else, so it's done by the time I'm ready to fill the jars. 

Be sure to let it go through the rinse cycle to get rid of any soap!

Lids:  Put the very hot (but not quite boiling; around 180 F, steaming water is fine)
water for at least several minutes. 

Note: everything gets sanitized in the water bath (step 7) anyway, so this just helps to ensure there is no spoilage later!)


Step 2 - Wash the tomatoes in cold water

Wash the tomatoes in plain cold water.

Step 3 - Slice the tomatoes and onion

Slice the green tomatoes and onions. I like 1/4 inch slices; but you could go thinner, if you prefer.

Step 4 - Salt and let stand

Place the sliced tomatoes and onion in a bowl, sprinkle with 1/4 cup salt, and let it stand 4 to 6 hours (counter or fridge).

Step 5 - Drain

Drain and discard the liquid.

Step 6 - Heat the vinegar with the sugar

Heat the vinegar in a pot and stir in the brown sugar until it is dissolved.

Step 7 - Put the spices in your spice bag

Tie the mustard seed, allspice, celery seed, and cloves in a spice bag (if you can't get one, a 6 inch square piece of cheesecloth or white linen works).

Step 8 - Add the vinegar

 Add the spice bag to the vinegar and put in the tomatoes and onions. If needed, add just enough water to cover the pieces.

Step 9 - Simmer for 30 minutes

Bring to boil and then turn down the heat to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring as needed to prevent burning. The tomatoes should be tender and transparent when properly cooked.

Step 10 - Remove the spice bag

Remove the spice bag and discard it. 

Step 11 - Fill the jars

Fill the, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Don't pack too tightly.  Pour in enough syrup to cover the tomatoes and still leaving 1/2-inch headspace

Step 12 - Put the lids and rings on and "process" the jars

Wipe the rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; adjust the two-piece metal canning lids. Then "Process" - boil the jars for 15 minutes in a Boiling Water Canner, being sure the tops of the jars are covered by 2 inches of water. Longer (see the table below) if you are above 1,000 ft in elevation.


Recommended process time for Pickled Sweet Green Tomatoes in a boiling-water canner.
  Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size 0 - 1,000 ft 1,001 - 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
Hot Pints 10 min 15 20
Quarts 15 20 25

Step 13 - Remove the jars and cool

Using your jar tongs, gently remove the jars and set them to cool in a draft-free area.

Step 14 - Done!

That's it.  You can eat them right away or wait a week for them to develop full flavor.  They should stay good to eat for a year or so, if you keep them in a cool, dark place, like a basement.


This document was adapted from the "Complete Guide to Home Canning," Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539, USDA, revised 2009, Reviewed November 2009.


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