Green tomatoes can be preserved either through pickling or canning. Pickling involves brining the tomatoes with herbs and spices and processing them in a water bath canner. Canning uses the raw pack method and a water bath canner to preserve sliced green tomatoes and is ideal for frying.
What is the Best Way to Preserve Green Tomatoes?
Green tomatoes can be either canned or pickled. If you’re looking to save your tomatoes to use as a condiment, as part of a green tomato relish, or as part of a sandwich spread, then pickled green tomatoes are the best choice.
If slices or chunks of tomatoes are desired for use in other recipes, such as fried green tomatoes or green tomato salsa, it’s best to make canned green tomatoes. Canned green tomatoes are versatile and can even replace tomatillos in most recipes, only expanding their culinary versatility.
Preparation for Canning Green Tomatoes
Follow these crucial steps to ready canning equipment and tomatoes to ensure excellent results:
- Wash all canning equipment in hot, soapy water and rinse them well or run them through a dishwasher cycle using hot water. While washing the canning jars, inspect them to ensure they are free from nicks or imperfections that may cause issues with sealing during the canning process.
- Sanitize the canning jars by placing them in boiling water for 10 minutes. Keep the jars hot until the filling is ready for the best results.
- Sort your fresh green tomatoes. Discard any tomatoes that are bruised or show signs of rotting. Remove the stems and leaves.
- Wash the fresh tomatoes using cool, running water.
- If pickling tomatoes and reserving the skins, cut them into halves or quarters, depending on which size canning jars you prefer to use.
- If you wish to can green tomatoes for frying or making green tomato pie, cut the tomatoes into even slices, around 1/4-inch thick.
- For canning whole green tomatoes, use a sharp knife to make a shallow, crisscrossed shaped cut at the bottom of each tomato.
- Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds before shocking them in an ice bath. Remove the tomatoes from the ice bath after 5 minutes. Peel the skins away by pinching the skin between your thumb and forefinger and lifting away from the tomatoes.
How to Add Flavor to Pickled Green Tomatoes
Making green tomato pickles is a simple way of preserving unripe green tomatoes with or without the use of a hot water bath canner.
Use your favorite pickling spices to switch up the flavor in canned or refrigerated pickle recipes, including bay leaf, celery seeds, dill seeds, mustard seeds, or peppercorns.
Add fresh ingredients such as cucumber slices, jalapenos, red peppers, or garlic cloves to make this pickled green tomato recipe your own. Use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar with at least 5 percent acidity to make shelf-stable pickles.
Is Canning Green Tomatoes Safe?
Yes, green tomatoes are safe to can!
Heirloom green tomatoes are more acidic than vine-ripened red tomatoes. The National Center for Home Food Preservation has claimed that all recommended recipes for ripe tomatoes may be used for canning green tomatoes.
It is important to follow all recommended process steps, including adding bottled lemon juice to acidify tomatoes before canning.
What are the Benefits of Canning Green Tomatoes?
There are many health benefits to canning or pickling this seasonal treat aside from being able to enjoy them year-round! When deciding whether to let your tomatoes ripen on the vine, consider these benefits of green tomatoes:
- Canned green tomatoes contain flavonoids, which help reduce free radicals
- Green tomatoes, like other veggies, are a great source of dietary fiber and help support gut health
- Green tomatoes are full of vitamin K, which helps maintain strong bones
- Green tomatoes have twice the vitamin C of red tomatoes, helping to boost the immune system
- Pickled and canned green tomatoes contain beta-carotene, which supports eye health
Is Pressure Canning or Water Bath Canning Better for Green Tomatoes?
Water bath canning is the preferred method for green tomatoes. The added acidity from the bottled lemon juice means pressure canning is not required.
Many homesteaders prefer water bath canning over pressure canning, as pressure canning can result in mushy tomatoes through accidental overprocessing.
How Long Do Canned Green Tomatoes Last?
Canned green tomatoes have a shelf life of 18 months. For the best quality, it is recommended to consume canned tomatoes within 12 months. Store canned green tomatoes in a cool, dry environment away from direct sunlight for maximum shelf life.