Guide to Canning Green Tomatoes for Frying

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.

Green tomatoes sliced and stacked
Sliced green tomatoes

Preparation for Canning Green Tomatoes

Follow these crucial steps to ready canning equipment and tomatoes to ensure excellent results:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Sort your fresh green tomatoes. Discard any tomatoes that are bruised or show signs of rotting. Remove the stems and leaves.
  4. Wash the fresh tomatoes using cool, running water.
  5. If pickling tomatoes and reserving the skins, cut them into halves or quarters, depending on which size canning jars you prefer to use.
  6. 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.
  7. For canning whole green tomatoes, use a sharp knife to make a shallow, crisscrossed shaped cut at the bottom of each tomato.
  8. 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.
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fresh green tomato

Home Canning Recipe for Green Tomatoes

  • Author: Leo
  • Total Time: 70 minutes
  • Yield: 7 pints 1x


Fried green tomatoes are a classic Southern dish, but one that can only be enjoyed seasonally. This tomato canning recipe saves the tomato slices so they can be breaded and fried later. With this recipe, you’ll never have to wait for tomato season again!


  • 6 pounds medium green tomatoes
  • 7 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons canning salt (optional)


  1. Ensure all canning equipment has been washed with hot water and soap and rinsed well.
  2. Sanitize canning jars by placing them in boiling water for 10 minutes. Keep the jars in the water until they are ready to be filled.
  3. Prepare a water bath canner by filling it half full of warm water. Place it on a stove over medium-high heat and bring the water to a boil while preparing the tomatoes.
  4. Bring a large pot of fresh water to a rolling boil. This will be used for canning liquid.
  5. Sort and rinse the tomatoes under cool, running water. Discard the stems, leaves, and cores.
  6. Slice the fresh green tomatoes with a sharp knife or mandoline into ¼-inch slices.
  7. Pack the green tomato slices loosely into the hot canning jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.
  8. Add 1 tablespoon of bottled lemon juice to each jar. Add 1/4 teaspoon of canning salt, if desired.
  9. Fill the jars using the fresh stockpot of boiling water and a wide-mouth canning funnel, ensuring you maintain the 1/2-inch headspace.
  10. Use a bubble remover tool to remove any trapped air bubbles from the jars.
  11. Wipe the rims of the jars with a damp paper towel and apply new canning lids. Attach the screw bands around each jar and screw until fingertip tight.
  12. Use a jar lifter to load the cans onto the jar rack and carefully lower them into the water bath canner. Add water if needed to get the water level to 1 inch above the tops of the jars.
  13. Once the jars are in the canner, heat the water to a rolling boil and cover the canner with a lid. Process for 40-60 minutes, depending on the size of the jars and your elevation:

Processing time for pints per elevation:

  • 0 – 1000ft: 40 mins
  • 1,001-3,000ft: 45 mins
  • 3,001-6,000ft: 50 mins
  • 6,001ft and up: 55 mins

Processing time for quarts per elevation:

  • 0 – 1000ft: 45 mins
  • 1,001-3,000ft: 50 mins
  • 3,001-6,000ft: 55 mins
  • 6,001ft and up: 60 mins

Post Processing

  1. Once processed, turn the heat off and remove the lid from the canner.
  2. Allow the jars to rest for 5 minutes. Remove the jars from the canner with a jar lifter and place them on a towel-covered countertop to cool.
  3. Do not retighten screw bands. Let the jars air cool for 12-24 hours. You should hear a popping sound as the jars seal during the cooling process.
  4. Once the jars are completely cool, remove the screw bands and inspect the seals.
  5. If the seal is indented and the lid doesn’t flex up and down, the jar is safe to label and store in a cool, dark place.
  6. If the seal isn’t indented, you can use a new lid and reprocess the contents, or put the jar into the refrigerator and consume the tomatoes within 1-2 days.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes


  • Serving Size: 1/2 cup
  • Calories: 28kcal
  • Sugar: 4.9g
  • Sodium: 16mg
  • Fat: 0.3g
  • Saturated Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 6.3g
  • Fiber: 1.4g
  • Protein: 1.5g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

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.

Pickled green tomatoes
Pickled green tomatoes

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. 

Whole canned green tomatoes
Canned green tomatoes

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.


Leo loves growing and eating his own food and has since he was a child in Alabama working in the giant family garden. He still tries to get as much of his own food in the pantry as possible while living in California and working a much smaller patch of dirt. When not gardening or canning, Leo can often be found deep in a good book or playing with his son.

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