Pickled green tomatoes are a crunchy treat.
  • Goldy | The Stranger
  • Pickled green tomatoes are a crunchy treat. (And friends assure me that the pickled green cherry tomatoes work great in martinis.)

On Sunday, I harvested the last of my garden tomatoes before the cold and the rain could rot them on the vine. It was my latest harvest date in years.

I ended up with a good sized bowl of ripe tomatoes of various sizes, and half as many again of those that had started to turn color, and thus offer the promise of ripening on the counter. But what to do with the many rock-hard green tomatoes left over?

Me? I pickle them!

Pickled green tomatoes—sour and crunchy—were a staple of the East Coast delis I grew up with, and you can find a couple decent jarred varieties in supermarkets out here—both Bubbies and Ba-Tampte make a decent product. But they're not cheap, and local gardeners end up with green tomatoes in abundance, so why not make your own?

For my kosher dills and my sauerkraut I use a traditional no-vinegar recipe in which the vegetables ferment in a well-seasoned salt-brine solution, but for my pickled green tomatoes I follow a variation on a recipe I found in a 1950's era Kerr Home Canning handbook:

Green Tomatoes
Green Peppers
2 quarts water
1 quart white vinegar
1 cup salt
1 bunch of dill
Pickling spice

Pack firm green tomatoes (no sign of ripening) into jars, along with pickling spice, garlic cloves, and cut pieces of celery and green pepper (adjust quantities to taste). Make a brine of the water, vinegar, and salt, and boil the dill in it for five minutes. Split up the dill between jars, and then pour the hot brine into them, and seal at once. Should be ready in four to six weeks.

The old Kerr recipe doesn't call for it, but I keep my pickled green tomatoes in the fridge to assure maximum crunchiness. We're just finishing off a jar from last year's batch, so that gives you an idea of their longevity.