Green Tomato Pickles and Spicy Ginger Pickles

by Rebecca McKinney, Academic Program Director, Sustainable Agriculture
Culinary Institute of the Carolinas at Greenville Tech


Summer vegetables can be enormously productive in September through early November. Some years, my tomatoes have had hundreds of green fruits on them right before our first frost.  The fastest way for me to preserve the end-of-season of tomatoes, peppers, squash, and cucumbers is pickling.


Green Tomato Pickles

Pickling works especially well for green cherry tomatoes. So many tomato recipes are based on pecks or bushels – but here’s one that’s great for small batches and easily adaptable for larger quantities, based on a version available at  If you leave out the dill and peppercorns, this recipe also can be used to pickle peppers.   



If you’re using green currant or cherry tomatoes, pickle them whole.  For larger green tomatoes, cut them into wedges.  For each 1 lb. of green tomatoes or 2 pints of pickles, you’ll need:

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup water

1½ tsp sea salt (or pickling salt; you just need to avoid salt that has anti-caking additives)


In each hot, sterilized pint jar, place:

1 tsp dill seed

2 garlic cloves

¼ tsp peppercorns



  1. Combine vinegar, water, and salt and bring to a boil. Turn off.  This is your brine.
  2. Pack stemmed green tomatoes or wedges into the jars. Pour brine into the jars. Use a wooden spoon or chopstick to remove the air bubbles and add additional brine if necessary, to ½” of the rim. Wipe rims, apply simmered lids, and screw on the bands.
  3. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes. When time is up, remove jars from canner and let them cool on a towel-lined countertop (8 hours or so). When jars are completely cool, remove rings and test seals by grasping the edges of the lid and lifting the jar. If the lids hold fast, the seal is good. If they don’t, refrigerate immediately.
  4. Store in a cool, dark place.  They can be eaten after a week, but are best if left for a month before opening.  Store in refrigerator after opening.



Spicy Ginger Pickles 

For cucumbers and squash, I start with the Ball Blue Book bread & butter pickle recipe, but adapt it to my own tastes.  I use grated, fresh ginger and turmeric from my garden, and add hot peppers.  The brine recipe also can be used in making watermelon rind pickles.


Pickled squash

Ingredients for 4 pints:

2 pounds cucumbers, squash, or a combination, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1 pound onions, thinly sliced

1/6 cup sea salt or canning salt

1 cup brown sugar

1 TBSP mustard seed

1 TBSP freshly grated turmeric

1 TBSP freshly grated ginger

½ tsp peppercorns

4 small hot peppers of your choice (I use 4 Rooster Spur or 2 cayenne peppers, halved)

1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar



Combine cucumber and onion slices.  Layer with salt in a large bowl.  Cover with cold water and ice cubes. Let stand 1 ½ hours.


Drain and rinse twice to remove as much of the salt and excess water as you can. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large saucepot and bring to a boil. Add drained cucumbers and onions and return to a boil. Pack the hot vegetables and liquid into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Make sure that each jar contains peppercorns and a hot pepper (or pepper half).  Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.


Rebecca McKinney, a long-time CFSA supporter and member, is Academic Program Director for Greenville Technical College’s Sustainable Agriculture Program and Executive Director for SC Organization for Organic Living (SCOOL).  SCOOL produces an organic growing conference in late winter/early spring each year.  Rebecca and her husband, Jay, enjoy growing, cooking, and preserving much of their own food.
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