Preserve end-of-season green tomatoes by canning, pickling, jamming, or freezing, as well as a spicy green ketchup or pie filling. Dry salting is another easy, old-fashioned method you may want to try.
To prepare green tomatoes: Wash green tomatoes under running water and transfer to a colander to drain. Remove the core (along with any stem or leaves) using a paring knife. Insert the knife at an angle next to the core and twist the tomato with your hand, cutting in a circular motion around the core to remove a cone shaped piece of tomato. Leave tomato whole or cut into desired pieces according to your recipe. You can also purchase an inexpensive tomato coring tool called a “tomato shark” at a cookware store or restaurant supply store. One pound of green tomatoes is equivalent to 3 medium or 5 small fresh tomatoes, 2½ cups coarsely chopped or 1½ cups purée.
Canned green tomato slices in water: Process green tomatoes as you would red tomatoes. Estimate about 1 pound green tomato slices per pint. Prepare and slice 3/8 to 1/2 inch thick. Ladle a small amount of boiling water into a hot jar. Acidify each pint jar of tomatoes by adding 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, 1½ teaspoons bottled lemon juice, or 1⁄8 teaspoon citric acid powder (double these amounts for quart jars). If desired, also add 1/2 teaspoon salt to each pint jar (1 teaspoon per quart) before filling with green tomato slices. Add raw tomato slices; and then add hot liquid to cover, adjusting headspace to 1/2-inch. Process raw pack green tomatoes in water; pints for 40 minutes or quarts for 45 minutes (at 0 to 1,000 feet). To prepare fried green tomatoes, drain well and pat dry before coating and frying using your favorite recipe. (Canning recipe source: http://extension.psu.edu/food/preservation/safe-methods/tomatoes.)
Pickled green tomatoes: Prepare about 1 pound green tomatoes (small whole, quarters, or thick slices), or enough to fit a sterilized pint canning jar. Before filling jar with tomatoes, add any of the following: 1 garlic clove, 1⁄4 teaspoon crushed red pepper; 1 teaspoon dill seeds or 1 fresh dill head. Pack green tomatoes tightly into jar. In a saucepan, combine 1⁄3 cup white vinegar (5%), 1⁄3 cup water, and 2¼ teaspoons pickling salt. Bring to a boil and pour over tomatoes. Cover jar and store in the refrigerator up to one month. For longer storage, this recipe may be canned. Add pickling liquid to ½-inch headspace. Process pints of pickled green beans in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes (at 0 to 1,000 feet). Makes 1 pint.
Green tomato marmalade: In a stock pot, stir together 5 cups green tomato purée, 3 to 4 cups granulated sugar, 1 thinly sliced large lemon (or 2 small limes), 2 tablespoons peeled and grated fresh gingerroot, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon (or lime) juice, and 1½ tablespoons bottled lemon juice. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring frequently, for 1 hour or until mixture is thick. Makes about 2 pints. Store in the refrigerator up to 1 month. For longer storage, this recipe may be canned. Keep mixture hot while filling jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Process half-pints or pints for 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.
Freezing Green Tomatoes: Prepare green tomatoes and slice or dice them, depending on intended use. Place in freezer safe packaging. For slices that will be fried, for easier removal put freezer between the layers or partially freeze (2 hours) before packaging. For chopped tomatoes, pack tightly and allow ½-inch headspace inside the container for expansion. Seal tightly, label and freeze at 0°F or lower for 6 to 12 months.
Spicy green tomato ketchup: In the jar of a blender, purée in batches at high speed until smooth 16 cups green tomato purée, 2 cups chopped onion, 1 cup seeded and chopped bell pepper and ½ cup seeded and chopped jalapeno or serrano chilies. Pour into a large stockpot as each batch is finished. Repeat until all vegetables are puréed. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook gently for 1 hour. Check and stir sauce every 10 minutes to prevent sticking or burning. Add 3 cups cider vinegar, 1 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon celery salt, 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice, 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne. Stir until well blended. Continue to boil gently, stirring frequently. Alternatively, transfer sauce to a slow cooker to cook unattended on low heat and cover the slow cooker with a splatter screen or cheesecloth to allow ketchup to reduce to the desired consistency. By either method, cook sauce until volume is reduced by 1⁄2, or until ketchup rounds up on a spoon with no separation of liquid. Cool, cover and refrigerate up to 1 month. Makes 2 pints. For shelf stable storage, this ketchup recipe may be canned. Keep ketchup hot while filling jars to ½-inch. Process spicy green tomato ketchup in a boiling water canner (at 0 to 1,000 feet) half-pints or pints for 15 minutes.
Green Tomato Pie Filling: In a large pan, combine 3 cups chopped green tomatoes, 1 cup peeled, cored, and chopped tart apple, ¼ cup dark raisins, ¼ cup golden raisins, 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest, 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, ½ cup brown sugar, ¾ cup granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons water, 3 tablespoons bottled lemon juice, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg, and ¼ teaspoon ground cloves. Heat over medium heat 30 to 40 minutes or until fruit is tender and mixture is slightly thickened. Cool pie filling completely, transfer to freezer safe containers and freeze up to one year. For longer storage, this recipe may be canned. Keep pie filling hot while filling jars to ½-inch headspace. Processing time in a boiling water bath canner for green tomato pie filling (at 0 to 1,000 feet), for pints or quarts is 15 minutes.
Dry salting is a practical and inexpensive way to preserve vegetables. This old-fashioned method was popular in the early twentieth century as an alternative to canning. Many people familiar with the technique consider salted vegetables to be far superior in taste and texture than canned or frozen ones. The heavy salt used in dry salting is out of step with today’s tastes. You might want to try preserving a small amount of vegetables before preserving an entire crop with this method. You may find that learning to use the salted product requires some experimentation. Before using salted vegetables, you usually remove excess salt by soaking in cold water for 2 to 8 hours. You can prepare and serve salted vegetables in the same ways you would as if they were fresh, such as cold in salads, simmered in soups, or prepared as a hot vegetable side dish.
To prepare salted green tomatoes: Prepare 2 pounds firm, unblemished green tomatoes and slice thickly (3/8 to 1/2 inch). Layer tomato slices evenly with 6.4 ounces pickling or kosher salt (do not use table, iodized or sea salt) in a sterilized 1-quart canning jar, pressing lightly without crushing to extract liquid from the tomatoes. Weight the tomatoes and cover the jar loosely. Set aside in a cool, dark place. In 24 hours, if the juices do not cover the tomatoes completely, prepare very strong brine by dissolving 1/4 cup pickling salt in one cup distilled water. Cover tomatoes with brine by at least 1 inch. Store tomatoes in the refrigerator (<40°F) or cool cellar (<50°F). Loosely cover the jar to protect contents from insects. Check the container once a week for a white scum floating on the surface of the brine and remove it immediately, if it appears. Use a clean cover and weight. Keep tomatoes completely submerged in brine at all times during storage. Under ideal conditions, salted vegetables may be stored in the refrigerator up to 6 months.
To remove excess salt from salted vegetables: Rinse salted vegetables under running water. Use in salads, or cook in any recipe that calls for fresh vegetables, including side dishes, soups, and stews. Soak salted vegetables for 2 to 12 hours in several changes of water, until saltiness is reduced to a desirable level. Use 1 gallon of water for each pound of vegetables.
To use salted green tomatoes: Rinse salted green tomatoes for use as a winter salad, dressed with honey-mustard vinaigrette and garnished with roasted nuts. Prepare fried green tomatoes as you would fresh ones for a delicious supper or side dish. Rinse or soak salted tomatoes to remove salt, and dry them on paper towels. Coat slices with flour, egg, and cornmeal, and then fry in oil or fat until crispy and nicely browned. If desired, serve green tomatoes with a chunky red tomato sauce. Finally, salted green tomatoes are delicious when tossed with hot pasta, along with fresh parsley, lemon zest, and mild cheese such as ricotta or mozzarella. Add chicken or salmon if you want a little protein, but keep the flavors simple and fresh—the preserved tomatoes already provide a strong, salty accent.
For more information and food preservation recipes, see the book The Home Preserving Bible by Carole Cancler, New York: Alpha Books, 2012, which is available at Amazon and other booksellers everywhere.