These Fermented Green Tomatoes are a fantastic way to preserve those unripe tomatoes, offering you a delicious condiment with nutritional and digestive benefits.
If you, like many gardeners towards the end of the garden season, have unripe tomatoes hanging on your vines, it's time to do something about that.
The sad reality is that as much as we love perfectly juicy and plump tomatoes, all good things must come to an end.
In this case, we say good-bye to garden fresh tomatoes and welcome in these beautiful lacto-fermented, probiotic-rich tomatoes that you can enjoy all winter long.
❓What are Fermented Green Tomatoes
First, let's clear up a common misunderstanding that green tomatoes are not a variety of tomatoes. And they are certainly not tomatillos.
Green tomatoes are simply regular tomatoes that have not had the chance to ripen yet. Either they have been picked off the vine purposefully mid-growing season or the weather has forced them to be harvested.
Green tomatoes are usually in abundance during season transitions when summer slowly fades into fall. At this time temperatures dip without giving these tomatoes a chance to ripen under the blaring sun.
But that doesn't mean these green tomatoes are a loss. In fact, many prefer fermented green tomatoes over the red tomatoes because they resemble a pickle taste and texture.
Fermented green tomatoes are tangy and firm and crunchy in texture. They accompany any meal perfectly and they are great for digestive health thanks to their beneficial bacteria.
💭Make it Nutrient-Dense: Adding a small serving of lacto-fermented foods at every meal is an easy way to increase probiotic diversity for your gut.
🖤Why you'll love these tomatoes
- Preserve the harvest - one of the best things about fermenting any vegetable is the ability to preserve it in its' prime to savor it at a different season. It's a lovely way to steward the seasonal bounty that we have the privilege to enjoy.
- Save those unripe fruits - speaking of being a good steward - this fermented green tomato recipe is a simple way to salvage those unripe tomatoes off the vine before first frost hits
- Gut-healthy condiment - as with most lacto-fermented foods, it's best enjoyed as a condiment or garnish to balance a healthy meal. That's because fermented tomatoes are rich in gut-healthy probiotics and beneficial enzymes. It's essentially a natural probiotic in food form.
- Easy recipe - this method is super easy and ferments rather quickly. It has the flavor of traditional pickled green tomatoes but comes with so many health benefits and simpler process.
💭Good to Know: Lacto-fermentation is a metabolic process where glucose from food source like unripe tomatoes is converted into a cellular energy producing good bacteria like Lactobacillus.
- green tomatoes: any unripe tomatoes will work but the recipe instructions are specifically for medium-large tomatoes
- fresh garlic: adds wonderful flavor to any ferment, and this one is no different. Once fermented, these are also mild enough to eat on their own.
- chili pepper: I love using whole dried red chili peppers but red pepper flakes works great too
- dill seed and coriander seed: these are staples when it comes to pickling or fermenting vegetables and they add incredible flavor
- fresh dill: this is optional but so good in this recipe
- unrefined sea salt: it's important you use the best salt as that is the key to these truly lacto-fermented green tomatoes
See recipe card for exact quantities and detailed instructions.
- 🕐Time Saving Tip: using warm water will allow the salt to dissolve quicker
- 💲 Money Saving Tip: these green tomato pickles are a great way to save money and preserve the unripe red tomatoes for cooler season
- 🗓Brine Tip: use the leftover brine in salad dressings or use as a starter culture for future ferments; it's also great to repurpose and ferment other veggies once all tomatoes have been consumed.
- 🚫Food Safety: wash tomatoes well and make sure they are dry so you don't introduce any bad bacteria. Never eat anything with mold. Kahm yeast, crinkly white film, is a common and harmless growth but anything that looks fuzzy, pink, blue, or green needs to be tossed.
- Best Lid: use a wide-mouth mason jar lid like these to avoid the rust from metal rings reacting to the salt content.
This recipe gives you very pickle-like finished product. It uses all the flavors from Lacto-Fermented Refrigerator Pickles but it's in the form of a tomato. In other words, you can call these Green Tomato Pickles.
It's the perfect recipe for those random remaining tomatoes on your tomato plants at the end of the growing season.
But here are a few more suggestions to vary this recipe if you have tons of green tomatoes.
Consider adding these to flavor your green tomatoes:
- bay leaves
- celery seeds
- pickling spice
- red onions
- or use green cherry tomatoes instead of the larger tomatoes
The complete printable recipe is below in the recipe card for your convenience.
This Fermented Green Tomato recipe calls for these simple ingredients: unripe tomatoes, fresh whole garlic cloves, red chili peppers, fresh dill, coriander seeds, dill seeds, and unrefined sea salt.
No special canning equipment is needed. This is such an easy recipe and my favorite way to ferment veggies.
Step 1. In a pint-size mason jar, dissolve salt with warm water. Set aside to cool while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
Step 2. Using a quart-sized jar, add coriander seeds, dill seeds, garlic cloves, and red chili peppers to the bottom of the jar. You can crush the garlic cloves or leave them as is.
Step 3. Cut tomatoes in half and remove the stem end. Continue to cut them into quarters, then into smaller wedges.
Step 4. Transfer the tomato wedges into the quart jar with seasonings and pack them in tight. Slip in the sprigs of fresh dill.
💭Helpful Tip: For best results, cut your tomatoes into wedges approximately ½"-1" at its' widest part. This will ensure that it ferments fairly quickly.
Step 5. Pour the brine mixture over the tomatoes, top it with the glass fermentation weight, and loosely cover.
Step 6. Optional: Flip the mason jar on it's head to allow the seasonings to seep down (or to the top when it's right side up). Set aside at room temperature away from direct sunlight for 8 days.
💭Helpful Tip: If there is no room for the fermentation weight in the jar, try again the next day when the tomatoes will soften and you can push them down with the weight to keep them submerged. You may need to pour out excess brine.
Every day over the course of the first 8 days, open the jar to release carbon dioxide. You may also want to set the jar over a dish to collect any brine that spills over.
You'll notice the brine will become noticeably cloudy and the dill and green tomatoes will fade from bright green to more muted colors. That is a normal occurrence during the fermentation process.
Tomatoes that have been cut will ferment faster than if you were to use whole tomatoes. Start taste-testing at around the week-mark and see if they have that tang to your liking.
The tomatoes should still be crunchy and firm yet with a very tangy pickle-like taste. The amount of days of fermentation will vary depending on the temperature of your house.
🔪Helpful Tools & Links
Below are some affiliate links that may be helpful to you as you make this recipe. You can find some of these items cheaper at your local store but it helps to have a link so you know what you're looking for.
- Tools: chef knife, cutting board, fermenting weight
- Ingredients: real salt, dill seed, coriander seed, dried chili peppers
- Storage Supplies: pint-size mason jars, quart-size mason jars, Weck preserving jars, plastic lids for mason jars
This is the best part! That is to actually enjoy these salty tomatoes in all their fermented glory. We love adding a few green tomato slices to our meal as it makes the perfect condiment.
But check out these fun ideas:
- finely mince to top hot dogs or brats (much like sauerkraut)
- dice to add to potato salad or macaroni salad for that extra tang
- garnish fun appetizers like deviled eggs
To store: The best way to store fermented green tomatoes are in a wide-mouth jar with a plastic or glass lid so the metal doesn't erode from reaction to salt. They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
No. Green tomatoes are unripe fruits from the regular garden tomato plant. They are unripe red tomatoes and picked from their vine before they fully ripened.
Green tomatoes, when properly fermented, can last up to 6 months in cold storage like the refrigerator. Toss if fuzzy, pink, blue, or green mold is present.
We love fermented green tomatoes because they make wonderful Green Tomato Pickle recipe. They retain shape and texture and come out perfectly tangy and delicious.
Looking for more fermenting recipes? Here are some ideas:
Did you make this? Please leave a ⭐ rating in the recipe card below and leave a review in the comments. Thank you!💚
Fermented Green Tomatoes
- In a mason jar, dissolve salt in warm water and set aside. In another quart-size jar, add dill seed, coriander seed, peeled garlic cloves, and dried chili peppers.
- Prepare your tomatoes but washing and drying them. Cut in half horizontally and remove the stem end. Depending on the size of your tomatoes, cut them into wedges approximately ½" - 1" thick at the widest part.
- Transfer the tomato wedges into the jar with the seasonings, packing them in tight. Slip the fresh dill into the side of the jar.
- Pour the brine over the tomatoes and dill and place the glass fermentation weight on top. Loosely cover and set aside at room temperature away from direct sunlight to ferment.
- Every day for the next 7 days, open the jar to release carbon dioxide. The brine will noticeably become cloudy. Do a taste test after one week of fermentation and transfer to the refrigerator if tangy to your liking.
- If there is no room for the fermentation weight in the jar, try again the following day. This will allow the tomatoes to soften a bit and you can then squeeze in the weight to keep everything submerged.
- Cut green tomatoes ferment quicker than other vegetables. Do a taste test at 7 days but it's normal for the tomatoes to be fermenting for up to 21 days, depending on the temperature of the house.
- A good rule of thumb in lacto-fermentation is for the brine to turn cloudy. In addition, bubbles should disappear when active fermentation has been completed. Now is a good time to transfer the ferment to cold storage.