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Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Green Tomatoes: Making Sweet Pickle Relish with Tomatoes That Will Not Ripen

Green Tomato Sweet Pickle Relish

When the calendar turns over to October, I feel prompted to save as much of the high summer garden as possible. Many vegetables will stay good through the month and even into November. However, veggies like tomatoes and cucumbers rarely last in the garden beyond the first week of October in my area.

I have been picking a pail or two at a time of tomatoes for the last half of September. Last night was very cold, meaning that it was now time to harvest all of the remaining tomatoes, every last one. Today, I was able to harvest about half of an ice cream pail full, about enough to make this year's sweet pickle relish.


Some of the garden tomatoes that I've been harvesting are in the ripening phase.



Others are still fully green but have potential to ripen.



But the last third of the tomatoes don't look like they will ripen. Instead, they will likely turn brown from blight and become unusable. 



Many of these tomatoes are quite small, about the size of a marble or smaller. Itty bitty green tomatoes are still useful if cooked right away. They can be made into mock mincemeat, pureed and added to cake recipes, or as I do, made into either a sweet pickle relish or a dill and garlic pickle relish

Today, I chose to make the sweet pickle relish. 

pieces of green tomatoes and onions just prior to cooking


Green Tomato Pickle Relish
time to make: about 1 and 1/2 hours
yield: about 3 half-pints

2 cups finely chopped green tomatoes
3/4 of a large onion, finely chopped
1/3 of a large red or green sweet pepper, seeded and finely chopped
3/4 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
scant 1  1/2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 of a stick of cinnamon, broken into pieces
10 whole cloves
1 tablespoon of pickling spice


  • Wash and trim stem ends off of green tomatoes, trim away any blemishes.
  • In a food processor, chop the tomatoes until pieces are about the size of commercial relish bits. Measure the chopped tomatoes and adjust recipe to suit the amount of tomatoes. Put chopped tomatoes into a large colander over a bowl.
  • In a food processor, chop the onion until pieces are similar in size to the tomato bits. Add the chopped onion to the colander with the tomatoes. Chop the pepper in the same manner and add to the colander. Allow the vegetables to drain for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, prepare jars and lids.
  • Tie up the pieces of cinnamon, cloves, and pickling spice in a square of muslin or cheesecloth.
  • In a stainless pot, combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt. Add the bag of spices and heat over Med-Low, stirring occasionally.
  • When vegetables have drained for 20 minutes, add them to the pot of spices and liquid. Bring to a boil, stirring continuously. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, stirring often, until vegetable pieces are tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Once tender, remove the bag of spices and fill sterilized jars, seal, and process for 15 minutes if at 0-6000 ft above sea level or 20 minutes if above 6000 ft. (The National Center for Home Food Preservation indicates that a boiling-water canner is sufficient for pickle relishes and provides timing according to elevation in a table on this page. In addition to the information concerning pickle relish timing, the NCHFP also has a good page about the process for using a boiling-water canner, in case you are unsure.)

The peppers in the recipe are nice to have. However, most years I only have the green tomatoes and onions, so I make the relish without peppers. As it is, this relish is quite delicious.

You know -- waste not, want not. The next time I'm mixing up some tuna salad, or fixing a hot dog or hamburger, or making chicken salad, I'll be grateful that I used those itty bitty green tomatoes.


You'll find this post, and many others like it, on this page, a compilation of my recipes, shopping lists, and menu plans that illustrates how I feed my family of 4 adults on $125 to $135 per month.


4 comments:

Kris said...

Yum! I love relish! That's a great idea. I always think of your growing season as longer than ours so I was surprised to learn that you had to pick your tomatoes. We will have to do that later this month but I know my husband will wait as long as possible.

live and learn said...

I love relish, too, but my family doesn't like it. One small jar can last quite a long time here. Do you like fried green tomatoes? I remember canning many quarts of green tomatoes to be used in the winter that way.

Lili said...

Kris said...
Yum! I love relish! That's a great idea. I always think of your growing season as longer than ours so I was surprised to learn that you had to pick your tomatoes. We will have to do that later this month but I know my husband will wait as long as possible.


Hi Kris,
I think in general, our growing season is longer than yours, but our warm weather season is shorter. Tomatoes in our area succumb to blight from cold rains that happen every September. From what I hear in other areas, it's usually frost that gets tomatoes. I did leave the plants in the ground, though, just in case a few more green tomatoes appear. I can use those in something else, if I'm lucky enough.

Lili said...

live and learn said...
I love relish, too, but my family doesn't like it. One small jar can last quite a long time here. Do you like fried green tomatoes? I remember canning many quarts of green tomatoes to be used in the winter that way.


Hi live and learn,
I love fried green tomatoes. But I only occasionally make them. The frying part is tedious if your tomatoes are small (battering each tomato). So I only make these when I have larger tomatoes. Canning the green tomato slices sounds like a terrific idea.

On another note -- you asked a while ago about not being able to reference the original post, when using this format for comments. I found that if I clicked on the actual title of the post at the top of this page, that it took me to the original post. That's working on a laptop. That may be different working on a smartphone or mobile-enabled tablet, IDK. When I clicked on "Show original post" I got an abbreviated version of the post, not the original page. HTH.

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