Italy’s secret condiment: Pickled Green Tomatoes

My mom has been making pickled vegetables for as long as I can remember, including these Pomodori Verdi Sott’Olio.

As a teen, my sandwiches were layers of prosciutto, mortadella, and mozzarella cheese with a helping of mom’s pickled vegetables stuffed into a crusty bun. Since then, I’ve helped my mom make her pickled vegetables. The type of vegetable always varied, from eggplant and asparagus, to today’s recipe: green tomatoes.

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Writing her recipe out now, I’ve realized two things:

1. It’s a lot easier to make than I remember
2. It’s intuitive and doesn’t fit nicely into exact measurements

How much oil do you need? “Enough to cover the vegetables”. What about salt? Vinegar? “You know, enough to cover everything”. It’s very much an authentic, old-school Italian recipe.

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While my mom and I were fine tuning the recipe, she called her sister in Italy to make sure I had the best possible recipe. We tapped straight into the source: the modern Italian home cook! Along the way we even found out that some in Italy substitute white wine for water. Who knew?

Keep in mind that the “exact” ingredients I list below are approximations and will vary. The classic amount is “enough to cover”, but that can change depending on the width of the bowl and jar you’re using. It’s better to add a little too much salt/vinegar/water/oil than the opposite.

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Find a cool, dark place to store these when finished and you can enjoy them year round in sandwiches and hamburgers, or with different appetizers. Try it on toast with ricotta cheese and roasted ripe tomatoes. Yum.

Don’t be intimidate by all those recipe steps below! Most of it is letting the ingredients sit around (they’re pickling) and draining liquid once in a while.

**Carla’s tip: You can change the seasoning to your preference. Experiment with fresh rosemary or thyme and double or reduce the garlic. These also make unique gifts for the foodie in your life! (Try using 1/2 cup jars).

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Pickled Green Tomatoes

  • Servings: approx 4 cups
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 8 cups (2L) sliced green tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) coarse salt (approx)
  • 3 cups (750 mL) white wine vinegar (approx)
  • 1 cup (250 mL) water
  • 2 or 3 small green, red or yellow peppers and 1 carrot chopped, optional
  • 2 cups (500 mL), olive oil (approx)
  • 6 garlic cloves, cut in slivers or whole
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) dried oregano
  • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) cracked black pepper

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Instructions
It’s not as bad as it looks!

  1. Using a sharp knife trim off any blemishes from tomatoes. Slice the green tomatoes into roughly 1/2-inch slices.
  2. Lay out tomatoes in layers in a large ceramic or glass bowl, sprinkling salt in between each layer.
  3. Cover the tomatoes with a plate and a clean kitchen towel and leave to stand in a cool, dark place for 24 hours.
  4. After those 24 hours, take the tomatoes out of the bowl drain them in a colander. Squeeze tomatoes gently and leave in colander for about 20 minutes more, or until most of the liquid has been drained.
  5. Get out another bowl and mix together vinegar and water. Place tomatoes (and green pepper and carrots, if using) into the vinegar/water bowl, making sure the liquid covers all of the vegetables. Cover with a plate and a dishcloth and set aside for approximately 12 hours.
  6. After these 12 hours, drain the liquid from the tomatoes/vegetables/vinegar/water bowl using a colander.
  7. Keep the tomatoes/vegetables in the colander and place a small plate over them, so that the vegetables are being pressed down (and drained through the colander in the bottom.) Add some weight to the top of the small plate so it adds extra pressure to the pickled veggies (I used a brick). Leave it like this for 3-4 hours.
  8. In a separate bowl, mix olive oil, garlic, oregano and cracked peppers. Blend with a spoon and get ready to pack everything up into jars!
  9. Once the veggies have finishes their 3-4 hour colander draining, stuff them into sterilized preserving jars (1 cup/ 250 mL jars are a good size). Pour the oil mixture over the green tomatoes, leaving 1/2 inch (1 cm) head space.
  10. Make sure that all vegetables are covered with oil mixture and seal tightly.
  11. Don’t be afraid to push the vegetables into jars firmly and remember what I said: these measurements aren’t exact! You might need a little less more more of the olive oil mixture to make sure the veggies are covered and fit well in the jar.
  12. Keep the jars in a refrigerator or cool dark room until ready to use. When you remove vegetables to eat, make sure all vegetables left behind in the jar are covered with oil, adding additional oil if necessary. Keep for 6 months.

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26 thoughts on “Italy’s secret condiment: Pickled Green Tomatoes

  1. Alicia says:

    These are amazing! So easy, and the results are outstanding. Along with the ingredients, the timeline is also very forgiving. Mine had to drain for about nine hours instead of the 3-4, and they came out excellent. What a fabulous way to use green tomatoes. Thank You for sharing, this one is a keeper

    Liked by 1 person

  2. carlamast says:

    Hi Alicia, I’m so glad you tried this recipe. It is a timely family classic that uses up all the garden tomatoes that might have otherwise gone to waste. It also really tests your intuitive culinary skills.

    Like

  3. Maegan says:

    What a gem of a recipe! Thank you so much for sharing this with us, this is an absolute keeper, probably a tradition in our house now!

    Like

  4. Billy says:

    These pickled tomatoes look great! I love them but haven’t made them in a long while – thank you for inspiring me to make them again! Can’t wait to try them at home.

    Like

  5. Mindy Stelll says:

    I may have messed up totally. I added a very few red tomatoes based on the pictures and not the recipe??? Can you advise? Even though I did read the recipe!

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  6. carlamast says:

    Hi Mindy. The pickling process is best with unripe green tomatoes which are usually not so juicy and more tolerant to the pickling process than the ripe tomatoes. I think since you added only a few red tomatoes it should be fine. I’ve never used red tomatoes as I usually work on this recipe in the fall when the green tomatoes are plentiful and the red ones are sparse in the garden. Let me know how it turns out. Best.

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  7. JOYCE MILTON says:

    I would love to make these but first I need to know if I am canning these in a hot water bath or will they be OK out of the refrigerator for 6 months with only being covered in the oil. Also, what is in the oil mixture? Just the last 4 ingredients? The vinegar and water is discarded after soaking? Thank you for your quick response as I would like to get started right aways. I have lots of green tomatoes!! LOL

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  8. maega says:

    I have been making pickled green tomatoes with your recipe for the last few years and it is such a special thing! It is already a tradition, the kids ask for them all year. We like to listen to the oil sink into the packed tomatoes, they speak to you! Thank you for sharing this recipe, or shall I say tradition!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Christian Matter says:

    Great recipe. We first tried this recipe with cherry tomatoes and then with sliced tomatoes. The results in both cases were good. The cherry tomatoes type is ideal as an accompaniment to an apéritif with olives etc. The sliced type is of course good on bread and we found it sensationally good to a raclette (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raclette), With the next batch we`ll add more garlic and oregano and grind the pepper coarsely. Thanks for the recipe.

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  10. Tim B. says:

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe. My mother used to make this every year with the green tomatoes leftover from our garden. She had gotten the recipe from our next door neighbor’s mother who was from Sicily. When my mom passed I expected to find the recipe in her cookbook, but it was no where to be found! The only difference I remember between the two recipes was the addition of small chunks of celery and eggplant, instead of peppers and carrots. Thanks again.

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  11. Mary says:

    Hello there! This is exactly what my dad told me to do. The exact way we have had them my whole life. But my dad had me leave these in the crock on the counter for 24 hours with the salt, then 24 hours with the vinegar solution. Once I squeezed that well, I put them in a colander and put a paper towel over them and they have been draining over night in the frig. So I am about to do the final step this morning and I have a concern. Except for sterilizing the jars and lids.. these tomatoes sat out for 48 hours. This is a worry for me but dad says I have been eating them this way my whole life. He says in the old days people would add more tomatoes day after day in the salt stage until all the green ones stopped coming in. Comments on that?

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  12. Michelle says:

    Sounds delicious. I have a couple questions?
    – Can you please clarify “ Cover the tomatoes with a plate and a clean kitchen towel ”? What isnthe purpose of the plate and towel? Is the plate in the bowl to press on the tomatoes and the towel used as a cover? Is the plate simply a lid? If the bowl has a lid, can I use that?
    – If I am using cherry tomatoes, should I cut in half or thirds?

    Thank you!

    Like

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