Fermented Green Tomato Pickles


Yields 1 quart

By Kate Payne • Photography by Jo Ann Santangelo


Fermented Green Tomato Pickles


For 1 Batch(es)


  • 2 cups filtered spring water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fine sea salt
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dill seeds
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) cayenne powder
  • 12 ounces firm, green (unripe) tomatoes

Fermented Green Tomato Pickles Directions

  1. Combine the water and salt in a measuring cup or pitcher. Stir gently until dissolved. Smash the garlic cloves to remove the skin and drop whole into a wide-mouth glass jar along with the other spices.
  2. Cut a thin sliver of the blossom end (opposite the stem end) off the tomatoes and quarter or halve depending on the size of the tomatoes and the desired size of pickles. Pack the tomatoes into the jar so they fit snugly. Pour the salt brine over the tomatoes to cover them completely, but leaving at least an inch of room from the top of the jar.
  3. Use glass pickling weights or place a clean, 8-ounce jelly jar inside the rim of the pickle jar to keep the tomatoes down in the brine. (The jelly jar may displace some of the brine when first situated, which is fine as long as the tomatoes are still covered.) Place the pickling jar in a shallow casserole dish or on a plate to catch any brine that may bubble out of the top. Cover the top of the jar with a towel or piece of muslin and a rubber band, but make sure the jelly jar rig is not pulled down by the towel and that the towel is not resting in the brine, wicking it away from the tomatoes.
  4. The pickle jar will become cloudy as the microbes do their job, and a dish soap-like foam will form around the base of the jelly jar on top of the brine. Carefully skim off this foam to prevent mold from having a surface area to grow. Begin tasting pickles after they have uniformly darkened from their original vibrant color.
  5. Allow to ferment out of direct sunlight for up to 12 to 14 days in the coolest place in the house where a garlic dill aroma will be welcome. They are ready whenever they taste good, which can be as early as 5 or 6 days into the process.

Recipe notes

If they are too salty initially, allow them to continue to ferment. It is never unsafe at any point to taste the pickles, and the longer they ferment, the more sour they become. When the pickles have fermented to your liking, cap the jar loosely and place it in the refrigerator to halt the fermentation process. The pickles will keep there for a year or more.

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