The Cooking and Canning of Fresh Green Tomatoes

Friday, October 9, 2015

Prepping Late Summer Green Tomatoes

At the end of summer and right before the first frost our tomato vines are laden with tomatoes at all stages of ripening. At a certain point we decide we have to harvest what is left and prepare the beds for winter. This means picking buckets of tomatoes.

In reality we have already eaten lots and lots of tomatoes making fresh salads, adding them to many other dishes or simply roasting them for dinner. I’ve even developed chili recipes with fresh tomatoes. All are delicious ways to eat home grown tomatoes. With the final harvest, it is time to face preserving the remaining tomatoes—green and red.

Many people are not sure what to do with green tomatoes. There is the well-known way of “Fried Green Tomatoes” but you can only eat so many of those. With two buckets of tomatoes, many of them green, I decided it was worth it to try making Green Tomato Sauce and see if it was tasty enough to can and save for later, when we all dream of sunny warm days in the dead of winter.

Classically you peel the tomatoes you use for tomato sauce. I discovered this is particularly important with green tomatoes. Their skin is thick and tough. The way you skin tomatoes is to place them in boiling water for about 60 seconds. For green tomatoes you need to leave them in the water for about three minutes in order to get the skin softened enough to peel. After boiling you need to place the tomatoes in ice-cold water. The process is time consuming but when you are cooking and canning your own home grown tomatoes it seems to be worth it. Just make sure you start early in the day and leave open the remainder of the day so you have the time you need to get the whole process completed. Having someone help you also makes it a lot more fun.

The recipe for Green Tomato Sauce is very similar to what I prepare for a strictly red tomato sauce. The difference is that I added much more garlic and a strong teaspoon of red pepper flakes. I think this helped balance the tartness of the unripe tomatoes. Below is the recipe:

Fresh Green Tomato Sauce for Canning


Olive oil cooking spray

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 garlic cloves, diced

2 small onions

12 cups green and red tomatoes, skinned and roughly chopped

⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes

¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon basil

2 bay leaves


1. Spray olive oil cooking spray in a Dutch oven and add the olive oil. Put on medium-high. Put the garlic in first, browning for 1 minute. Then add the onion and cook for 3 minutes.

2. Place all the tomatoes in the pot, stirring to mix it with the onion mixture. Add all spices.

3. Place the Dutch oven, covered, in a 300 degree oven for 1 hour.

4. Cook for an additional hour uncovered. Thickening the sauce.

5. Remove bay leaves before canning.

Makes 5 pint-sized jars per recipe.  

Helpful Hints: Make sure to prepare your jars properly before canning. It is important to follow the instructions to boil them and the tops. Everything, including the sauce, needs to be hot when you can for proper sealing.

You can fill the jars with the chunky mixture to use as sauce or in other dishes that use stewed tomatoes. If you plan on only using it as sauce puree it in a blender before canning it. Just remember to reheat it before placing it in the jars to ensure a good seal. Or you can always puree it later if you want a smooth sauce for spaghetti.

Enjoy! And Live Vibrant!

Canned Green Tomatoes!

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