Appetizer Condiments

Pickled green tomatoes

Pickled green tomatoes DSC8546

There was a day back in June when I was driving my mom’s car around the Brazos Valley. I didn’t have a destination, I was simply enjoying the quiet country roads, a big blue sky and those Texan clouds that look like fluffy dollops of whipped cream. It was a pleasure.

Back when I lived in Texas, driving wasn’t as fun, it was simply a means to an end. But since I don’t drive in New York City and probably get behind the wheel only four or five times a year, it’s become a peaceful pastime. And so whenever I’m home, I drive as much as I can.

That day I probably put over 200 miles on my mom’s car. But wear and tear on her car aside, I found those miles well spent. See, when you don’t really have much of a destination, driving can be soothing and meditative. And as I motored along, I thought a lot about Texan cuisine.

Pickled green tomatoes | Homesick Texan

“How would you define Texan food, exactly?” people will ask me. And I’ll reply that it’s Tex-Mex, barbecue, chili without beans and a plate of chicken-fried steak smothered in cream gravy. But it’s also gas-station beef jerky; a pot of freshly picked black-eyed peas; a kielbasa sausage smothered in sauerkraut; a bowl of carne guisada served with flour tortillas; A Viet-Cajun crawfish boil; and a corny dog eaten at the State Fair. I could continue, but I reckon my point is that the rich diversity of cultures that inhabit our state makes for a most unique regional cuisine.

I ended that day in Tomball, a small town north of Houston that’s within spitting distance of my mom’s house. I’d heard a lot about a new restaurant there called Bootsie’s that is owned by chef Randy Rucker. Now, Rucker’s spent time cooking in some pretty high-end places across the nation, but he’s from Tomball and wanted to open a café in his hometown, a place that offered Texan home cooking with fresh, local ingredients.

When I arrived at the restaurant by myself, looking a little haggard after a day in the car, the hostess ignored my road-worn state and greeted me with a big smile and a hearty, “Howdy.” After seating me at my table, she presented me with a bowl of pickled green tomatoes and said, “We made these this morning. Enjoy!”

They were crisp and cool and after a day of eating ice cream, fried catfish, hamburgers and brisket, were just what I needed. I hadn’t asked for the pickles nor had I asked for a smile, but the warm hospitality to a stranger was well received. And that gracious moment is what Texas food means to me.

Pickled green tomatoes | Homesick Texan

Green tomatoes are simply unripe tomatoes. Now that it’s the end of the tomato season and if you’re stuck with a bunch, I highly recommend these tangy, slightly spicy pickles. They go well on sandwiches, with barbecue, grilled meats, on hot dogs or simply straight out of the jar.

Pickled green tomatoes DSC8546
4.72 from 59 votes

Pickled green tomatoes

Servings 2 pints
Author Lisa Fain


  • 2 pounds green tomatoes (about 4 or 5), thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeño chile, stems removed, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon dill seed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons sea salt

Special equipment

  • 2 wide-mouth pint jars or 1 wide-mouth quart jar sterilized


  1. Evenly distribute the sliced green tomatoes, sliced jalapeños, cumin seeds, peppercorns, celery seed, dill seed and garlic into the jars. In a saucepan, bring to a boil 1 cup of water, the vinegar, and sea salt. Pour the boiling vinegar mixture into the jars leaving a bit of headspace. Cover with lid and fasten with rings. Allow to cool and then refrigerate. They will be ready after 4 hours and will last for 1 month in the refrigerator.

  2. Alternatively, you can place the covered jars in a canning pot or stockpot, cover the jars with water, bring to a boil and then cook on high for 10 minutes. Remove the jars with tongs and then allow to cool. If you are processing this way, make sure that your lids have never been used before, as they will only seal once. These jars will not require refrigeration until after opening.

  1. First of all, those pickled tomatoes look so fresh and tasty!

    Second of all, I totally agree about driving. Whenever I have to actually go somewhere, it can be a hassle, but when I just get to hit the open road, it's great. Texas is a wonderful place for a good road trip!

    And how cool that you were in Tomball! I've got family there and am constantly tooling around that town. 😀

  2. DessertForTwo

    Such a beautiful, well-written post.

    Most people forget Kielbasa and sauerkraut is Texan cuisine! We have a lot of Czechs in Texas (I'm actually Czech myself!)

  3. masdevallia

    Inspiring, as usual! I've only heard of (not yet tried) fried green tomatoes. It's nice to have an alternate use for those unripe gems, especially as the first frost approaches. I just got everything together to make tomato jam. This is now in the cue for next week. =) Thanks for all of your recipes. So far, every one has been a complete success.

  4. I love the sound of these, and especially love that there's no sugar. (And if only you lived next door to me, I could give you all the green tomatoes you needed to make them!)

  5. Little Black Car

    I'm right down the road from Tomball: I'll definitely have to try Bootsie's sometime when I'm making a dog food run to Tractor Supply.

  6. This is the perfect antidote for those piles of tomatoes in the supermarket picked unripe and gassed, waiting to turn color.

    Now I'll look for the greenest ones and make pickles.

    Thanks Lisa.

  7. Mary @ stylefyles

    yum, these look phenomenal. I love tomatoes – bet these are great!

  8. Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe

    I am loving this~ another Friday's Favorite!

  9. Celeste

    Green tomatoes are plentiful at the Kroger right now. I might have to try these this weekend. I have this idea that it would be so great to have a slice in a grilled ham and cheese sandwich!

  10. Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti

    I made pickled green tomatoes last year and really enjoyed them. I'll try your recipe this year if I get the chance. Thanks!

  11. SeattleDee

    Hooray for pickled green tomatoes, but I really loved your story. I do agree, Texas is all about smiles and friendly people, and awesome food of incredible variety.

  12. Whatserface

    OMG! I work in Tomball and often lament there there is no good food there. (I mean there is the classic bbq, texmex, stuff that is fine, but nothing more gourmet/fancy )

    I cannot wait to go try this out! Thanks so much! I'm embarrassed that I had to learn about it from someone visiting 🙁

    Love your blog 🙂

  13. Frank Smith

    I so do look forward to your blog in my mailbox. I have never set foot in the Lone Star state, but your reminances of food and time spent there gives me the same "down home" feel as sitting around with my "kinfolk". Hope to sometime sit down to a plateful of CFS or a bowl of "red" with you.

  14. Lisa Fain

    Koci–Isn't driving fun? And Tomball is a pretty neat town–I love the old train depot.

    DessertForTwo–We do have lots of Czechs who've contributed some might fine foods to our state cuisine.

    Masdevallia–Yep, time to do something with the last tomatoes before it frosts!

    Kalyn–Do people usually put sugar in their pickled green tomatoes? And too bad I don't live next door–that would be fun!

    Little Black Car–Tractor Supply! Love that store!

    Tommy–You're very welcome–enjoy!

    Mary–Thank you!

    Sandi–Thank you!

    Celeste–Yes, that sandwich would be a perfect place to slide in a pickled green tomato!

    Pat–They're refreshing, aren't they?

    SeattleDee–It is–at heart we're a very gracious, welcoming people.

    Whatsherface–You definitely need to check out Bootsie's. It's a little more expensive than other places but the quality is really excellent.

    Frank–Thank you, Frank!

    Steve–Yep, better do something with them soon!

  15. Thank you, Lisa. I still have plenty of green tomatoes on the vine here in NJ. Your post is just in time for this weekend.

  16. You must have read my mind, just yesterday I was trying to figure out what to do with my green tomatoes! I will be doing this Sunday with the rest of my bounty. Thanks!

  17. Lisa, your recipe sounds devine. This time of year makea me so hungry for the chow chow that my grandmother and my mom and dad made. Brings back memories of my parents in the kitchen. There were some things my dad just thought he had to be involved in and anything with peppers out of his garden was
    one of them. He wanted to make sure Mom put enough "heat" in the chow chow. I remember a few arguments in the process. My parents were both quite humorous and just as country as they could be. Not very fancy but beans and cornbread and chow chow makes me hungry right now. Love all your recipes and your stories. Keep em comin !!!

  18. My grandmother adores pickled green tomatoes! She has never set foot in TX, but you'll see them every so often in NY delis. They are awesome on a pastrami sandwich!

  19. Lisa Fain

    Ericka–happy to help!

    Brenda–I'm with your dad–it's much better hot!

    Katie–They would be great on pastrami sandwich!

  20. Anonymous

    These were fabulous! I only made two jars this morning and one is gone with dinner tonight. Hard freeze here tonight. I'm going out to pick all the cherry tomatoes and try them as half sliced green pickled tomatoes. This is definitely a keeper recipe. Thanks! chrisq

  21. Anonymous

    I'm a Texan living abroad and I just found your blog.
    This blog is great, and the last part describing the Texan food is just spot on perfect

  22. I'd drive miles for these too! Whenever we have lived somewhere other than Texas I get cravings for foods just like this. Delicious,these would be wonderful straight out of the jar standing in front of an open refrigerator on a summer day.

  23. Ah, Lisa, at the state fair, it is no longer just a corny dog. I went there this weekend and had myself some fried beer (terrible), a fried frito pie (wonderful), fried bacon (also wonderful) and a huge case of heartburn (terrible). Thusly, I thank you for not talking about fried green tomatoes. I will be making these more favorable alternatives shortly.

  24. hands down, my all time favorite pickled vegetable! We used to eat at Clear Springs Restaurant near New Braunfels and they served a side with their fried catfish and hushpuppies…my mouth is watering!

  25. LimeCake

    i've never ever had green tomatoes let alone pickled ones! this shade of green is marvellous!

  26. The Moose

    This was beautifully written and it made me miss Houston so bad.

    I will give this recipe a try.

  27. As always, a pleasurable read. I love green tomatoes but never thought of pickling them though I've made a spicy hot condiment with them.

  28. Anonymous

    Can I cut the tomatoes in quarters instead of slices?

  29. Lisa Fain

    Anon–Of course you can cut the tomatoes in quarters if you prefer!

  30. This looks so yummy. I will try this on my charbroiled hamburger.

  31. Anonymous

    I know this sounds like a stupid question from Northerner, but green tomatoes are just unripened tomatoes?
    Because I just composted a bunch after the frost. It seemed such a waste.


  32. Lisa Fain

    Jon–Yes, green tomatoes are simply unripened tomatoes.

  33. Paula in Mississippi

    Good morning, Lisa

    Pickled green tomatoes….yummmmm!!! I ran across your recipe while I was searching for a pickled green tomato recipe similar to the one that my grandmother made when I was a very young girl. She passed away when I was six and no one knows what happened to her recipes. This recipe doesn't sound like her recipe because hers was a sweet one. Since I has sooooo many green tomatoes I think I will be trying this one as well.

    Brenda, I just got through putting up some fantastic chow chow!! The best that I have ever made. Gonna put up some more too!!

  34. Donald Rinks

    I have eaten green tomato pickles in several catfish places, both the Kosher-Dill style and the sweet pickled style, both are good, but some places over do the sugar and or the salt, a light hand is the best.
    If you want really crispy pickles, be sure the tomatoes are really green, no sign of even pale pink at the center.
    I like a combo, the kosher -dill with a light touch of sugar, just enough to take the edge off the white vinegar.

  35. Dave Fougeron

    Sorry to say Bootsies isn't there anymore. I'm a native living in Conroe, own your book and follow your blog. Next time your down, swing by our brewery if you would like. Love your recipes!

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