Green, Unripe Tomato Salad

October seems to be the best moment to look for (or ask for) green tomatoes, at least on my market. I don’t talk about the always-green variety which is very sweet and often striped (I think it’s called sometimes “zebra”). What I mean are completely unripe tomatoes. They are acid, already have a pleasant aroma, but their flavour is still very shy. I started to preserve green tomatoes a couple of years ago when I realised how cheap they were (farmers prefer probably to get rid of the unripe tomatoes very quickly and sell them for almost nothing) and when I decided to recreate the green tomato salad I used to like as a child. Since I didn’t know anyone who did it at home, I looked for recipes on internet and modifying them throughout the years, adding carrots and peppers, I have adapted them to my own taste.

Green tomato salad is very easy to make and its flavour is surprisingly delicate, compared to other vinegared preserves. It never fails to impress those who taste it for the first time, since most people expect it very sour and harsh. The onions make the vinegar brine mellower, the carrots give a crunchy side and together with the peppers, they make the jars look merrier. If you remember the Moomins’ Cucumber Salad, the process of making this one is very similar. As you see on the photo above, green tomatoes quickly become yellowish, but both carrots and red peppers keep their bright colours.

This salad is a great side dish and an excellent alternative to cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce in sandwiches. It is best when served chilled.

Preparation: about 1 hour + hot water bath or another processing method


1 1/2 kg green tomatoes

2 big carrots

2 big red bell peppers

300 g onions

1 liter vinegar 4,5%

600 ml water

200 g sugar

4 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons mustard grains

2 tablespoons pepper corns

2-3 bay leaves

Slice the tomatoes and the onions.

Cut the red peppers in thin strips.

Slice the carrots finely (the best would be to use a mandolin).

Put the vinegar, the water, the sugar and the salt in a pan. Bring to boil and let it on medium heat for 10 minutes.

Pack the vegetables tightly in jars, distributing evenly the pepper corns, the mustard grains and the bits of bay leaves.

Fill the jars until about 80% of the jars’ height.

Pour the hot (not boiling) vinegar mixture over the vegetables, leaving about 2,5 cm space below the lid.

Cover with lids and let the jars cool. (You can leave them overnight).

/At this point you can (after the jars have cooled down)  either keep them in the fridge for a couple of weeks or process as described below and store in your pantry for at least a year!/

Leave the jars to cool.

Place the cool jars into a big pan, bottom lined with an old kitchen towel folded in two (this will prevent the jars from breaking), cover up with hot – but not boiling- water to the level just below the lid. Bring to boil and keep on a very low heat, in simmering water, for around 20 minutes.

Stick on self-adhesive labels, write the name of the salad and don’t forget to mark the date.

NOTE: For the readers who live in the USA, the USDA-approved canning method is different. You can find it described here:

Green Tomato Pickled Salad on Punk Domestics

41 thoughts on “Green, Unripe Tomato Salad

  1. Jeno @ Week Nite Meals

    That is absolutely beautiful Sissi! I was looking at the pickled vegetable we bought a few months back from this hole in the wall restaurant at Austin, and wondering whether it’s still good to eat (it’s never been opened) and we’ve always kept it in the fridge, any ideas?

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you, Jeno. If you have bought vegetables pickled in vinegar (and in glass jars) you can keep them normally for years unopened (and not in the fridge, just in your cupboards). You should open and taste them. If they have a good taste, no mould, they are ok (that’s what I do).

  2. Cooking Gallery

    I’ve never tried green tomatoes, I am very curious now to try them now…! You’re just so good at making preserved delicacies, normally when I make salad, I just dump all all kinds of veggies into a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of ground black pepper and sugar;).

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, CG. It’s just a preserved salad… more like a pickle than a salad.

  3. Charles

    Beautiful Sissi – I love things like this! I so wish I could get green tomatoes here. I’ve never seen them – either in markets or in stores. If you can get more, I hope you can make some green tomato chutney too – it’s delicious! Perhaps I’ll have a visit to the local farm shop this weekend to see if they have any there – I really hope so!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, Charles. I don’t want to discourage you, but I have never seen green tomatoes in France (apart from the “zebra” ones, which are green, but overly sweet and awfully expensive). I buy mine at Turkish stall on my Swiss market (the Swiss don’t sell them either). Since the French don’t do anything with green tomatoes, you have two possibilities: either you ask normal tomato sellers if they are willing to bring you next time green tomatoes (as I said usually they are very happy to get rid of those) or you have to go to ethnic markets (my Turkish vendor told me in Turkey they pickle green tomatoes too, so maybe some other ethnic groups, also in France, sell them?). Frankly, you can also go to poor area markets. I know my Turkish stalls sell these tomatoes mixed with half-ripe tomatoes and this is because people who are poor take them, make them ripe on window sills etc.. Only a minority (like me) pickles them green. I saw several times people picking the riper ones from the heap of unripe tomatoes.

    2. Sissi Post author

      Oh, I have forgotten to say I have made green tomatoes chutneys several times. Some people in my family love them, but I am not a big fan, so I do this salad and something else I will post about very soon :-)

  4. ChopinandMysaucepan

    This is a very interesting salad which I have not even heard of. I’m sure it would be a pleasant suprise for first timers! I’m not sure if I even recall seeing green tomatoes in our local grocers.

  5. Mr. Three-Cookies

    This looks yum, I will love it for sure. Only problem, I haven’t seen green unripe tomatoes around but then I don’t go to markets. I’ve heard that green tomatoes are delicious if battered and deep fried.

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you, Mr. Three-Cookies. I have been meaning to make fried green tomatoes but they always end up pickled :-)
      You are lucky you can buy everything you want in shops. Half (or more) of the fruit and vegetable I like or eat can be found only on the markets. The worst are apples. I have never seen any apple variety I like in a supermarket. Although sometimes there are such beautiful surprises also in supermarkets like aromatic real Hungarian peppers or parsley root that I cannot find on the markets (!).

  6. ping

    Great idea, Sissi. I’ve only had them in chutneys and my neighbor introduced them to me, eaten raw and with some salt…. tastes just like an apple!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you, Ping. I have never eaten them raw… When I think of it it’s strange I have never tasted them without pickling. I must have been unlucky with chutney recipes, but I never liked them with green tomatoes, so I abandoned this way of preserving.

  7. Kelly

    This is such a great idea and so pretty too (the peppers do look merry) and I also like the mustard grains and pepper corns. I haven’t been to market in a couple of weekends – I must have a look for unripened tomatoes… I have had the ‘always green’ variety but possibly not these. Do you happen to know which variety is used in fried green tomatoes? Interesting about the onions mellowing things out – must give this a try!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you, Kelly. Red peppers never lose their colour in vinegar (which is great news because this salad without carrot and pepper looks a bit sad). If you go to the market, ask the farmers. As I told Charles here and in France (I make both French and Swiss markets for different products, I know, I’m crazy…) no one sells it apart from Turks, who sell it as second (or third) category tomatoes. The vendor was surprised when I told him I pickled them (even though they do this in Turkey apparently too), so I suppose most people buy green tomatoes because they are cheap and will become more or less red on a window sill.
      Since fried green tomatoes are an old recipe, I have always assumed they are made with unripe tomatoes too. (I think the always-green variety is quite recent). Onions are sweetish, that is maybe why they mellow the whole brine…

  8. Juliana

    Sissi, I never had green tomato salad…hear a lot about fried green tomatoes though…sounds and looks delicious, mouthwatering…great to have it handy.
    Hope you have a great week :-)

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you, Juliana. I must make fried green tomatoes now that everyone is mentioning it.

    1. Sissi Post author

      Hi Sylvia. If you have never seen them on the market, it means few people (or no one) use them. You should ask the farmers who sell the red tomatoes if they are willing to bring you some unripe ones next time. They might look at you as a crazy person, but I’m sure there will be at least one who will agree!

    1. Sissi Post author

      I’m so happy to learn you know this salad (I shouldn’t be surprised though 😉 I am sure your mum’s green tomatoes taste great! Basically it’s a Polish recipe, I have just added carrots and pepper for the crunch and colour. I am very curious now about your mum’s pickling recipes :-) I hope you will start posting them!

  9. wok with ray

    Thank you for sharing this recipe and process in canning. Canning is something I never learned and I think I should. But I’m not sure why I have some apprehension when it comes to hot water and glass jars. I hope you are having a wonderful week, Sissi! :)

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you, Ray. I have noticed canning and preserving (I mean long-term preserving) in vinegar or with sugar is not popular at all in certain countries… You should try preserving, it’s so much fun to open your own hot sauce any time you want or your own pickles… Have a great week too!

  10. Nami | Just One Cookbook

    Hi Sissi (today I’m very late…)! I did thought you made moomin’s salad again. I was smiling and imagining that you must have been a very gormet child! My son is actually into pickles and he might enjoy this kind of salad just like you. Your cooking style is always unique and different and it’s truly a pleasure to open your page. 😉

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, Nami, for these kind words. You are so sweet! My bad morning mood has changed instantly when I read your compliments.
      When I was a child I loved meat (scary isn’t it?), especially pork and chicken. I also loved hot dishes (used to put lots of chili everywhere) and my favourite snack was buttered bread with fish roe paste. I still love it! I think it’s a good sign when children like strong tastes.

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you, Kankana, for the idea! I have never cooked green tomatoes. I only use them in preserves. I am glad you also like them!

  11. Roxana GreenGirl

    My Grandma used to pickle green tomatoes. When the first frost comes, she’d pick all the unripe tomatoes and pickle them for the winter. Boy, they are so good!
    Over the summer she used to make a green tomatoes dip, i’ll have to buy some green tomatoes this weekend from the farmer’s market and make some, haven’t eaten in ages.
    Thanks for sharing your version, sounds really good!

  12. laurie

    This looks good and I still have lots of green tomatoes in the garden. Now I have to look up my conversion charts so I can see how much of everything in cups. This fall I made and canned salsa verde using green tomatoes instead of tomatillos and it turned out very well.

    1. Sissi Post author

      Hi, Laurie! Thank you. I’m sorry for cups conversion. If it can cheer you up, I’m in the minority and the majority of the recipes I find are in cups an ounces, so I keep on making conversions 😉 I think 200 g sugar is 1 cup, 100 ml vinegar is almost 1/2 cup (125 ml is 1/2 cup). Thanks for the salsa verde idea. Maybe I will try it. I cannot get any tomatillos here anyway.

Comments are closed.