someone else’s green tomatoes

I am fond of utilising seasonal produce and this recipe does just that. Green tomatoes are easily found in late autumn at most good markets and green grocers. I was lucky enough to be given some beautiful home grown ones for this batch. It was a mad rush to catch them before they all turned red as I’d been given these at the same time as the cumquats featured in the previous post!  I probably could have made it easier by using the green tomatoes first, but no. Ever a sucker for punishment I went with the cumquats whilst I kept one eye firmly on a rapidly ripening pile of green (and some not so green) tomatoes. At one point, out of desperation to save the tomatoes, I found myself cooking marmalade and pickling at the same time! Luckily I didn’t confuse the salt with the sugar. I will never learn the meaning of moderation.


I’ve used this recipe from Gourmet Getaways a few times now. I think it tipped me over from “moderate granny food enthusiast” into its “crazy cat lady” level equivalent. I liked this recipe because I happened to already have everything I needed…and it came typed on an index card from someone else’s Granny! In my opinion, these are the best kind of recipes!


As I tend to do, for my first batch of these pickles I followed the recipe to a T, I even switched my digital scales from metric to imperial to make it feel more authentic! I’ve used the metric conversions below.


Retro Green Tomato Pickles
  • 1.9 kg green tomatoes, washed 
  • 400 gm onion (~3 medium sized onions)
  • 9 tbs salt
  • 900 gm sugar
  • 750 ml white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup plain flour
  • 3 tbs curry powder
  • 1 tbs turmeric powder

Roughly dice the tomatoes and onions, placing into a pan (with a lid) in layers sprinkled with salt. It’s up to you whether you want to hand cut or use a food processor to get through your tomatoes and onion. I’ve done both and prefer the chunkiness afforded by hand cutting and also the ease of using the food processor…especially when it comes to the onions! This time, for authenticity, I went forth with a knife and cried a thousand onion tears in the process. All for you, guys!


Leave the mix to sit overnight to draw out excess moisture. Definitely, definitely put a lid (or a plate) on your pan unless you want your whole house to smell like pickled onions! I have gone so far as to relegate the pan to the laundry overnight because the smell is THAT strong.

Salting overnight draws out the excess moisture

The next day, carefully drain off the liquid in the pan then scald the mix with a kettle full of boiling water. Do this twice to remove all the salt.

Salty, tomatoey, oniony water

Salty, tomatoey, oniony water

Place the pan on the stove and pour in about half of the vinegar. Bring the mix up to boil over a medium heat and cook for 10 minutes (the recipe suggests using a timer…meh!).

Meanwhile, combine all of the dry ingredients (flour, turmeric, curry) in a large bowl and slowly pour in the remaining vinegar to form a smooth paste (it looks a bit a lot like baby poo…). I decided to add a couple of tablespoons of yellow mustard seeds at this stage and will probably bastardise the recipe again next time with some coriander and/or fennel seeds and green chilli.

After 10 minutes of cooking, take the pan off the heat and add the sugar. I used only (!) 700 grams of sugar this (and last) time because I found the pickle too sweet for my liking. I think it could go down as far as 500 grams, but I’m not sure if that will affect the overall chemistry. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved then slowly add the flour paste, stirring constantly and thoroughly to avoid lumps.

Put the pan back on the heat and cook for another 10 minutes, or until a desired consistency is reached. The pickle is prone to sticking to the pan at this stage so stir constantly.

Take the pan off the heat and allow it to cool a little then pot into (about 4 or 5 large) sterilised jars.

Honestly, it’s not the prettiest pickle I ever did see, but it makes up for looks with flavour and versatility! It seems to go with everything! I love it smeared generously on toast under freshly sliced tomatoes (red ones!) and a crispy fried egg. Om nom indeed.