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How to Make Spiced Green Tomatoes - Easily! With Step-by-step Directions, Photos, Ingredients, Recipe and Costs

How to Make Spiced Green Tomatoes - Easily!

Yield: 4 pint jars

Click here for a PDF print version

Making and canning your own pickled spiced green tomatoes is an excellent way to put up some more tasty tomatoes for the winter and use up the green tomatoes from your garden when you need to pick them before the first Autumn frost comes!

I'll have some photos coming in a few weeks (the day before the first hard frost in my garden!)


  • 6 pounds small whole green tomatoes
  • 9 cups sugar
  • 1 pint cider vinegar (5%)
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice
  • 1 tablespoon whole mace or 1/2 tablespoon ground mace


  • 1 water bath canner (a huge pot to sanitize the jars after filling (about $30 to $35 - $30 at mall kitchen stores and local "big box" stores.  Note: we sell canners, supplies and kits through our affiliates: click here or see the bottom of this page) Tomatoes are on the border between the high-acid fruits that can be preserved in a boiling-water bath and the low-acid fruits, vegetables  and meats that need pressure canning.
  • Pint canning jars (Ball or Kerr jars can be found at Publix, Kroger, Safeway and local "big box" stores - about $13 per dozen 8-ounce jars, more for quilted design or larger jars, including the lids and rings).  Be sure to get wide mouth jars to fit the pickles in!  Pint size works best! 
  • Lids - thin, flat, round metal lids with a gum binder that seals them against the top of the jar.  They may only be used once.
  • Rings - metal bands that secure the lids to the jars.  They may be reused many times.
  • Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars) 
  • Lid lifter (I like the lid rack that holds 12 lids or you can pull them out one at a time with the lid-lifter that has a magnet from the almost-boiling water where you sanitize them. ($4 at mall kitchen stores and local "big box" stores, but it's usually cheaper online from our affiliates)
  • 1 large pot.
  • Large spoons and ladles,
  • Jar funnel ($3-Grocery stores, like Publix, Kroger and Safeway and local "big box" stores; sometimes even hardware stores)

Directions - Step by Step

Step 1 - Select the tomatoes

Small green paste, Roma or plum tomatoes are suitable for this pickle.

Step 2 - Wash the tomatoes 

Wash the tomatoes in a colander under running cool water.

Step 3 - Remove the skins

Here's a trick you may not know: put the tomatoes, a few at a time in a large pot of boiling water for no more than 1 minute (30 - 45 seconds is usually enough)


Plunge them into a waiting bowl of ice water.

This makes the skins slide right off of the tomatoes!  If you leave the skins in, they become tough and chewy.

BUT... I'll be the first to tell you that this works much better with ripe tomatoes that green tomatoes.  If you can't get them off... don't sweat it, just move on to the next step. The trick is using very hot boiling water in a large pot, a few tomatoes at a time, and lots of ice.

Step 4 - Make the syrup / packing solution

Make a syrup of the sugar, vinegar and spices:

  • 9 cups sugar
  • 1 pint cider vinegar (5%)
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice
  • 1 tablespoon whole mace or 1/2 tablespoon ground mace

Step 5 - Cook the tomatoes in the syrup

Drop in the whole peeled tomatoes and boil them until they become clear (about 10 to 20 minutes)

Step 6 - Pack the jars

Remove the tomatoes from the syrup, using a slotted spoon and gently pack the tomatoes into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Don't pack too tightly.  SAVE THE SYRUP - don't discard it!

Step 7 - Strain the syrup and add it to the jars

Now strain the syrup and use it to fill the jars, covering the tomatoes with the syrup, again leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed.

Step 8 - Seal the jars

Wipe the rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; adjust the two-piece metal canning lids. Then "Process" - boil the jars for 15 minutes in a Boiling Water Canner, being sure the tops of the jars are covered by 1.5 to 2 inches of water. Longer (see the table below) if you are above 1,000 ft in elevation.

Recommended process time for Spiced Green Tomatoes in a boiling-water canner.
  Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size 0 - 1,000 ft 1,001 - 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
Hot Pints 15 min 20 25

Step 9 - Remove the jars and cool

Using your jar tongs, gently remove the jars and set them to cool in a draft-free area. I let them cool on a wooden cutting board or a towel,  without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight), here they won't be bumped.

After cooling, you can then remove the rings if you like, but if you leave them on, at least loosen them quite a bit, so they don't rust in place due to trapped moisture.

Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. Some people replace the lid and reprocess the jar, then that's a bit iffy. If you heat the contents back up, re-jar them (with a new lid) and the full time in the canner, it's usually ok. You're done!

Step 10 - Done!

That's it.  You can eat them right away or wait a week for them to develop full flavor.  They should stay good to eat for a year or so, if you keep them in a cool, dark place, like a basement.

This document was adapted from "So Easy to Preserve", 5th ed. 2006. Bulletin 989, Cooperative Extension Service, The University of Georgia, Athens. Revised by Elizabeth L. Andress. Ph.D. and Judy A. Harrison, Ph.D., Extension Foods Specialists.


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