Making the Most of Green Tomatoes


Night-time temperatures here have been hovering in the 40s, with a possible dip into the 30s this weekend. As the chance of frost grows ever nearer, I’m eyeing those green tomatoes out there and making lists of things to do with them. I got too few tomatoes this year to waste a one, even if it is green, and as much as I love fried green tomatoes, I need a little more excitement.

Some of the best green tomatoes are worth wrapping in newspaper and putting in the basement. They’ll ripen slowly and make for fresh garden tomatoes at Thanksgiving, but I’m really in the mood for something different, something special to honor these late ‘maters in all their green glory. After all, I will really be missing green anything by the middle of January, and there are so many things fun things to do with green tomatoes. I’m pondering my options.

Green tomato relish, green tomato pickles, green tomato mincemeat pie, green tomato jam, green tomato soup, green tomato bread….. I’m actually leaning toward the green tomato mincemeat because that sounds so different and interesting. I found a recipe for green tomato mincemeat in an old Mother Earth News. It started with eight quarts of green tomatoes. I don’t have eight quarts. Here’s my pared-down version, with a few changes from the original. If you have more green tomatoes, the recipe could easily be increased.

NOTE: See update at the bottom of this post before making this recipe.

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How to make Green Tomato Mincemeat:

2 quarts chopped green tomatoes (fine or chunky, however you like it)
1 cup raisins
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 orange, chopped, peels and all
1 small lemon, chopped, peels and all
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup molasses

Bring the combined ingredients to a boil in a large pot then simmer until thickened and ladle into jars. The recipe didn’t come with much in the way of specific canning directions. I’m thinking 5 pounds pressure, 10 minutes, like I can stewed tomatoes in the pressure canner. This should make 2 quarts mincement with a little leftover. (Update: No, it didn’t.) I’ll put the leftover in a jam jar in the fridge and use it on toast. (Update: What leftover? This one only makes a quart and a pint.)

To use, after opening a jar, combine a small amount of the filling with a tablespoon of cornstarch to make a paste then mix back in with the rest of the jar (for thickening before making pie).

The quarts will come out of the pantry in the middle of winter one at a time on cold days when I need something special. When I take them out to make my different and interesting pies, I’ll remember these sweet days of fall, the color in the trees, the puffy white clouds in the sky, and the dry driveway I could drive up….. In the bitter days of winter, barren tree branches, gray sky, and driveway under a foot of snow and ice, green tomato mincemeat pie will make it all better.

Work with me here.

UPDATE 10/16/10: This is the one and only time I’ve ever posted a recipe without trying it first. As I made the Mother Earth News recipe, I discovered it was no good, at least to my taste. Here is how I made it, and how I will make it in the future. (My apologies! I promise to never get excited and start dreaming over a recipe and post it without making it first ever again!)

Note that I not only doubled the recipe in order to make enough to be worth canning (the Mother Earth News version only made a quart and a pint), but I added brown sugar and made other increases/additions.)

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Really Good Green Tomato Mincemeat:

4 quarts chopped green tomatoes (fine or chunky, however you like it)
4 cups raisins
1 cup molasses
1 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
4 oranges, chopped, peels and all
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
packed brown sugar to taste (I used 4 cups)

Bring the combined ingredients to a boil in a large pot, adding brown sugar to taste and simmering until thickened; ladle into jars. Pressure can at 5 pounds for 10 minutes, or process in a boiling water bath for 45 minutes. Makes 3 quarts.

Find this recipe (the updated version) on Farm Bell Recipes and save it to your recipe box.

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  1. bonita says:

    Sounds yummy, sort of similar to the green tomato chutney I used to make when I had a supply of green tomatoes. Don’t get many green tomatoes anymore, not since the foragers come over the fence and pick my tomato plants clean shortly after labor day. They’re so bold they even bring paper sacks with them so they’ll be sure to get each and every fruit on the plants. (Perils of city living…)

  2. Sheila Z says:

    I made some this year and it turned out sooooooo gooooood! I’m thinking of using it to make some of your fig newton type cookies with for the holidays. I used equal amounts of green tomato and chopped firm cooking apples. I also boiled down some cider to about half it’s volume before I put the rest of the ingredients in the pot to cook. The cider added sweetness, tons of flavor and made the resulting mincemeat nice and thick in the end from all the pectin in the apples. I also used both golden raisins and dried currants and then added some finely chopped crystallized ginger. I looked a several recipes and then kind of winged it from what I had in the house. I wish I had written down measurements because I would love to recreate it again. Oh well, I never cook from exact recipes anyway.

  3. Sheila Z says:

    Oh yeah, and all the rest of the stuff from your ingredient list (cider vinegar, spices, molasses and citrus) went it too. I think I threw in a finely chopped lime too because it was sitting there on the counter telling me it wanted to jump into the pot with all the rest. Near the end I tasted and added a bit of raw brown sugar and just a pinch of salt to bring out the flavor.

    Amazing stuff. Wish I had tried this years ago.

  4. lola23 says:

    What kind of tomatoes are those? They look interesting.

  5. Linda Segerson says:

    I have lots of green tomatoes too, just gave some away. Thanks for the ideas, I now know what to do with the others.

  6. Jane says:

    Mince pies (we leave off the ‘meat’), were the best thing about Christmas when I lived in England. Enjoy.. I bet it will be delicious!

  7. Drucillajoy says:

    That sounds good, but why the pressure canning? It seems like it would be acidic enough…I have a pressure canner, just can’t use it anymore because of my glass top stove, so am rather hindered by what I can preserve.

  8. cake says:

    What? No green tomato pie? we actually tried that once, it was from a faded crumbling newspaper clipping. It just sounded so country & so make-do….. Ughhhhh it was nasty–my granddaughters will never let me live that one down!Especially when we sent them to the freezer for ice gream & they found frozen apples. “Now, MaMa why in the world would you use green tomatoes, when there were apples in the freezer?”

  9. Ramona says:

    I’ve never made that. But, have made green tomato pickles and green tomato salsa.

    But it’s been forever since I’ve done either of those.

    Fried is my favorite way.

  10. jodee says:

    I love mincemeat. We have a dear friend that makes his own and cans it–he uses real meat.
    This sound very interesting, our tomatoes are gone for the year, but I will keep this recipe for next year.
    Thank you for the post.

  11. Barbee' says:

    HELP! I have no green tomatoes. I have green cayenne peppers. What to do with them? I remember seeing a bottle of vinegar with a green hot pepper in it on grandmother’s table. I don’t know if she cooked it first or just put it in raw. I think I need to take this over to the Forum and ask for help. I know I can string and dry the red ones, but I don’t know what to do with all those green ones. If anyone can help, please follow me to the Forum and tell me what I can do with them… and how to do it. Suzanne, I loved the green tomato relish that my mom made. I could eat it with a spoon right out of the jar Georgia style along with a piece of buttered cornbread. Oh, that was good!

  12. Angela says:

    Hey Suzanne!

    I can’t believe you still have tomatoes! Ours died back in July. 😥 Did you plant yours later or something?

    Angela :wave:

  13. Pam C says:

    I was going to suggest green tomato pie, although I have personally never had it. One of the girls I went to school with made it a lot & said hers tasted like apple pie. I’m not a huge fan of tomatoes – the taste or the smell – & will likely only ever have maybe 5 plants in a garden to make salsa at some point. But I don’t have to worry about that right now. Good luck finding something to do with all them tomatoes!

  14. Jim in Colorado says:

    Fried for me too. With cornbread.

  15. Drucillajoy says:

    well, the updated version sounds better because I was wondering about the sweetness…didn’t seem to me like it would have been very sweet with just that bit of molasses. I plan to make it, although my green tomatoes are starting to turn red…hoping I will have enough of them. Thanks for the update.

  16. bonita says:

    Wow, the updated version ius even closer to my fave green tomato chutney. Let’s hear it for sugar and spice!

  17. megan says:

    i’m so glad I put off making this recipe, and double checked what I had written down before with what you said before I RUINED EVERYTHING! Thank- you! You are so wonderful!

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