Bread and Butter Pickled Green Tomatoes

6 pint jars

Though the job is spread over three days, making this pickle is actually quite easy and well worth the effort.


  • 7 pounds green tomatoes

  • 1 cup pickling lime

  • 5 pounds sugar

  • 6 cups white vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves

  • 5 cinnamon sticks

  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice

  • 1 teaspoon whole celery seed

  • 2 blades mace

  • 1 3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced in ¼-inch rounds


  1. Wash tomatoes thoroughly; cut away any bad spots. Cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

  2. Combine 2 gallons of water and the pickling lime in a large nonreactive bowl, and add tomatoes. Let soak for 24 hours.

  3. Drain tomatoes, and cover with fresh water. Soak for 4 hours, changing water every half hour. Rinse, and drain well.

  4. Make syrup: In a large nonreactive pot, combine sugar and vinegar, and bring to a boil. Fold an 8-by-16-inch piece of cheesecloth in half to make a square; rinse with water, and squeeze dry. Place cloves, cinnamon, allspice, celery seeds, mace, and ginger in the cheesecloth; tie closed with one end of a 12-inch piece of cotton string. Tie a loop in the other end, and slip it over the handle of a wooden spoon. Suspend spice bag in the syrup by placing the spoon across the top of the pot. Remove syrup from heat, add tomatoes, and let sit overnight at room temperature, covered with a clean dish towel.

  5. Remove kitchen towel, and transfer pot back to the stove. Bring tomatoes to a simmer over medium-high heat, and cook, pushing them into the syrup occasionally, until translucent, about 35 minutes.

  6. Meanwhile, sterilize the jars and lids: Place a round wire rack in the bottom of a large stockpot. The rack should fit as snugly as possible and should stand 1/2 to 1 inch above the bottom of the pot. Wash the jars, lids, and screw bands with hot, soapy water. Stand six pint jars on the rack, and add the lids; it's not necessary to add the screw bands. Fill the pot with enough water to cover jars by 1 to 2 inches; an additional 1 to 2 inches of space should remain below the rim of the pot so the water doesn't overflow. Cover, and bring the water to a simmer (180 degrees.; let the lids and jars simmer 10 minutes. (The lids and jars can continue to simmer until you're ready to fill them.)

  7. Using a jar lifter, remove a jar from the simmering water, and empty the water back into the stockpot. Place the jar on a clean surface. Using stainless-steel tongs, layer hot tomatoes in hot sterilized pint jars, leaving 3/4 inch of space beneath the rim. Pour hot syrup over tomatoes, covering them by 1/4 inch, leaving 1/2 inch of space beneath the rim. Slide a clean plastic chopstick or wooden skewer along the inside of each jar to release any air bubbles. Wipe the mouth of the jar with a clean, damp cloth. Place hot lid on jar; turn screw band firmly without forcing. Repeat with remaining jars and tomatoes.

  8. With the jar lifter, return the filled jars to the stockpot of simmering water, making sure the jars aren't touching the sides of the pot and are spaced about 1 inch apart.

  9. Raise the heat to high, cover the stockpot, and bring the water to a boil. Process the jars in the boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove the jars from the water bath with the jar lifter, and transfer them to a wire rack to cool for 24 hours. As the tomatoes cool, a vacuum will form inside the jar, sealing it; you might hear a popping sound. A slight indentation in the lid indicates the vacuum seal; the lid should not flex up and down when pressed firmly with a finger. Store in a cool, dry, dark place for up to 1 year. The tomatoes can be served when cool but are more flavorful when allowed to mellow in a cool, dry place for 2 to 3 weeks. Store opened jars in the refrigerator.

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