Last Updated on September 17, 2023 by The Noms
This green tomato recipe is perfect for those left over green tomatoes from your summer harvest!
As the days start to get cooler and the leaves start to turn yellow, one of the few things that tend to stay green is the tomatoes that remain on the vines in the garden. This year we had a bumper crop of tomatoes that provided a bunch of great meals all summer. We had a bounty of tomatoes that led us to have more than we knew what to do with! Normally when we have a surplus of tomatoes, we just make Bloody Marys like our Spicy Bloody Mary!
Of course, once the weather starts turning cool, those tomato vines that were producing such a bounty keep putting on fruit. But, without those hot summer days to turn them red, in most gardens these green tomatoes will end up going to waste. In our house, we hate to see that produce go to waste.
We started thinking of how we could use some of the gallon buckets full of green tomatoes! We just didn’t want to throw them all away!
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What Ingredients are Needed for the Green Tomato Jam?
This is a sour jam, even though there is a lot of sugar in it. I mean, cups of sugar. But, the unripe green tomatoes have such a unique and different flavor from ripe tomatoes at the end of the season.
- Green Tomatoes – Obviously. But, use tomatoes that don’t have a chance to ripen. Which means unripe red tomatoes.
- Brown Sugar – this gives it a bit more richness and darker sweetness than just regular granulated sugar. Plus, makes it a little thicker, too.
- Lemon Juice – fresh squeezed as always, is best!
- Sugar – because the brown sugar isn’t sweet enough, we add granulated sugar, too!
- Salt – to cut the sweetness slightly, and always an important flavor addition.
- Vanilla Extract – this ingredient, working with the sugars gives a great intense flavor to the jam.
- Lemon Zest – along with the lemon juice, this gives a great citrus addition to the recipe.
We aren’t big fans of the southern favorite fried green tomatoes. So, the past few years we have given a few away to friends then dumped the rest into the compost and called it a day. This fall however was going to be different after having green tomato preserves at the bed and breakfast we stayed at in Napa.
The preserve we had was a rich golden color, an intriguing combination of tart and sweet. The flavor was reminiscent of tomatoes and citrus. It was a great spread on toast and was a wonderful compliment to all kinds of breakfast foods (can we just say green tomato jam and bacon… to die for!)
Having this green tomato jam made us decide that this years crop of green tomatoes were not going to go to waste! So, we got to work on the green tomato jam recipe!
Are Green Tomatoes Safe to Eat?
Tomatoes have a bit of a reputation that they can be poisonous. This is thanks to being related to the nightshade family. Ripe red tomatoes are highly nutritious, but the unripe green tomatoes can have a toxin that in a large enough quantity can make you sick. The safe answer is: Never eat raw green tomatoes! Make sure they are cooked before consuming!
How to Make the Green Tomato Jam
We were searching for a recipe for tomato sauce in an old Italian cookbook when we ran across this recipe for a green tomato jam. The recipe called for a base of honey and sugar to make a rich golden base. Since we didn’t have enough honey, we substituted in some brown sugar, which ended up making the base rich and caramel-y.
Fresh squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest give a fresh citrus burst! This balances out the sweetness of the sugar base and brings the tartness of the tomatoes out.
Simply put, this recipe is easy, it just takes time to cook!
- Prep Tomatoes – you need about 1.5- two pounds of green tomatoes. Rinse and dry them. Using a sharp knife, remove the core and cut in cubes or slices, weigh with a kitchen scale. If you would like, you can use a vegetable peeler to remove the tomato skin.
- Ingredients – Add salt, sugars and lemon juice to the pan and place pan over medium heat.
- Cook – Bring to a low boil, constantly stirring. Let the mixture simmer, stirring regularly.
- Finish – When almost finished, add in vanilla and lemon zest over low heat.
- Store – Pour the hot mixture through a strainer and remove the seeds and skin. Store in pint jars, and place jars in the fridge.
Try another interesting tomato cocktail with fairly simple ingredients, our Nebraska Sunrise!
How to Use the Green Tomato Jam
There are a lot of tasty ideas for this green tomato jam:
- spread on toast
- compote on a charcuterie, perfect with a sharp cheese and small toasts
- topping for a crostini
- top a block of cream cheese and serve with crackers
Tips & Tricks
- Other Flavors – we think this jam has a great flavor already, from the sugars, vanilla extract and both the lemon juice and lemon zest. But, if you are looking for some different great flavors in this jam, we have some ideas. Try a cinnamon stick or star anise in it while it cooks, or add in a red pepper before cooking, which gives it color and flavor. Sweeten this jam with local honey or can sugar instead of the sugars. Add in some orange juice instead of lemon juice.
- Canning – you are able to can this like most jam recipes. Just use a boiling-water canner. More information here for jam canning.
- Presents – if you have a bumper crop of green tomatoes at the end of summer, this is an easy way to get rid of them! If you end up with a few jars of green tomato jam, they make great Christmas presents too, and are a great flavor of summer for the winter months. Your final product will be appreciated, whether you can it, keep it in the fridge, or store in the freezer in freezer containers. You yourself may appreciate this too, if you keep some of your last years’ bounty!
- Total yield for this recipe is around 3 cups, give or take.
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Like this recipe? Try these below, too!
Other Green Tomato Recipes
- Green Tomato Salsa Verde – Montana Homesteader
- Grilled Green Tomatoes – White on Rice Couple
- Southern Fried Green Tomatoes – Divas Can Cook
- Fried Green Tomato and Bacon Grilled Cheese Sandwich – Spicy Southern Kitchen
A delightful fall recipe that makes use of those green tomatoes you don't know what to do with! Make this green tomato jam as a great addition to any charcuterie board!
- 6-8 medium green tomatoes, about 1.5-2 pounds
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- fresh lemon zest, to taste, (no more than 1/4 teaspoon)
Rough chop the tomatoes and place into a non-reactive sauce pan.
Add salt, sugar and lemon juice to the pan and place pan over medium heat.
Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring all the while to help break down the tomatoes and fully mix the ingredients.
Once at a boil, reduce heat to medium low, allowing the mixture to simmer for 35-40 minutes, stirring regularly to keep the mixture from scorching.
With about 5 minutes left on the simmer, add in vanilla and lemon zest. Stir until fully incorporated.
Pour the hot mixture into a strainer and remove the seeds and skin.
Place the strained mixture into a mason jar and allow to cool.
Will keep in the fridge for about 3 weeks.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 69Total Fat: 0.1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 38mgCarbohydrates: 17.9gFiber: 0.3gSugar: 17.6gProtein: 0.2g
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