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Canning Green Tomatoes

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Green Sauce

Jars of green sauce ready to be put into the water bath canner.

This week I was finally able to can up the rest of our green tomatoes. The past garden year was pretty rough on tomatoes with the blight, and we were able to save most of ours in the green stage before they started to harden and brown. Summer is generally a busy time for most folks, us included, so I washed them well, chopped them coarsely, and tossed them into the freezer to can later (whenever possible, I like to can in the cooler days of late fall, since that is usually when I can find that time and it warms the house. The same method worked well with the apples we harvested at the end of summer, quartering and freezing them until I made applesauce a few weeks ago).

At first I planned to make them into a chutney, but I noticed some jalepenos from the garden shriveling away on the counter, and some store-bought cilantro turning brown in the fridge. Green tomatoes work well as a substitute for tomatillos, so I decided to make a Mexican green sauce.

Thawing the tomatoes to allow me to drain the retained water that resulted was simple and I charred the onions and peppers a bit to give them a deeper flavor, but you could also saute them with the spices before processing.

The measurements here are what worked for me, but you can tailor the recipe to your needs or preference.

Mexican Green Sauce
By ,

canning green tomatoes post image

This green sauce recipe is a great way to use up those green tomatoes that never ripened in the garden.

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Yield: 6 quart jars

2 gallons chopped, frozen or fresh green tomatoes
1-2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
8 jalepenos, tops cut off
1 bunch cilantro, leaves and small stems chopped
4 cloves garlic
1-2 Tbsp salt (to taste)
2 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp coriander
2 tsp. dark chili powder
2 Tbsp sugar or honey


Place the tomatoes in a large pot (don’t add any water if they’re frozen) and thaw gently over medium heat. Salt and sugar them and stir, then remove from heat when thawed, and mostly drain. There should be some water left, but certainly not all. I saved the tomato water to add to soup.

Combine onions, jalepenos, and garlic on a baking sheet and drizzle very lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place them under a high broiler and watch them…when the pepper skins and the onions start to blacken and blister they’ll be ready (don’t burn them – just enough black to deepen the flavor). Even though we have a large food processor, I divided the onions and peppers into two piles (batches) and divided the chopped cilantro between them.

Place half the green tomatoes and one pile of peppers/onions/cilantro in the processor and process until desired consistency (I left mine a little chunky). Repeat and set aside. Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom of a pot and add the spices when it’s hot. Cook briefly, then add all of the green sauce and reduce the sauce for a few minutes. Since I was going to process it in a hot water bath a few minutes, I wanted to leave the tomatoes as raw as I possibly could, so as soon as it thickened a bit and began to steam I turned it off. Check the seasoning and make sure it’s salted enough.

Spoon into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace; screw on lids and process in a water bath for 15-20 minutes.

Green Sauce Ingredients

Gathering my ingredients together…

Peppers and Onions

Peppers and onions mid-broil.

Adding cilantro

Adding the cilantro. The smaller stems can be used as well, since they’ll be processed finely, and add more flavor.

Green Sauce

Getting ready to pour the sauce into jars. I stuck with a slightly chunky consistency

Canning Green Sauce

Pouring into sterilized jars, making sure to leave at least 1/2 inch of “headspace”, which helps ensure the jars don’t crack in the water bath.

Water bath

15 – 20 minutes in the water bath canner was the perfect amount of time.

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Category: Food, How-To

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