Last Updated on October 6, 2021 by Anne-Marie
Make this easy green tomato ketchup recipe with fresh tomatoes from your garden.
Why this recipe works
If you're overwhelmed with tomatoes from your garden, you must make this easy green tomato ketchup recipe.
Don't worry, it’s not as hard as you think, even if you're new to canning.
After all, there’s nothing like enjoying the benefits of your garden year round by canning your tomatoes.
Why make green tomato ketchup
While there’s nothing wrong with making tomato sauce from tomatoes, you should try making this green tomato ketchup even if you've never canned before.
I decided to make green ketchup canning recipe since it was easy to do even though canning was intimidating.
In fact, I was overjoyed at how well my first batch of green ketchup turned out.
Green Tomato Ketchup is very sweet and mild, almost like an apple sauce rather than a red tomato ketchup.
I’ve tried it everything from eggs to fish sticks to sweet potato fries. And it’s delicious!
How to make green tomato ketchup
Food safety first!
It’s very important that you add bottled lemon juice to this Green Tomato Ketchup recipe.
Do not use fresh lemon juice as it is not acidic enough.
Bottled lemon juice will give the green tomato ketchup enough acidity to avoid any issues with Clostridium botulinum bacteria, which is a deadly neurotoxin.
You can read about it on this PDF from the University of Wisconsin.
They recommend 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice per quart. Since my Green Tomato Ketchup recipe makes 2 quarts, I added 4 tablespoons.
Honey vs. agave
Due to my food sensitivities to honey, I used agave nectar to sweeten my Green Tomato Ketchup recipe. Any variety of agave is fine (light, dark, etc.)
However, you can use honey if you like, especially if you don’t feel the need to add something new to your pantry.
Some tomato canning guides and supplies to help you make green tomato ketchup
If you’re new to canning tomatoes, here are some books to help you get started!
● Ball Complete Book of Canning and Preserving. I have this book on canning. It’s perfect for beginners.
● Canning and Preserving for Beginners: The Essential Canning Recipes and Canning Supplies Guide is also a terrific guide.
● You can download USDA Publications on home canning at the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Best of all they’re FREE.
Canning equipment needed to make green tomato ketchup
Don’t have any canning equipment?
First, you need a large stock pot
The Granite Ware Steel/Porcelain Water-Bath Canner is a 21.5-quart capacity enamel water bath canner and chrome plated rack
Second, you need a canning kit
There are a variety of canning kits to choose from depending on how serious you want to get with your canning.
I recommend getting at kit with at least the following:
- a lifter
- a funnel
The Norpro Canning Essentials Boxed Set has everything you need to get started at a good price.
Then, buy dissolvable labels
I also recommend Ball Dissolvable Labels. I love these labels because they're super easy to get off when you've finished a jar and want to reuse it for something else.
These are terrific for canned green ketchup as well as labeling jars for gifts like homemade keto taco seasoning mix recipe or DIY Coffee Sugar Scrub with Coconut Oil.
Don’t buy a cheaper brand because those won’t come off as easily when you wash them.
Finally, get good jars
Don’t forget to buy a case of 8-ounce Ball Jar Crystal Jelly Jars with Lids and Bands.
If you’re making Green Tomato Ketchup as a homemade gift, the small jelly jars are super adorable and perfect for gift giving.
More canning recipes
If you had fun canning, try these recipes:
You can use Refrigerator Pickled Okra like pickles or in martinis instead of olives.
This Easy Fig Ginger Jam is super on toast or yogurt.
Don’t throw out watermelon rinds! Make Best Watermelon Rind Pickles instead.
Green Tomato Ketchup Recipe
Looking for green tomato recipes? Then make this easy green ketchup recipe!
- 6 pounds green tomatoes
- 3 pounds onions
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon ground dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons mixed pickling spices
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice (do not use fresh juice as it's not acidic enough)
- 3/4 to 1 cup agave nectar (any type is fine)
- Slice green tomatoes and onions. Place in a large pot with pepper, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce.
- Put the mixed pickling spices in a small cheesecloth bag and add to the tomato mixture.
- Pour cider vinegar over the mixture.
- Cook for four to six hours over very low heat, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the bag of pickling spices.
- Puree the mixture with a wand blender or in a food processor or blender.
- Strain the tomato mixture through a mesh strainer.
- Return to pot and bring to boil.
- Add lemon juice and 3/4 cup of agave and stir until dissolved. Using a clean spoon, take a taste. If you feel the ketchup is sweet enough, stop. If not, add another 1/4 cup of agave nectar. Remember to use a clean spoon every time you taste test.
- Immediately fill six sterilized jelly jars with green tomato ketchup, leaving 1/4-inch headspace.
- Wipe the jar tops and threads clean with a clean paper towel. Place hot sealing lids on the jars and apply the screw on rings loosely.
- Process in boiling water bath in a deep canning pot for 5 minutes, adjusting for altitude.
- Remove the jars and cool completely. Tighten the jar screw rings to complete the sealing process.
- After the jars of green tomato ketchup cool, check seals by pressing the middle of the lid with finger. If the lid springs back, your green tomato ketchup didn’t seal and must be refrigerated.
- Let jars of green tomato ketchup stand at room temperature 24 hours. Don’t forget to apply a dated label!
- Store unopened product in a cool dry place up to one year. Refrigerate green tomato ketchup after opening.
As an Amazon Associate Affiliate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Serving Size:1 8-ounce bottle
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 238Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 62mgCarbohydrates: 52gFiber: 7gSugar: 36gProtein: 7g
Nutritional information is automatically calculated per the ingredients list. Serving size may not be accurate. Please double-check with your preferred nutritional app for the most accurate information.
Originally posted October 27, 2011 and August 9, 2016. Updated with new photos and information.
Bottle photo credit: Adobe Stock
Whenever I harvest tomatoes for preserving, I freeze them in old plastic coffee containers. When I want to use them in a recipe, such as this, I allow them to thaw in the fridge or on the counter, and then pour them into a colander. The freezing process breaks down the cell structure in the tomatoes enough to release quite a bit of the juice, which makes the resulting sauces much thicker, without hours and hours of cooking down. I also use a strainer designed specifically to remove tomato skins and seeds without losing the pulp. Villaware is a common brand, I believe.
Thanks for the tips, Martha! Besides making green tomato ketchup, I love your tips for freezing leftover tomatoes as well.
Would it be possible to make this in a small batch to be kept in the fridge and used instead of going through the canning process? Might it safely work on tomatoes picked after a freeze?
Phil, you could make a small batch to keep in the fridge. You could also freeze a few jars in plastic freezer containers if you want to skip canning the green tomato ketchup. Finally, give the picked tomatoes a try. I don’t think it matters too much if they’ve been “damaged” after a freeze or frost. You’re going to cook them after all. Good luck!
This is flat out amazing. Using the Foley food mill was a lot easier.
Use a Mulli instead of a strainer. All the pulp will be left in, seed and skin out.
I’m wondering about sealing and canning this in Snapple bottles with lug caps. Any experience with that?
I haven’t tried it. Sorry.
I tried this today, because we are expecting a freeze, and I had an abundance of green tomatoes, and am not a great fan of fried green tomatoes. I hated to see them go to waste. I think it turned out rather good. I think the problem other people had with it was that it was labeled as ketchup, and perhaps they expected it to taste that way. I had no expectation, so was pleasantly surprised that it tasted very good. I think it should be called ” green tomato condiment” instead.
Knowing about the fine sieve would have been helpful and reduced time. This recipe way way too vinegary and I love vinegar. I didn’t even bother to can it need some tweak an could be very good. Disappointed
Sorry this didn’t work out for you. The batch I made turned out very well – nice and sweet and not too vinegary.
It’s based on a recipe that uses the same amount of vinegar, so I’m not sure why you had this problem.
Also, the directions mention using a mesh strainer. It’s always a good idea to read through directions to make sure you have all the equipment you need before starting a recipe.
I made this true to the recipe. It tasted so terrible that I did not even can it. It needs much more sweetener then this recipe recommends but I did not even bother, as the taste of the apple cider vinegar is so potent that you cannot taste anything else. I am not someone who prefers very sweetened condiments but a ketchup is expected to be sweet. I think regular vinegar would be less overwhelming. Oh well. It was a green tomato experiment.
Sorry this didn’t work out for you Lorry. It’s been a while since I made it and I remember it being very sweet.
What is pickling spice?
It’s a combination of spices used in pickling. You can buy it where canning supplies are sold. You can also find recipes for making your own homemade pickling spices online.
My turned out just liquid is this right? I thought it would be thicker, I strained it through a mesh and all the pulp was taken out just leaving liquid??
Straining it through too fine a mesh will take out all the pulp, which will make it just a watery liquid.
in the directions … # 7 does say to strain ?? I have not yet made the green ketchup because it seems to me that straining will create a liquid??
Make sure your mesh strainer isn’t too fine. You want to push it through with the back of a spoon to remove the skin and seeds but not the pulp. Straining it through too fine a mesh will take out all the pulp, which will make it just a watery liquid. If you want, you can skip this step and put the liquid in a blender and blend it to pulverize the skin, seeds, and pulp so it’s a nice thick liquid.
Can i use sugar instead of agavae? and is this apple cider vinegar please? I live out of town hence the questions and hopefully saving me a trip to town. thank you
Yes, it’s apple cider vinegar. I’m sure sugar is fine, but I don’t know if you would use more or less. You’d have to guess.
what can I use instead of Worchestershire Sauce?
I just left it out, added some salt, and it tasted great!
Great idea for all those tomatoes that hadn’t ripened yet before the snow came. We picked them, but I wasn’t sure what I’d do with them. Thanks!