End of Summer Lacto-Fermented Green Cherry Tomatoes

The hint of a first frost is in the air, especially noticeable here in the higher elevations of New Hampshire. It’s probably still a couple weeks away, but the lower sunlight levels and long winter shadows seem to be pushing summer away, more rapidly than other years.

This was an oppressive summer, its endless heat and humidity always promising but never delivering rain. One of my favorite crops grown by our CSA are cherry tomatoes, but this year proved to be quite a challenge. Had it not been for the daily watering by the CSA-farmers, the plants would never have made it this far. We’ve had some good douses of rain the past few days, and now, finally, near the end of the growing season, their multi-branched clusters are simultaneously flowering as well as producing heavy, beautiful fruit. I’m dehydrating the ripe ones, and have a plan for the green ones.

Image Green Cherry Tomato Pickles
Half-a-dozen years ago, I adapted a recipe from Ricks Picks, for whole, pickled green cherry tomatoes. Ricks was intended to be a “fresh pickle”, adding vinegar and letting the “pickle” cure for a week or two, and then consuming them within a few weeks. My adaptation leaves out the acetic acid – vinegar – because I much prefer the clean, mild flavor of lactic acid, created in the anaerobic conditions of the Pickl-It.

Natural, spontaneous lactic-acid bacteria, present on all forms of life, soil, air and soil, are masters at creating lactic acid which is like vinegar, but in many ways, healthier! It’s not as bitter, or harsh as vinegar, and unlike acetic acid (vinegar), lactic acid vinegar protects the natural probiotics of naturally fermented foods.

All you need to do this? A truly air-tight container! Throw those mason jars out. They’ll never be anaerobic. Grab a Pickl-It, the one and only wire-bail latching container that is repeatedly tested by the manufacturer to ensure it earns the title, “hermetic”, which means “air tight”.

Red Dot Divider

Pickl-It Lacto-Fermented Green Cherry Tomatoes
(adapted from Rick Field of Ricks Picks)

This is an incredibly simple recipe, one I’ve adapted from Ricks Picks. They’re ready to eat in about two weeks, but store incredibly well throughout the winter. Don’t expect a tomato flavor, but instead, more like a pickled-seasoned tomatillo.

I love using them with tomatillo, finely dicing them into green sauces, served over enchiladas, or creating a mid-winter Green Tomato Salsa, finely chopping them along with cilantro, winter-stored onions and several rough-chopped tomatoes, or rehydrated, chopped tomatoes.

Following Recipe Makes 1 1/2-liter Pickl-It


  • 4 bay leaves (don’t double these until you have tripled this recipe, using 6-cups of cherry tomatoes)
  • 2 teaspoon pickling spice
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 dill head (or 3 sprigs fresh dill and 1 teaspoon dill seed)
  • 1 small rough-chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 4 cups (approximately) hard green cherry tomatoes, washed

For the brine: (This makes more than enough for 1 pint, but who wants to only make 1 pint?)

  • 8 cups filtered water (no chlorine or fluoride)
  • 38 grams high-quality unrefined sea salt


  1. Using a clean, sterilized Pickl-It, place all ingredients, beginning with bay leaves, and ending with green cherry tomatoes, into the Pickl-It container.
  2. Clean cherry tomatoes, making sure all stems, leaves, and any sand/dirt have been thoroughly removed.
  3. Here’s the tedious part – poke each cherry tomato several times with a sewing needle. This is so the brine penetrates through the skin, otherwise, the skin will remain tough, like leather. This is a good job for little helpers – 9-year-old, and above, children who like to help in the kitchen. (Or adults who have anger management issues.)
  4. Cherry tomatoes won’t expand like other fermented vegetables, so you may fill the Pickl-It above the “shoulder” line, but please leave at least 1-inch of air space between the top of the brine and Dunk’R, and the bottom of the airlock to allow gases a way to escape.
  5. Stir salt into filtered water until dissolved and then pour over cherry tomatoes.
  6. Place Dunk’R in place to hold tomatoes under the brine.
  7. Latch the Pickl-It lid, fill the airlock with water and cover it with the plastic lid; cover the sides of the Pickl-It to prevent light from neutralizing the vitamins and lactic acid bacteria; place the Pickl-It in a dark corner on your kitchen counter for 5-7 days.

I find these are the most flavorful when I refrigerate them after 7 days, and place them in the refrigerator to continue curing for another 30-days.

Note: The pickling spice I used came from an Amish store and was organic. It was whole spices including mustard seed, allspice, dill seed, cinnamon chips, dill seed, celery seed, mild chiles, cloves, and caraway seed.