Gardening columnist Jocelyne Sewell looks at how to use up all those ripened tomatoes as the season shifts. (file)

A Gardener’s Diary: How to make green tomato pickles

Gardening columnist Jocelyne Sewell looks at how to use up all those ripened tomatoes as the season shifts

Finally the smoke has cleared and it is easier to work outside.

The fall bulbs are now on the market and ready to plant. One of the main plants to put in the ground in the fall is garlic. This year, the garlic was amazing — must have to do with all the rain we had in the spring. You should have a well-drained soil with compost and well-rotted manure.

Always plant the biggest cloves as they will give you the biggest bulbs. Plant with the pointy end up about two inches (five centimetres) deep and six-inches or so apart (15 cm). After planting, mulch the beds. The garlic will start putting roots and will be ready to grow in the spring. The mulch will protect the garlic during winter. If you have straw use it but some of the seeds might germinate in the spring. I use shredded leaves mixed with grass clippings.

You can divide your peonies at this time and many other perennials that bloom early in the spring. They will have time to grow new roots before winter. Keep watering your plants and trees at this time. The soil is very dry.

Some plants have slowed their growth with the cooler and shorter days.

All the tomato plants should have been topped off earlier as the flowers and new growth will take the energy away from ripening the fruits that are already there. If you still have lots of green tomatoes, the following web site might help you:

This month, I would like to give you a recipe for green tomato pickles, but in French, we call it ketchup vert.

I have been making this for the past 40 years. I love the smell of it as it cooks and I start sampling it early in the process. It is very simple and delicious. You can serve it with any meat but I would not eat a tourtière without it.

The finished product is nicer if cut by hand than using the food processor.

Green tomato Pickles Ketchup Vert

8 cups sliced green tomatoes

4 cups sliced onions

1/2 cup pickling salt

1 1/2 cups white vinegar

1 1/2 cups of brown sugar

1/4 cup pickling spices tied in a muslin bag or in a tea infuser

In a large pot, layer tomatoes and onions with the salt. Let stand overnight. In the morning, rinse well and drain. In a large cooking pot, put tomatoes, onions, vinegar, brown sugar and spices.

Bring to a boil and lower the heat and simmer until tender about 45 minutes to one hour. The tomatoes will turn a darker green.

Wash the jars in hot soapy water; rinse. Keep hot until needed. Prepare lids as manufacturer directs.

Ladle into one hot jar at a time, leaving 1/4 inch headspace (6.35 mm). Wipe rim of jar with a clean damp cloth. Process in a boiling-water bath. Pints 15 minutes — plus two minutes in Vernon for elevation. Sterilizing jars is not needed when you’re water-bath canning, as long as processing time is more than 10 minutes.

When it comes to preparing jars for canning, you should understand that processing for more than 10 minutes sterilizes both the food and the jars. Yields about three-to-four pints.

For more information: call 250-558-4556; email

READ MORE: Okanagan College expands ‘Wellness Wednesdays’ to all students this fall

READ MORE: Gardener’s Diary: Tomato rot not the end of the world

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