Gardening Recipes

Recipe: Green tomato marmalade with smoked paprika & brandy

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This green tomato marmalade recipe is one of the most delicious summer recipes we make. The result is thick, sweet and smoky preserves that are versatile – and absolutely AMAZING served as an appetizer atop a creamy cheese (like brie) and crackers.


Mmm! Green tomato marmalade atop manchego cheese and crackers. Recipe made from unripe green tomatoes.

Mmm! Green tomato marmalade atop manchego cheese and crackers.


Everybody knows that when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. But what do you do when life gives you unripe, green tomatoes?

Here in the south, if you have large green/unripe beefsteak tomatoes, the answer is usually to make fried green tomatoes, which can make for a delicious meal or appetizer. However, if you have lots of SMALL green tomatoes or more large green tomatoes than you can possibly fry up without giving yourself a heart attack, what do you do?

Large, unripe green tomatoes are coveted in the south, where they're typically made into fried green tomatoes.

Large, unripe green tomatoes are coveted in the south, where they’re typically made into fried green tomatoes.

Over the years, we’ve had to figure out an answer to this question. Since we don’t have a lot of garden beds for our annual plants (most of our growing space is stuffed full of perennials), we can’t do a lot of crop rotation.

And since we live in a hot, humid region that’s basically a giant petri dish for every type of disease that kills tomato plants, our inability to do crop rotations has sometimes meant we suddenly lose otherwise healthy tomato plants to diseases like fusarium or verticillium.

What can you make with lots of unripe green tomatoes?

This year, since I’m starting a farm for Oak Hill Cafe & Farm, a different problem presented itself…

My partner, Chris Miller, and I put in tomato plants and also intended to put in a t-post trellis system shortly thereafter. However, other things took precedent, and before we knew it, our tomato rows were soon an impassable jungle of tomato foliage and unripe tomatoes.

Fixing this problem required four of us to spend a morning cutting tomato branches and tying up the plants to the trellis. Afterwards, we had two 5-gallon buckets full of green tomatoes of all different sizes.

Some of the larger green tomatoes from Oak Hill Cafe & Farm.

Some of the larger green tomatoes from Oak Hill Cafe & Farm.

That’s when I knew it was time to put The Tyrant’s and my recipe to work, thereby making a big batch of green tomato marmalade, a recipe we’ve spent years perfecting!

Taste & timing: Green tomato marmalade with smoked paprika, brandy & vanilla

The layers of complex, nuanced flavor in this green tomato marmalade are truly out of this world. Every single person who’s tried it says it’s the best preserves they’ve ever eaten.

Chef David Porras from Oak Hill was over this morning to get some of our elderflower cordial and other goodies for a popup dinner, and we let him try some. He was so impressed that he asked for a jar to add to the dinner menu. Considering how insanely talented Chef David is, we considered that the ultimate compliment!

If you’re trying to figure out what to do with a lot of unripe green tomatoes, you’ll want to make this recipe too!

Recipe notes

As with many recipes, timing is very important. Adding something too early or too late can completely change the flavor or texture.

The four most important timing details on this recipe are:

1. Don’t rush the green tomato prep – let them sit sliced in a bowl with sugar for 20-24 hours in the refrigerator, stirring every 6 hours or so (as per the instructions in the recipe below). This helps extract water from the green tomatoes and significantly improves the flavor and texture of the final product.

A huge metal bowl of green tomatoes, cut into chunks, sugared, and macerated for 24 hours in the fridge. Instead of plastic, use glass or metal bowls for cooking and food prep, especially when using acidic foods, since compounds in plastic can leach into your food.

A large metal bowl of green tomatoes, cut into chunks, sugared, and macerated for 24 hours in the fridge. Instead of plastic, use glass or metal bowls for cooking and food prep, especially when using acidic foods, since compounds in plastic can leach into your food.

2. Wait until at least 1 hour AFTER you’ve started cooking the green tomatoes to add the sliced organic oranges.

3. You want the final preserves to be nearly caramelized. By the time our preserves are done, the amount of ingredients in our pot has probably decreased by 75%, due to water evaporating during cooking. This means your preserves will have a very thick texture with intense, concentrated flavor.

4. Only add the vanilla and brandy at the very end. Both of these ingredients contain volatile flavor compounds that will burn off if over-cooked. We usually add them once the preserves are done and being prepped for canning.

Items that will be helpful to make this and other recipes: 

Recipe: Tyrant Farms’ green tomato marmalade with smoked paprika, brandy & vanilla

Now let’s get started! 

Recipe: Tyrant Farms' green tomato marmalade with smoked paprika, brandy, and vanilla.

Tyrant Farms’ green tomato marmalade with smoked paprika, brandy, and vanilla – the best way we know to use lots of unripe tomatoes.


Green tomato marmalade with smoked paprika, brandy, and vanilla

Course: Appetizer, Breakfast, lunch, Preserves, topping
Cuisine: American
Keyword: green tomato marmalade, green tomatoes, how to use unripe tomatoes, marmalade, unripe tomato recipes
Prep Time: 1 day
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 1 day 3 hours
Servings: 8 pints
Author: Aaron von Frank

Our green tomato marmalade recipe took years to perfect and is the best way to use up lots of unripe green tomatoes. You'll love these rich, sweet & smoky preserves!


  • 26 cups green tomatoes sliced into 1/2" to 1" chucks (weight 8lb 6 oz)
  • 6 cups organic cane sugar
  • 3 organic oranges keep skin remove seeds sliced as thinly as possible, ideally with a mandolin
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon citric acid
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup brandy



  1. Layer tomatoes and sugar in a large bowl. Allow to macerate for 20 to 24 hours in your fridge, stirring 2 or 3 times.

Making the Marmalade (20-24 hrs later)

  1. Put tomato-sugar mixture into a large pot. Bring to a boil, then cook at a lively simmer for one hour. Stir occasionally.
  2. While the tomatoes and sugar are simmering, mandolin the oranges into thin slices (like you'd use in marmalade). Although, if you don't have a mandolin a sharp serrated knife — like a deli knife — will do. After the tomatoes have simmered for at least an hour, add the sliced oranges, lemon juice, citric acid, and smoked paprika to the pot and cook for another 1-2 hours, stirring often so it doesn't stick on the bottom of the pan (especially towards the end as the mixture thickens).

  3. Once the preserves are done, add the vanilla and brandy. Stir until evenly mixed and remove from heat.

  4. To can: Put the finished preserves in 1/2 pint jars and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes or use a pressure cooker.

The downside to this green tomato marmalade recipe? Once you taste it, you might not ever want to let another tomato ripen again!




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  • Reply
    December 14, 2023 at 3:32 pm

    Greeting from Australia. First time tomato grower and this looks like a great idea for my excess green tomatoes for a bulk batch Christmas gift. Quick clarification …do you include the orange peel or just the fruit/pulp..or both?

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      December 15, 2023 at 3:43 pm

      Hi Clem! Sorry for any confusion. In the recipe card instructions, we state “keep skin remove seeds sliced as thinly as possible, ideally with a mandolin.” By “skin” we mean peel. So other than removing the seeds, you’ll be using the whole orange, peels and all. Enjoy!

  • Reply
    October 16, 2023 at 9:43 pm

    I stumbled across your recipe searching for ways to use green tomatoes. I was intrigued so ran with it. I’m so happy I did. This is Amazing! It’s a simple recipe with minimal hands on work. It’s sweet, tangy, smokey with a touch of spiciness due to an ingredient change. I only had hot smoked paprika so used one tablespoon then used ancho Chile powder for the second tablespoon. I also substituted spiced rum for the brandy as I didn’t have brandy on hand.

    Thank you for taking the time to develop the recipe and for sharing. This will be made every year!

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      October 19, 2023 at 11:20 am

      Wonderful, thanks Tawnia! Glad you’re enjoying green tomato marmalade as much as we do. Thanks also for the ingredient substitution tips in case other people want to make a spicy version.

  • Reply
    October 8, 2023 at 8:16 pm

    How did you get your color so brown? Mine is still green.

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      October 9, 2023 at 6:12 am

      We cook our green tomato marmalade down for a long time until it’s super concentrated and thick.

  • Reply
    September 14, 2023 at 8:37 pm

    watery and not like a marmalade.

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      September 15, 2023 at 11:07 am

      Sorry, Lorna. This is a recipe we make almost every year and it’s always a big hit with our family and friends. As mentioned in the article, the key to the recipe turning out well (and not watery) is to cook it waaaay down — probably by about 75% volume — for several hours. Then it’s very thick and the flavors are incredibly concentrated. Perhaps you could try putting yours back on the stove to reduce it down further?

  • Reply
    Julie Wychor
    October 17, 2022 at 11:16 am

    This recipe is going to be a new favorite, it’s unique and delicious! I was excited to find a new way to use up my excess green tomatoes, and the flavor combination really intrigued me. It used a lot of them up, plus it was an easy recipe. I got 13 jelly jars full and plan on giving some as gifts. It’s a keeper!!

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      October 17, 2022 at 11:51 am

      Thanks and glad you loved our green tomato marmalade recipe, Julie! Hope your family and gift recipients love it, too. 🙂

  • Reply
    Ann Marie Ziskovsky
    October 28, 2021 at 3:11 pm

    I’m not a bourbon or brandy drinker. Can you give a suggestion on a Brand name to use? Also, do you core your tomatoes? I am getting ready to pick everything left in my garden, and know that I will be making at least one batch of this recipe.

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      October 28, 2021 at 3:19 pm

      Hi Ann! You don’t have to get anything too fancy for this recipe. A basic brandy like Paul Masson will be fine. Yes, you’ll want to remove any tough or woody parts of the tomato before making this recipe. Best of luck and please let us know how your green tomato marmalade turns out!

      • Reply
        October 31, 2021 at 4:17 pm

        I made a triple batch of this the other night. I didn’t have the organic cane sugar so I used brown sugar instead, but oh my! I liked the taste before it was done, but today I made a regular old grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough bread with it and it was excellent. I’m anxious to try a few other cheeses in a sandwich too. I have a ton of green tomatoes left and I will definitely be making more of this to use myself and to share with family as gifts.

        • Aaron von Frank
          October 31, 2021 at 5:23 pm

          Wonderful! Glad your green tomato marmalade turned out well, Ann. Thanks also for sharing your version with brown sugar. Yes, this recipe makes great gifts – we get requests every year! Don’t share it with too many people or you might have to make an even bigger batch next year. 😛

  • Reply
    October 24, 2021 at 8:00 am

    Is this recipe developed for pint or 1/2 pint canning? In the pictures you have it in pints, and the amount made is in pints, but the directions say 1/2 pint in the end. If it’s safe, I’d like to can it in pints.

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      October 24, 2021 at 12:50 pm

      Hi Madeline! Sorry for any confusion. We actually used a combination of half pint and pint jars. Given that the ingredients are all high acid (tomatoes, oranges, lemon juice, citric acid), this is about as safe as canning recipes come. Caveat: we don’t have lab equipment in our kitchen necessary to test pH and internal canning temps, and there’s always a safety risk involved when using a water bath vs a pressure canner. That said, you could use either half pint or pint jars for this recipe. If using larger jars, go a little longer on your water bath (assuming you’re not using a pressure canner), say ~20 minutes rather than 15 minutes. Another option if you’re doing a small batch: refrigerate rather than canning it. Or you could always freeze it in straight-sided jars (NOT shouldered jars). Hope this helps and also hope you love this recipe as much as we do. 🙂

  • Reply
    October 22, 2021 at 9:00 pm

    This will be my third year turning my green tomatoes into your marmalade. It was a popular option offered by the grilled cheese station at our son’s wedding reception this summer.

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      October 23, 2021 at 12:53 pm

      Wonderful to hear, thanks Lisa! Glad to hear you also discovered the pairing of green tomato marmalade with grilled cheese – one of our faves as well. 🙂

  • Reply
    August 22, 2021 at 6:26 pm

    This looks fabulous. I can’t wait to make it. Thank you especially for listing produce by weight. That is most helpful. Cheers!

  • Reply
    September 21, 2020 at 7:43 am

    Is it Bourbon or brandy in this recipe?

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      September 24, 2020 at 11:28 am

      Hi Angela! We used brandy – sorry about the confusion as we just noticed the recipe card ingredient said bourbon. But to be fair, either would work.

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