As Fall progresses and tomato season comes to an end you can use these tips to learn how to ripen green tomatoes.
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Fall is my favorite time of year. But one thing that I don’t like about fall is the fact that very soon we will no longer have fresh tomatoes from the garden. Our first frost arrives roughly the 1st of October, we are usually able to protect our tomatoes for a week or two longer with fabric row covers. But sooner or later mother nature is going to take our tomato plants and leave us with a bunch of tomatoes that are either green or at best not fully ripe.
Over the years we have learned how to ripen green tomatoes inside our house or garage. These tomatoes are never as tasty as those that we pick, sun-ripened, in August and September. But they are still pretty good and way better than store-bought tomatoes.
5 tips on How to Ripen Green Tomatoes
Here are 5 tips to help you continue to enjoy your garden grown tomatoes for a month or two after the cold weather arrives.
Don’t bother with the small stuff
A day or two before the really cold weather arrives you need to get out in your garden and pick all of the unripe tomatoes. While we are going through our tomato plants we only pick decent sized tomatoes. It’s not worth the bother with all the millions of little tomatoes. Just choose tomatoes that are roughly “baseball” size or bigger. Pick any tomatoes that are already starting to ripen and as many larger green tomatoes as you think you will need for the next month or two.
Sort your tomatoes well
Any tomatoes that are showing even the smallest sign of ripening need to be in a box by themselves. Ripening tomatoes (and many other fruits) put off a chemical that causes other tomatoes to ripen. If one of your tomatoes is ripening and you leave it with the others they will all start to ripen. We like to pull any ripening fruit out and keep it separate that way the whole box doesn’t ripen at once.
Store your Tomatoes 1 layer deep
After about a week of being indoors put all your green tomatoes in open boxes (or just on a table top) only one layer deep. Again this keeps the ripening from spreading too quickly. Keep your tomatoes in a very cool spot. We like to keep ours in the garage where it is cold all winter but never freezes.
Pull any ripening tomatoes out of your boxes
As the tomatoes start to ripen separate the ripening fruit from the green. Check your tomatoes often and any time you see one that is ripening, pull it out of the box. We have found that if we do this we get a nice slow ripening process over the course of a couple of months. If you leave the tomatoes that are turning red in the box with your green ones that ripening will quickly spread through the whole box. Pulling the ripening tomatoes out slows down the process for the rest of the box.
Some years we have had garden grown tomatoes as late as New Years and have used them to make salsa! Of course, if you want them to ripen sooner then you can leave a ripening fruit in the box with the others or bring them in the warm house where they will ripen much sooner.
Keep your expectations low
These are NOT the vine-ripened mouth-watering beauties you are harvesting in August and September. We often compare ripened green tomatoes to store bought tomatoes. They just don’t have the same flavor and texture that their vine-ripened counterparts have. But they are homegrown and organic, and are perfect for soups and casseroles in the early winter months! I even slap them on a sandwich every once in a while.
So that is how to ripen green tomatoes. If you manage the process well you can have a few ripe tomatoes every week for two or more months after the season ends.
Would you like to learn more about growing your own tomatoes? You should buy my tomato growing course at The Online Gardening School. Click the link below to learn more and to get the course for 1/2 off!