How to Store Green Tomatoes from your Garden, So They Ripen Inside, During Fall and Winter
Ripening Tomatoes Indoors
It's not difficult to ripen your green tomatoes indoors. And while they
are not as good as a vine-ripe tomato picked in the heat of summer, they
will taste a lot better than any store-bought greenhouse tomato! And I have
had tomatoes that I picked green in October, ripen indoors and ate them in
Pick the green tomatoes off the vine, BEFORE they are hit by a
frost. If there has already been a frost, only those green tomatoes
which were protected will ripen. You can easily tell the frost
damaged tomatoes as they turn a dark green often immediatley, but
certainly within a day or two.
Inspect and wash (under cool running water*) the green tomatoes,
blot them dry with a clean towel and let them dry completely. * Why use
running water? Because you want to wash away any dirt, bacteria,
fungus, etc. and NOT cross-contaiminate the tomatoes.
Remove any damaged, soft, or spotted tomates. You can attempt
to ripen them, but keep them away from your good tomatoes as they will
probably quickly rot.
You will need a flat, wide container with an absorbent layer to
spread the tomatoes out. Here are the keys: The
container should be liquid proof, or made of a thick absorbent material
(like thick cardboard) so that it will contain any liquid from tomatoes
that rot. The bottom must be lined with an absorbent material, so
when a tomatoe rots, the liquid from it will not contact other tomatoes
(which will cause them to rot) There needs enough rooms so that no
tomato is touching another tomato. Ideally, there should be about 2
inches between each tomato. The flat, wide cardboard produce boxes
that you can get for free at Costco or Sam's Club are ideal, when you
line them with about 5 sheets thick of newspaper or paper towels.
Place the clean, dry tomatoes one layer deep in the boxes.
Space them out, so no tomato is touching another. 2 or 3 inches between
tomatoes works well.
Store the box of green tomatoes in a cool (50 - 65 F), dry
area. An unheated basement, insulated garage, or enclosed porch would
work very well. If the temperature is on the cooler end, say 50 - 60,
ripening will be slower, and you may have some into January.
Temperatures in the 60's will cause much more rapid ripening. High
humidy typically causes more rot. I use a dehumidifier in my
basement, set on 35 - 40% humidity.
Check the tomatoes at least every week. Eevery other day is
better. Remove any that are 50% or more red, and let them finish
ripening on your kitchen counter. Check the tomatoes for signs of rot.
Any rotting tomatoes should be removed. Once a tomatoe starts to rot, it
will spread quickly.
The tomatoes should slowly ripen over a period of 3 weeks to 3
Tips on Ripening Green Tomatoes
Inspect every other day - the spread of one rotting tomato to the
others is your greatest danger.
Good air circulation and low humidity will help prevent mold
FAQs - Frequently Asked Questins and Answers
What about pulling up the
whole tomato plant and bringing it inside? That's more work
than it is worth, and it brings all the mold spores, bacteria and
microbes that are on the plant into your house and keeps them near the
tomatoes, while they ripen... bad strategy.
Is any chemical or spray needed to get green tomatoes to ripen?
No. They ripen all on their own.
Will placing a banana near the tomatoes cause them to ripen
faster. Yes, it should, as banans give off ethylene
gas as they ripen and that is one of several factors in the ripening
Do they have to be kept at a specific and/or steady
temperature? It certainly helps to have an even
temperature, and cooler (50-60) results in slower, more controlled
Must I pick the tomatoes before frost? That is
best. Tomato plants, like pepper plants and basil, will die well above
freezing, anyway, and any frost-damaged tomatoes will rot rather than
ripen. If the frost has already occurred, you can salvage tomatoes that
were in protected spots on the plants, or covered, so they have no frost
What about ripening the tomatoes on a sunny windowsills?
Definitely not! Light is not required for ripening and, in fact, it tends to make the skins
of the fruits harder and overheating the tomatoes can cause them to rot.
Remember, the tomato is no longer attached to a growing plant!
How important is temperature? Temperature is a very
important factor. The warmer a tomato fruit is the quicker it will ripen. So
you can slow down ripening by placing tomatoes in a cool area (50 - 60 F) or speed them
up with moderate warmth (60 - 68F).
What about other methods like wrapping each tomato in a
peice of newspaper or putting each in its own small paper bag?
Over the years I have tried all of these methods, and found the method
above is best. You cannot inspect the tomatoes when they are
wrapped or in a bag, and I haven't seen any advantage to it.
This is the same type of standard canner that my grandmother used to make everything from applesauce to jams and jellies to tomato and spaghetti sauce. This complete kit includes everything you need and lasts for years: the canner, jar rack, jar grabber tongs, lid lifting wand, a plastic funnel, labels, bubble freer. It's much cheaper than buying the items separately. You'll never need anything else except jars & lids (and the jars are reusable)! There is also a simple kit with just the canner and rack, and a pressure canner, if you want to do vegetables (other than tomatoes). To see
more canners, of different styles, makes and prices, click here!
Don't forget the Ball Blue Book!
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