The chill in the air has me looking at my tomato plants, and all of that green fruit hanging from them, and wondering if they’ll have enough time to ripen. Luckily, there is no frost in the forecast, and we’re supposed to get warm weather next week, so I have a bit more time. But, our first frost will be upon us soon enough, and I hate letting any tomatoes go to waste.
So when a frost is in the forecast, I’ll head out and harvest the green tomatoes. Any that are at least close to the size they’re supposed to be when ripe will come indoors to ripen. Those that are on the small side will also be harvested and used to make pickled green tomatoes or maybe green tomato chutney (Gayla over at You Grow Girl has a recipe that I’m dying to try.)
There are a few ways to ripen tomatoes indoors:
Pull up the whole plant.
One method for ripening tomatoes is to pull up the entire plant, including the roots. Shake off as much soil as possible, and hang the plant, upside down, in a cool area that gets indirect light. I have to confess that I’ve never tried this method because my tomato plants are just to enormous to even consider it. I’ve heard from people who love this method, though, so it may be worth a try.
Ripen tomatoes on a windowsill.
If you’ve got tomatoes that are starting to turn color, this method usually works very well. Simply pick the tomatoes, wash them, dry them, and set them on your windowsill to finish ripening. There’s some debate about whether you should place them stem-side down or blossom-end side down. I’m pretty haphazard about this and haven’t really noticed any difference either way.
Store them in a box.
If you have green tomatoes that are still pretty firm, and not showing any color at all, you can try this method. Pick the tomatoes, wash them, and dry them. Then wrap each one and place it in a box, stacking the tomatoes no more than 2 layers deep. Store the box in a cool dry place, such as an unheated basement or garage. Check the boxes regularly for signs of ripening, and remove those that are starting to change color so they can finish ripening on your counter top. The flavor won’t be as good as those you picked that were already starting to change color, but they’re still WAY better than anything you can buy in the supermarket, and this method can yield tomatoes for several weeks.
Ripen them with an apple.
This is another method I haven’t tried yet, but I’ve heard of people putting their green tomatoes in a paper bag with an apple to ripen them. This is similar in idea to what commercial producers do to ripen their green tomatoes all at once — the ethylene gas from the apple ripens the tomatoes.
So, there you have them: 4 methods for ripening your green tomatoes indoors. Which one do you use?
Throughout the month of October, I’ll be writing all about my favorite garden topic …. tomatoes! I hope you’ll join me! You can check out the other 31 Dayers here.