There are still some green tomatoes on your plant after the end of the season. In that case, you need to take some steps to ripen green tomatoes after harvesting. There are several reasons to ripen your green tomatoes off the vine. Such as-
- Tomatoes are still green at the end of the season.
- Winter comes earlier.
- Temperature drops and is constant before the winter comes.
- Tomatoes ripen late.
- Fruits don’t reach their maturity date yet on the first frost date.
- Short growing season.
Whatever the situation is when you face it, just pick all of your tomatoes at once before the first frost date and ripen them off the vine. Ripening tomatoes off the vine means ripening them at indoor room temperature by applying different methods.
Methods of Picking Your Last Tomatoes
You must pick all of your tomatoes before the first frost appears. Frost makes your tomatoes withers and the texture soft and pulpy. So, the fruits won’t be edible if you don’t pick them before frost.
There are two simple ways to pick your tomatoes:
1: Picking Individual Tomatoes
Pick each of your tomatoes by hand or using a pruning scissor. Leave a short stem that attaches to fruits when picking them to avoid rotting problems.
2: Pull Up the Whole Tomato Plants, Including Roots
In this method, you can pull up the whole tomato plant that holds green fruits by its roots to ripen them.
After pulling up, remove the extra dirt that sticks to the roots by shaking. Then hang up the tomato plants with fruits upside down in your basement, garage, or some dark, cool place to let them ripe.
Check them every one or two days. Pick up the tomatoes once they are ripe. After finishing the harvest, through the tomato plants into your compost pile.
Sorting Green Tomatoes to Ripen
At first, sort your green tomatoes when you pick them individually rather than pull up the entire plants. You may get different color stages of tomatoes when you pick them at the season’s end. Such as:
- Immature green: Fruits are neither developed inside nor in actual size.
- Mature green: Fruits are developed inside with bright green color on the surface and reach their actual size.
- Breaker: Break the green color and show a tarnish-pink or yellow color at the blossom end of tomatoes around 10% of the fruit surface.
- Turning: Up to 30% of the fruit surface turns to tarnish-pink, yellow, orange, or other colors according to the tomato varieties.
- Pink: Up to 60% of the fruit surface turns its color.
- Light red: Up to 90% of the fruit surface turns its color.
- Red: Perfect color with mild or semi-firmness.
Most of the time, green and breaker stages tomatoes need extra effort to ripen indoors. Turning and advanced stages tomatoes ripen automatically if you keep them on the kitchen counter at room temperature.
Wash and Dry Your Green Tomatoes Before Start Ripen
Usually, late-season tomatoes can hold various fungi and molds. So, don’t forget to wash your fresh green tomatoes with water or a light bleach solution after harvesting. This will help to remove dirt, bugs, funguses, and other molds that stick to the tomatoes.
Then dry them completely before they start ripening. Water droplets on tomatoes can develop spots or molds during ripening them in an enclosed space.
Methods of Ripen Green Tomatoes
You may get many different ways to ripen green tomatoes indoors. Here I discuss some common methods to ripen your tomatoes.
1: Cardboard Box Method Through Wrapping Green Tomatoes in Newspaper
If you need to harvest a lot of tomatoes to save them from frost, then the cardboard box method will work better.
First of all, wash and dry to make your tomatoes sanitize from dirt, bugs, and other fungi. Then collect some cardboard boxes as your demand.
Wrapping each green tomato in black and white newspaper and keep them into a cardboard box. It helps them to separate each other and absorb the extra fruit moisture. Besides it also reduces the chances of fruit rotting. Avoid using any colored newspaper because it contains harmful chemicals that often bleed over into the tomatoes. Don’t make more than two layers of tomatoes in a box.
Keep a semi-ripe banana or an apple inside the box to boost up the ripening process. If you want to rip your tomatoes faster, keep an unripe banana or apple inside the cardboard box.
You can also speed up or slow down the ripening process by simply controlling the room temperature.
For example, it will take around 18-28 days to ripen your mature green tomatoes if you keep them at 55° F room temperature. As well you can ripen them within 7-14 days if the room temperature is 77° F.
2: Paper Bag Method
The paper bag method is another way to ripe your green tomatoes. In this method-
- Take a brown paper grocery or lunch bag based on your fruit volume.
- Keep some of your tomatoes in a paper bag with an apple or banana.
- Take several paper bags if you have a large number of fruits.
- Don’t put too many fruits in a single paper bag. It may cause fruit rot.
- Roll up the top of the paper bags and keep them at room temperature between 55° F to 77°F.
- Check every one or two days to sort and pick the ripe tomatoes.
- Remove those tomatoes if you get any sign of mold on them.
- Remember putting green banana with tomatoes make the ripening process faster.
3: Plastic Bag Method
This is very similar to the paper bag method.
- First, make some small holes in the plastic bag for air circulation. It helps to control moisture and reduce fruit rot.
- Then put the tomatoes in the plastic bag with the green banana. And avoid putting too many tomatoes in one plastic bag.
- Keep your tomatoes in a dry and dark location. You may also hang the bag in some places where it doesn’t touch anything.
- Check regularly to get ripened tomatoes and remove the ones which get a sign of fruit rotting.
- Keep the room temperature between 55° F to 77°F.
- Tomato ripening time may depend on the type of banana you use and the room temperature.
4: Jar Method
This method is best suited for smaller cherry-type tomatoes.
- First, wash and dry your tomatoes properly.
- Then put a small ripe banana in an air-tight glass canister or jar with your small tomatoes.
- After that, lock the jar and place it in a warm area but away from the light.
- Avoid putting any green bananas inside the jar in this method because they ripen the tomatoes faster and may increase the chance of fruit rotting.
- Check them regularly. They will ripen within 7-14 days, depending on the temperature.
5: Windowsill Method
This is the traditional way to ripen your tomatoes. If you have a handful of tomatoes, you can apply this method.
In this method, you just keep your tomatoes on a sunny windowsill and place them on the stem side down. This will protect your tomatoes from the bruise and stop rolling.
You can also put your tomatoes into a net bag and hang them somewhere sunlight is available. Within a few days, they will be ripe.
I don’t encourage this method because your tomatoes may rot or not be edible if you keep them in the sunlight for a long time. Tomatoes need warmth, not light, to rip.
How to Use Immature Green Tomatoes?
Immature green tomatoes don’t develop inside properly once harvested them. Moreover, they don’t even develop a flavor like ripen tomatoes once ripe. Whatever that doesn’t mean they are waste.
So, set aside your immature green tomatoes and apply different recipes. There are a lot of food recipes for green tomatoes that you can try, like fried green tomatoes.
How Long Does It Take to Ripen Green Tomatoes Following the Above Methods?
There are three basic things to consider before counting how long it takes to ripen green tomatoes.
Presence of Ethylene Gas
Tomato produces ethylene gas naturally to ripen them. More ethylene gas means ripening tomatoes faster. So, adding fruits like apples, bananas, avocados, or some other fruits that release ethylene gas naturally helps the ripening process faster.
Besides, unripe bananas or apples produce more ethylene gas than ripe ones. So this also matters how long it takes to ripen your tomatoes.
Tomatoes ripen better when the room temperature remains between 55°-77° F. If the room temperature goes down below 55° F or rises above 77° F, then the ripening process will be slower.
Moreover, when the temperature goes lower than 50° F or higher than 86° F in both situations, tomatoes stop ripening.
So, make sure your room temperature is good enough to ripen your green tomatoes.
Tomato Ripening Methods
The duration for ripening your tomatoes also depends on the method you applied for ripening them. Different methods take a different lengths of time to ripen green tomatoes.
So, based on the above parameters your mature green tomatoes will take around 3-4 weeks to ripen if the temperature remains at 55° F. On the other hand, it will take around 1-2 weeks if the room temperature remains at 77° F.
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