Many of our customers have come into the store worried because they still have tons of tomatoes left on the vine that are green, and the weather isn’t going to cooperate in helping the ripening process.
Today I picked all of my tomatoes. I am not going to take the chance that they get hit with frost (I know, it really is way too early, but the nights have been fairly cold)and I have waited for what seems like ever to even get a few off the vine ripe.
Here are a few ways to help ripen your tomatoes if you are in the same predicament as us weather wise.
1. In a cardboard box: Line the box with newspaper (or use fruit cardboard if it came from a grocery store) and place the green tomatoes on top in a single layer with a little space between each. Cover with another single layer of newspaper and leave somewhere warm. Check regularly. I actually wrapped my tomatoes individually and did this.
2. In a paper bag: Put 5 -10 tomatoes in a paper bag with a ripening banana, apple or tomato and leave in a warm place. Periodically open it up to check for any that show signs of mould or rotting. The ethylene gas in the other fruit helps with the ripening process.
3. Large glass jars or plastic bags: Another way to concentrate the effect of ethylene involves placing 2-4 large tomatoes in a jar or bag along with a ripening fruit and then sealing it. However, the combination of moisture and warmth can encourage mould so it is usually best to put holes in the bag or regularly open and check the jar.
4. Hang up the whole plant: Useful at the end of the season when a frost is forecast, the whole tomato plant can be gently pulled up and then hung upside down in a garage or cellar where temperatures will remain above freezing. This is said to produce better flavoured tomatoes than the other methods. I actually would have done this, if I had done my research BEFORE I picked them all :)
For each of these methods the best results come from tomatoes that are already starting to show a yellowy-orange tinge indicating that they are ready to ripen. You can have success with fully green tomatoes but they will take longer and may not be as tasty.
At lower temperatures 10-15°C (50-60°F) ripening typically takes 3-4 weeks whereas at 18-21°C (65-70°F) they can take just 2 weeks. By storing batches at different temperatures you can stagger the ripening to make the most of your harvest although anything much lower than 10°C (50°F) will yield poorer quality results.
What to watch out for when ripening indoors:
The biggest problem when ripening tomatoes indoors is diseased or damaged fruit. Tomatoes must be protected from being bruised or squashed so they should not be piled up. Good air circulation will help prevent mould forming. It is sensible to do a check every day or two, removing any fruit that looks suspect or like it is going to rot.
Regular checking is particularly important if you are ripening tomatoes indoors because your plants suffered from a disease such as blight before the crop was ready. In such cases a useful technique is to ‘grade’ the tomatoes before storing them, separating out unblemished ones from lower quality fruit. Select only the very best ones for ripening and dispose of any diseased fruit in a safe way. I have used this technique with some success this year for my own tomatoes that succumbed to blight and found the key was getting them off the plant at the very first sign of the disease.
If you have had good luck ripening tomatoes, or even have a good recipe for using green ones then please do add a comment below…
Here is a recipe I posted a few months ago for Fried Green Tomatoes if all else fails, these are amazingly delicious.
My friend Janis has an delicious recipe for roasted tomatoes that I am totally addicted to making. My tomatoes cannot ripen fast enough. These are great to freeze after they are cooked and make great spaghetti sauce, check out her blog and post here!!
Happy Fall everyone!!
PS…Tonight is the Keith Urban concert :) just saying…