How to Ripen Green Tomatoes
Learning how to ripen green tomatoes is an essential part of growing the fruit. Whether you grow small cherry tomatoes or large beef toms, this is a useful skill to have.
Allowing fruit to ripen on the vine often results in better tasting products that have a deeper, richer color. However, there are a number of reasons why you may need to ripen your fruit away from the vine. For example, being able to pick green fruits and rip them on the vine helps prevent your plants from becoming overcrowded and the fruits that are left on the vine from rotting.
It is also a useful way to prevent waste. When the growing season draws to a close and temperatures start to drop, you may end up with a lot of unripe fruit that won’t ripen in time. Instead of wasting the harvest, learning how to ripen green tomatoes allows you to enjoy your fruit for longer.
If you want to learn how to ripen green tomatoes, this guide is for you.
Learning how to artificially ripen unripe fruit is a beneficial skill that helps you get the most out of your fruit yield.
What makes tomatoes ripen?
Before you start looking at how to ripen green tomatoes, it helps to briefly review the ripening process and what affects it.
A sunny windowsill, despite popular belief, is not the best place to put your green tomatoes if you want them to ripen. Watch how the fruit ripens on the vine. You will notice that the fruit begins to ripen on the side away from the sun. This reveals that while light can help, it is not the key ingredient for fruit ripening.
In fact, the temperature is much more important in the process. The warmer the temperatures, the faster the ripening process.
At warm temperatures, those which average between 65 and 70 ℉, it takes about 2 weeks for the fruit to ripen. If you want to slow down the process, simply place the fruit in a cooler place. Lowering the average temperature around your fruit to around 50 to 60 ℉ extends the time it takes for them to ripen by an additional 2 weeks. A digital thermometer, such as the ThermoPro TP50 Digital Thermometer, provides an easy-to-use way to monitor temperatures around your ripening fruit.
Fruits ripen faster in warm temperatures.
Storing the crops at different temperatures allows the maturation time to be staggered. This allows you to enjoy your harvest of fresh fruit even longer. If you store fruits at different temperatures, do not store them in conditions below 10 ℉ and definitely do not place them in the refrigerator. Storing fruits at too cold temperatures can adversely affect their quality and spoil the flavor.
The hormone ethylene also speeds up the ripening process. This is naturally produced by many different fruits. Some of the heavier ethylene producers include:
Placing fruit near one of these fruits is an easy and natural way to speed up the ripening process.
How to select green tomatoes for ripening
The best results usually come with fruits that are already taking on a yellow-orange hue. This change in color means that the fruit is already starting to ripen. The methods described here work on both semi-ripe and fully immature fruits. Keep in mind that green fruit takes longer to ripen and may not taste as tasty.
As summer draws to a close and temperatures begin to drop, remove any remaining flowers from the plant. These will not have time to develop ripe fruits. Allowing them to stay in place wastes the remaining energy of the plants. Instead, by removing these flowers, the plant is encouraged to direct its energy to help the existing fruit turn red and ripe.
You can also trim the top of the plant and any excess foliage. This helps light and heat to reach your ripening fruit.
When harvesting, do not pick the fruits of the plant. Instead, use a small garden chisel to cut it off the plant. Tomatoes ripen best if a small part of the stem remains on the fruit. Inspect the fruit as you harvest it and discard damaged specimens. Take care during harvesting and storage not to spoil or damage the fruit. Damaged fruit can spoil during storage, potentially ruining a harvest.
Select only the healthiest specimens. Bruised or damaged fruit can spoil and, if not noticed, can ruin the entire harvest.
When storing your fruits, don’t stack them all on top of each other. Leave each tomato a little space so that air can circulate freely around the fruit. This helps prevent mold.
Remember to check your fruit regularly and throw away any that show signs of spoilage.
How to ripen green tomatoes
Line your box with newspaper. Arrange the unripe fruits in a single layer, making sure there is some space between them. You can also wrap each tomato individually in a sheet of newspaper, but this is not strictly necessary. Cover the fruits with a sheet of newspaper and place them in a calm, warm position.
You can also place the fruit in an empty wooden drawer, fruit bowl, or paper bag. If you are using a paper bag, try to limit the amount of fruit you put in each bag. Depending on the size of the bag and the fruit, place between 5 and 10 toms in each bag.
Remember to check the fruit daily for signs of spoilage. Remove the ripe fruits and let the others continue to ripen. Nearly ripe fruit can be placed on a warm windowsill. If you want to speed up the process even more, add a banana or apple to the box.
Some people recommend ripening unripe fruit in a large glass jar. However, I would avoid this method. Moisture can easily build up in the jar and spoil your fruit.
How to ripen a whole plant
This alternative method is just as reliable as harvesting the fruits and allows them to ripen individually. At the end of the growing season, just before the first expected frost date, remove the entire plant from the soil.
Hang the plant upside down in an unheated garage or basement where temperatures stay above freezing. This allows the fruit to continue to ripen on the vine. Many growers prefer this method because it often produces better and tastier fruit than other methods.
Ripening grapevine fruit helps reduce waste and allows you to enjoy your locally grown fruit for longer.
Finally, don’t let fruit that you can’t ripen go to waste. Any remaining green toms can be made into a delicious green tomato chutney.
Learning how to ripen green tomatoes is an essential part of knowing how to grow tomatoes. Not only does this help avoid waste, it also allows you to get the most out of your return. Allowing you to enjoy the fruits of your garden even longer.