How to Ripen Green Tomatoes Naturally

May 25, 2012 by

how to ripen green tomatoes

Last year, I had to bring my tomatoes inside before the frost. My plants were loaded with tomatoes, and I didn’t want to have them get ruined. If you’re like me, you will have a lot of tomatoes that are still on your tomato plant towards the end of harvesting season. Learning how to ripen green tomatoes is easy. Here are some often asked questions about Ripening Green Tomatoes:

Q: Do I Need to Bring the Whole Plant into My Garage?

I have often heard people say that you need to bring the whole plant into your garage to ripen your tomatoes. I don’t think you need to do that, but I do think it is a good idea to try to leave the stands on your tomatoes to help them ripen without drying out. Last year I brought in all of my plants, and it made a mess in my garage. This year I’m going to try to just bring in the tomatoes and the stems, and hopefully they will ripen just as well.

Q: Do I need to separate the tomatoes so they are not touching?

No, you can put all of your tomatoes in one box. However, you might use a few of them. When one tomato gets rotten, it can cause others to rot as well. If you have the space, it is a bit better to separate them by putting them on cookie sheets.

ripening green tomatoes

Q: What Is the Best Way to Store Green tomatoes?

If you are storing over the winter, you probably want to keep them either under your house, or in your garage. The temperatures should be below 60°. You can even ripen them in your fridge if you have to. If I take a tomato that is a little too green during the summer, I want it to ripen quickly. I will probably just leave it on my windowsill for a day or two, and then it will turn dark red.


Q: Do I Need to Wrap My Tomatoes up in a Paper Bag in Order to Get Them to Ripen?

Sure, you can do this if you don’t have too many green tomatoes, but I think that it is a lot of work. Tomatoes will ripen on their own. They might ripen a bit faster if you keep them in the dark, but they will ripen just the same. Last year, the tomato plants that I brought into my garage gave us plenty of tomatoes to last us through Christmas. Some of the tomatoes took six weeks to fully ripen.

Q: What Should I Do If I Have a Potted Tomato Plant?

The best thing to do if you have a potted tomato plant is to just bring it into your home and put it next to a window. For the next few months, it can be a houseplant, producing ripe and delicious tomatoes for you. This way you will keep the tomato plant from freezing, and it will still be producing tomatoes for a few more months.

Q: Do Green tomatoes That Get Ripen Indoors Taste As Good?

No, the best way to eat a tomato is when it is ripened in full sunlight. However, you can still have very delicious tomato even when you ripen them yourself. If your tomatoes are not sweet enough to eat plain, you can cut them up and use them in a spaghetti sauce, or you can make a stew out of them. One blogger even recommended that you flame broil them at 450°. That way they will have a very distinct and smokey flavor to them.

Q: Will All of My Tomatoes Ripen Indoors?

If you have a lot of tomatoes to ripen, probably not. They will nearly all turn red, but some of them you still wouldn’t want to eat. There can be a few of them that get rotten that you might have to throw out. Don’t worry about those, just keep the good tomatoes, and get rid of the ones that don’t make it. Last year, I’ve brought in about 60 tomatoes from four of my tomato plants. 75% of them ripened without any problem over the course of the next six weeks. The rest of them only ripened a little, or they already have holes in them, and I ended up using them to fatten up my Christmas turkeys.

By the way, if your tomato plants are already frozen, you won’t be able to ripen them. If your Green tomatoes have a mushy center, they have already frozen, and they won’t ripen very well. Try to mark the frost date on your counter, or else look at the weather forecast. Bring your tomatoes in before the tomato leaves and the tomato plants freeze.

how to ripen green tomatoesQ: How Long Does It Take to Ripen Green Tomatoes?

The time it takes when ripening green tomatoes just depends on the maturity of the tomato at the time that you pick it, and how you store it. Some tomato plants will ripen in just a few days once you bring them inside. Some tomato plants will take 6 to 8 weeks to fully ripen.

Q: Should I Bring My Whole Plant?

A lot of gardeners suggest that you should bring in your whole plant. I don’t think that is necessary. Your green tomatoes will ripen just fine if you cut off the vine that the tomatoes are on. Bring the tomatoes in on the vine and put them in a cool place such as a pantry, a cellar, a basement, or your garage.

Q: What If My Tomatoes Have Bites in Them?

When I am bringing in my tomatoes for the winter, I usually leave the ones that have bites in them. These could be birds, or they could be from caterpillars. Either way, I don’t bring them into my home over the winter, because I don’t want them to rot my other tomatoes. When you’re bringing your tomatoes in for the winter, just make sure to bring in all the healthy ones.

Q: Is Ripening Green Tomatoes Hard To Do?

Ripening Green tomatoes isn’t hard to do at all. Just make sure that you bring them in before the frost, and that you store them in a dry, cool place. Check on them regularly, once every three or four days. Bring in the tomatoes that look good enough to eat, and if you find any that are starting to rot, get rid of them right away. Compared to growing a garden, this is really the easy part! Even if you live in the northern United States, you should be able to have a steady supply of homegrown tomatoes for six months out of the year, once you learn how to ripen Green tomatoes indoors.

* Sources: Cooking Green Tomatoes

* You may also want to read our article on  “Tomato Plants Yellow Leaves and What to Do About it?

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