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Tomatoes are one of the most famous garden plants, and understanding how to ripen them is essential, especially when growing them. Tomatoes are incredibly rewarding plants to have in your garden and are relatively easy to grow. For the same reason, many beginner gardeners prefer growing them as they produce gorgeous fruit that can be used in various dishes. But as the end of the growing season approaches, you may notice many tomatoes aren’t quite ripe. We are here to tell you there is no room to feel worried. These tomatoes range in colour from purple to deep green, and today, we will share the best methods on how to ripen green tomatoes to prepare them for harvest.
Ripen Tomatoes on the Vine
Did you know tomatoes stop ripening when exposed to cold temperatures? Knowing this, all you need to do is pick up the plants and move them inside where the temperature is slightly warmer. Consider placing them near windows in direct sunlight. The ideal temperature to ripen green tomatoes is 21 °C (70 °F).
Use row covers
If your plants aren’t potted and the maturing season ends soon, the best answer to how to ripen green tomatoes is to cover them. You can use a blanket or a row cover to help ripen plants in the last few days before the weather gets cold. Make sure to cover them completely so no parts are coming out. Then, check on them on a daily basis to pick the fruits which have ripened.
Top Tip: You can take off the covering during the day so the plants get enough sunlight, and then cover them again before nightfall.
Storing in a bag or box
If the weather has not yet become cold and you still have green fruits, you can finish the process of ripening tomatoes indoors. Pick the green ones and be careful not to bruise or crush any. After this, you can inspect them and dispose of the damaged ones. Leave the stems attached, as it would help them ripen better. Before you begin the process, wash the tomatoes thoroughly and remove mould spores, as they can cause damage during ripening. After that, dry them using a towel.
After you are finished following these steps, you can place the tomatoes in a paper bag or a cardboard box. If you have a smaller number of tomatoes, you can use a smaller bag, but arrange them so they don’t touch one another. In addition, don’t forget to seal the bag because tomatoes need an ethylene-rich environment to ripen properly. By closing the bag, you can trap the ethylene and help tomatoes absorb as much as they can.
Top Tip: A great answer to how to ripen green tomatoes is to add a banana with green ends to the bag or the box where you are storing them. This is because bananas naturally produce ethylene, the chemical that boosts the ripening process. Ensure you use a slightly underripe banana to get the best results.
Digging up the tomato plant
If your tomato plant is not potted, you can dig it up and transfer it inside, as this is a great alternative to how to ripen tomatoes on the vine. You can place it in a dry location to let the remaining tomatoes fully ripen.
Using breathable container
If you wish to speed up the ripening process, here is an effective solution you should try. Grab a breathable container with small holes cut into it. You can use a cardboard container and place the tomatoes inside, but ensure not to overcrowd them. By allowing the tomatoes to breathe inside the container, tomatoes trap some of the ethylene gas they release, which ripens them quickly.
One of the biggest issues you may encounter while figuring out how to ripen tomatoes indoors is diseased or damaged fruit. You must protect them from being squashed or brushed, so ensure they have plenty of room for air circulation to prevent mould from forming.
The best time to harvest tomatoes
As you have learned by now, the plants produce ethylene gas, which helps ripen green tomatoes. The gas causes the cells of the tomatoes to lose their green colour, turning them into a shade of red. This increases carotenoids ( red and yellow pigments) while decreasing chlorophyll (the green pigment).
As for the best time to pick tomatoes, there truly isn’t one. You should feel free to pick them wherever you want as long as they have reached their mature size. It would be safe to harvest them even when they are green, as long as you allow them to ripen off the vine by using some of the techniques we have mentioned above.
Finally, once your tomatoes turn red, they are ripe and ready to use. You can now pick the ripe ones and enjoy them within a week of removing them for optimal taste and freshness.
Tips on How to Successful Ripen Green Tomatoes
Here are a few tips to help you succeed in the process of ripening tomatoes. Follow these essential tips to enjoy juicy tomatoes this season:
- Avoid storing tomatoes in a humid environment as it encourages the decaying process.
- As long as you can try keeping green tomatoes on the vine, but pick them up before the first frost.
- Place the green tomatoes on the kitchen countertop away from the sun, and they will slowly begin to ripe.
- Pinch off any flowers or tiny fruits on the tomato so that your plant can focus its energy on larger fruits.
- Try reducing the amount of water you give to your tomatoes. It will encourage the tomatoes to ripen faster.
With this, we conclude our list of tips on how to ripen green tomatoes. We hope our article has provided enough information so you can make the most of your early harvest of tomatoes, regardless of how you mature them.