How to Ripen Green Tomatoes

You can coax the tomato-ripening process from green to red with these helpful tips.

Wondering how to ripen green tomatoes? Towards the end of the summer, when temperatures drop at night that means a slow down on your garden tomatoes’ ripening process, ripening can seem to take longer than usual. Green tomatoes take forever to ripen. Cold is definitely the wrong climate for tomatoes. Is there a way to ripen green tomatoes? Yes, you caan coax the ripening process from green to red when tomatoes are taken indoors. Tomatoes actually need warmth and not sun to ripen. So turn your tomatoes from green to red inside by keeping them warm (an indoor temperature of about 70º F is perfect).

Here’s How To Ripen Green Tomatoes Indoors

First, choose mature fruits that are at their full or nearly full size and slightly softened with a hint of color on the blossom end. Once you bring them inside, it’s advisable not to wash them unless you want to save a fruit after losing the plants to disease (remember to dry them thoroughly). Otherwise, refrain from washing them until you’re ready to consume them, as any moisture left on the tomato could lead to mold.

Then try these methods to turn those green tomatoes red:

1. Paper Bag Method

Ripen green tomatoes indoors using our tips.
Selection of finest Italian organic tomatoes in the paper bag

To ripen green tomatoes, place them in a closed paper bag and store them in a warm location. By keeping the tomatoes together, the ethylene they emit will promote ripening. You can speed up the process by adding a ripe banana or apple. Once a tomato ripens, remove it from the bag and consume it promptly. Remember to check the bag daily for any signs of mold or rot and discard any spoiled tomatoes.

2. Box Method

If you have multiple green tomatoes that you want to ripen, a cardboard box can be a useful tool. Place the tomatoes in the box, making sure they do not touch each other. Adding a ripe banana to the box can also speed up the ripening process. Close the box and, just like with the bag-ripening method, check daily for any signs of mold, rot, or full ripening, and remove those tomatoes accordingly.

3. The Windowsill Approach

Cherry tomatoes ripening indoors from green to red.
Green tomatoes ripening in the sun on a windowsill.

Try this method if your tomatoes have already started to show some ripened color: simply place them on a windowsill that receives sunlight. Check them daily to monitor their progress. Additionally, you can transfer tomatoes that are ripening in a bag or box to the windowsill once they begin to show signs of color and allow them to continue ripening there.

4. Hanging Upside Down Method

Some gardeners pull up the entire plant – roots, fruits, and all – and hang it upside down in a location indoors.  The theory is that the plant, while alive, will send all its available energy to the fruit. You should shake off as much of the soil as possible before hanging, then check the progress daily.

Keep in mind the following:

  • Tomatoes tend to ripen best with part of the stem left on.
  • These methods should ripen fruit in about 7-14 days, or sooner.
  • Green tomatoes that are not yet mature cannot ripen once picked.
  • These methods do not enhance flavor. No tomato is going to be as delicious as field ripened. But, it’s a better option than having them go to waste.
  • Be sure to keep tomatoes at room temperature during the indoor ripening process. Do not refrigerate them, as this will ruin their flavor.

If you need to pick the tomatoes, and don’t want to wait to ripen them, eating them green can be an option as well. Try these delicious recipes:

Keep Learning

Fried Green Tomatoes

Green Tomato-Pepper Relish

Green Tomato Pie

Join The Discussion!

Have you had success by following our guide?

What questions do you still have about tomatoes?

Let us know in the comments below!

We are looking forward to hearing from you.

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Laura Modlin

Laura Modlin is an environmental journalist, blogger, foodie and nature fan. She writes for newspapers and magazines, and maintains a blog about a simpler life. She co-founded a river conservation project in Connecticut. Her mission is to inspire deeper connections with the natural world and a desire to protect it.

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I have pear tomatoes that are not turning yellow. They are over grown, they should have turned yellow. Do you have any suggestions. I live in a desert climate.

Barry Thompson

All good information. I surely would like to print this tip for future reference- There should be an easy way to accomplish this…


I need to clean out my garden, but still have plenty of green tomatoes on the vines. Would they continue to ripen if I cut the vines, with the tomatoes on them, and bring them inside?


My grandmothers tried and true method is a combination of a couple of your suggestions. Take your partially ripe or green tomatoes, WRAP INDIVIDUALLY with newspaper, then layer in a paperbox no more than 3 tomatoes deep….the more layers, the more likely to experience rot. I will put the greenest tomatoes on the bottom since they take the longest and ones with some color and closer to ripe on the top so they are easy to access those almost ready to eat. Store the box in a cool, dry, dark place and they will continue to ripen on their own. If you have done this correctly, you could have a fresh garden tomato to eat until after the New Year. I have used them even into February before….and they are ripe without rotting. Do check for ripe ones throughout the box weekly. If they are ripe, they will continue to ripen and eventually rot, so you need to put those ripe ones in your fridge or on your counter to use. This will keep those other ones not yet ripe safe to continue to ripen in the box. If you are looking to quickly ripen all your tomatoes for your salsa or spaghetti sauce, you should try one of the methods above. My method allows them to ripen slower for long-term use. Good gardening to you 🙂

MelvinI Reeves

Been doing what you said I put in my greenhouse and the house


I had several underripe tomatoes fall off the vines when I was pruning and tying up my plants yesterday. Several of them are not mature and very green. Can they be used for anything, or should I compost them?

Susan Higgins

Hi Karrie, Green tomatoes that fall off the vine are immature and need a little coaxing. You can ripen them using the methods in the story such as the paper bag method. It will take up to 10 days (be sure to check them daily for rot). After that time, whatever stays green you can try making fried green tomatoes! We have a recipe for that here:

Randy Snyder

Have roughly 50 green cherry tomatoes, should I put all of them in the bag? Makes me angry still have yellow blossoms on the vine and back to sixties later inthe week probably won’t make it but we will see.

Sandi Duncan

Hi Randy,
Yes try putting them in a paper bag and check on them every now and again. But it works. Good luck.


I’m 2 hours south of Chicago. My best method is to start removing blossoms in late August knowing there is not enough time left for vine ripening. I’ve also used frost blankets to try to save produce when the temperatures are up and down. It’s a lot of work but worth the effort.


My Dad, in the 1970s, used to pick the large, perfect green tomatoes from his garden, just before the frost. Then he wrapped each one individually in a half-sheet of newspaper, and arranged them, stem side down, in a single layer in a broad, shallow, cardboard carton/tray. Then he slid the box under my away-at-college brother’s bed, checking the ripening process regularly, and we had red, ripe tomatoes for Thanksgiving, or sooner.


I’ve already picked them. Any other ripening suggestions?


Very helpful , going to try thz

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