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4 Easy Ways To Ripen Green Tomatoes Indoors

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

In many parts of the country, summer temps are over. Cooler temps at night and leaves are changing. Some are even glad for sweater weather. Not your tomatoes, though. Cold is definitely the wrong climate for them. People are casting wistful glances at their tomato plants with an eye for getting the most from a flavorful harvest before it’s too late and frost takes the crop.

You can coax the ripening process from green to red when tomatoes are taken indoors—a much better plan than leaving them to wither on their vines. The key to ripening tomatoes is a warm, enclosed and dry environment. Tomatoes need warmth to ripen (an indoor temperature of about 70º F).

How To Ripen Green Tomatoes Indoors

First, pick the fruits that are mature, at their full—or nearly full—size, and softened a bit with a blush of color on the blossom end. Once you have them inside, wash and dry the tomatoes thoroughly. Then try these methods to turn those green tomatoes red:

  1. In the bag: To ripen a few green tomatoes, put them in a paper bag, close it up, and store in a warm location in your home. Kept enclosed together, the ethylene they emit will stimulate ripening. You can add a ripe banana or apple as well to speed things up. Once a tomato is ripe, remove it from the bag and enjoy it right away. Check the bag daily for mold or rot and remove any spoiled pieces.
  2. Box method: If you have several green tomatoes you want to ripen, consider using a cardboard box. Place them in the box so they do not touch one another. You can add a ripe banana as well.

 Close the box and, as with the bag-ripening method, check daily for mold and rot, or full ripening, and remove those tomatoes.
  3. The windowsill approach: Try this if your tomatoes have already started to show some ripened color. Simply put them on the sill of a window that gets sunlight. Inspect them daily for progress.

You can also remove tomatoes you have ripening in a bag or box once they start showing signs of color and continue their ripening on the window sill.
  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:

Fried Green Tomatoes

Green Tomato-Pepper Relish

Green Tomato Pie

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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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.

JOAN KELLY

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.

Gale

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

Jo

Very helpful , going to try thz

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