How to ripen green tomatoes
Fall is a time to harvest the fruits of all your hard labor during the summer. But what happens if your tomato plants are full of green tomatoes. There may not be enough time to ripen them before the first frost. So you need to know how to ripen green tomatoes
Don’t worry there are several ways to ripen and enjoy your tomatoes.
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How long does it take to ripen tomatoes
Tomatoes on average take 20 – 30 days for a flower to full size mature green tomato.
It can then take another 20 to 30 days on average to ripen.
Tomatoes need the right temperature to ripen. The best temperature to ripen tomatoes is between 68 -78 degrees. With temperatures less than 55 or more than 85 degrees, your tomatoes with stop ripening.
So what do you do if you don’t have 20 days of low 70-degree weather?
In the garden ripening
How to ripen green tomatoes that are still on the vine
Remove unnecessary energy draws.
Start by removing any very small, immature fruit. There is little chance they will ripen but they will use up a lot of energy. Also remove suckers, flowers and some excess foliage. Be careful to leave enough foliage for the plant to still get energy from the sun.
Row covers or hoop house
You can keep the plant warmer by putting on a row cover or hoop house. This can be done fairly easily but simply putting clear plastic over the plants’ stakes. You can add a few taller stakes if you need them. Make sure your plants have room between the plastic and the leaves. No need to build anything complicated since it is very temporary. Regular clear 6 mil construction plastic will be fine for a temporary hoop house. If it rains make sure the water can runoff.
You can also encourage the energy to go to fruit ripening if you cut the roots.
Your tomato plant will go into survival mode as the temperatures get cooler. Your plant will divert energy from fruit ripening to root growth. To stop the roots from growing, take a flat-ended shovel and cut into the soil around the plant about 6″ deep in a circle about 12″ from the plant.
This will redirect the energy to the fruit.
All of this will buy you time but if it gets too cold you may decide to pick the fruit and ripen indoors.
Here’s a good article about pruning tomatoes in general for high production.
How to ripen green tomatoes once they have been picked.
In a box
The best way the ripen green tomatoes is to put the tomatoes in a cardboard box.
A few helpful things to remember;
1) Remove any rotten or damaged fruit right away. Rot on one piece will spread quickly to other fruit.
2) keep the box in a well-ventilated area. Also, keep a few inches between each piece to help with ventilation.
3) put the tomatoes stem side down. This will help prevent damage to the fruit.
4) put fruit on pieces of paper towels to help absorb any moisture
5) to speed the ripening you can put a banana in the box. If you don’t have a banana an apple will do just as well
How to have fresh tomatoes in December from your summer garden
Remembering that tomatoes don’t ripen in temperatures lower than 55 degrees and over 85 degrees you can control when your tomatoes ripen.
Put tomatoes in a well-ventilated area where the temperature stays lower than 55 degrees. Remove the tomatoes as you need them. It will take up to a week to ripen with the help of warmer temperatures and a banana.
Your tomatoes will keep for up to 3 months in a cool area. If you time it right you can serve your garden tomatoes for Thanksgiving!
Of course you can continue to enjoy fresh tomatoes all year if you garden indoors!
Check out how to grow a tomato cutting in water. You can easily move your garden indoors for the winter easily and in just a few days.
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