Tips for Ripening Green Tomatoes

Get Ready for cold weather. We’ve been waiting all season for our tomatoes to ripen. What do we do when you know that a hard frost is going to hit and you still have lots of green ones on the vine? After ripening green tomatoes inside, I’ve had tomatoes into November and then I’m done. I won’t eat another tomato till the following season-July or August. A long wait but consider me a tomato snob as the store-bought tomatoes are never very good.

Tips on ripening tomatoes inside:
-Become a weather bug-we should check the weather for when the first freeze will arrive which historically comes mid-October here in Santa Fe.

This week Sunday through Monday is forecasted to get pretty cold at night–down to 34°F. This is not freezing (32°) but I will check the weather again on Saturday to see if it changes and if they predict a freeze or not. If it stays above 32°F, I will leave them as quite often we can squeeze out a few more weeks of decent weather for them.

-Pick em before the freeze-Pick all decent size green tomatoes and ripen inside. Leave the little ones. Ripening green tomatoes will never taste as good as sun-ripened tomatoes but they are still much better than store bought tomatoes. If you pick after the freeze, they will be ruined.

-Sort the tomatoes-Sort from rock hard green to almost ripe and put them in grocery paper bags and fold over the top. That way you don’t have to go through each bag every day and pull out the ones that are ripening sooner.
 Put them 2 layers deep.

-Use a slice of apple-In the bags with the green ones, I will put a slice of apple in the bag to help encourage ripening. An apple releases ethylene gas (the tomatoes produce this as well) which helps the ripening process. That is why you fold over the bag to help trap the gas that both the tomatoes and apple are releasing.

-Check bags every few days-When they start to change color, I pull those out and put them in other bags where they are all similar in the ripening stage.

-Leave them stem side up-they won’t rot as quickly.

-Almost ripe tomatoes-When your tomatoes are almost ripe, to increase flavor, pull them from the bags and place in a warm spot in your house a couple of days before you want to use them.

-Storage-Be sure to store them in a room that is at least 55 degrees. I made the mistake once and they didn’t have much flavor and many didn’t ripen at all. If they won’t ripen or aren’t flavorful they were probably stored in too cool a place or perhaps they were too small to begin with.

-Green tomatoes-Lastly you can always pickle green tomatoes or cook with them!

Better gobble up all the ripe tomatoes that you can! Soon the season will be over and we will be longing for flavorful ripe tomatoes again!



11 comments on “Tips for Ripening Green Tomatoes

  1. John says:

    Timely tip Jannine – I’ve got a bunch of green tomatoes


  2. Bridget Boyle says:

    Oh, it makes me sad when tomato time is over. Thanks for the reminder.


  3. Elodie says:

    works like a charm!


  4. mike says:

    Thanks for the tips. What causes tomatoes not to ripen? I have healthy plants that produced fruit late but did not ripen.

    Sent from my iPad


    • They are probably still green for one of 2 reasons.
      1. You planted a late harvest variety-like 80+ days and they are not ripe yet or
      2. Your tomato blossoms dropped in June when we had hot weather and they lost a month in ripening.
      Tomatoes cannot handle over 92 degrees when trying to set the fruit, so the blossoms drop. However, they continue to produce blossoms and when the temperature is below 92 degrees, they set fruit. Meanwhile that puts all of us back by about a month.


  5. tonytomeo says:

    The only year that I got a good batch of green tomatoes to pickle was when a neighbor drove his car over some of the plants that were loaded with fruit, and some of the fruit was too immature to ripen. Otherwise, almost ALL of the fruit taken in late ripens on the kitchen counter, leaving only a few that will not ripen, and certainly not enough to pickle. (I pickle them anyway . . . just because I really like them.) Our autumn comes on slowly, so the plants stop producing before frost. I suppose that is a good thing, unless of course one really likes pickled tomatoes. I could take some before they ripen, but that might be cheating.


  6. Placing a ripe banana also with some green tomatoes in an enclosed space helps to speed up the ripening in a same way an apple does.


  7. I never used this method, but a friend of mine told me he hangs up the whole plant at the end of the season when a frost is forecast. I will go to see when the time will come. He told that using this method he succeeded to produce better flavoured tomatoes in a garage. I think that a cellar is better as temperature remains constantly above freezing. I will be back to let you know


  8. […] Now the temps are beautiful but basically our season has slowed down and will end for tomatoes whenever we get that first freeze which is between now and October 15th. So before that night comes, when I hear a freeze is eminent, I will pick those few green tomatoes and bring them inside to ripen. For tips on ripening tomatoes inside, go to my post here. […]


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