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How to ripen Green Tomatoes Indoors

I recently had to figure a way to save my crop quickly so I decided to ripen green tomatoes indoors.

If you have been reading my blog, you will know that I had a run in with the squirrels in my garden.

It was totally heartbreaking for me to see the damage they did to my gorgeous tomatoes that were just about ready to pick.

I use homegrown tomatoes to make a roasted tomato pasta sauce each year. I expected a few tomato plant problems but sharing the tomatoes with critters was not something I had in mind when I planted them.

How to ripen green tomatoes

Even though not all green tomatoes are unripe red ones, in my  case, this was true. If your tomatoes are stuck in the green stage, find out what to do to get them to ripen on the vine.

Ripening green Tomatoes Indoors

The squirrels pretty much ruined my corn patch and have decimated the tomato plants too.

I had 18 tomato plants and they discovered them all by taking a bite out of each tomato that was anywhere near ripe and discarding it nearby before going on to the next one.

Harvest of squirrel eaten tomatoesI thought that 18 tomato plants would give me plants well into October but I was wrong.  I had to pick every tomato on the bush and bring them in, much the way one would just before the frost.

I had platters and platters of them, all looking something like this:

green Tomatoes Green tomatoes

I thought that I would have weeks of eating fried green tomatoes, but this was not the case.

Thankfully, most of mine have ripened as  the weeks have gone on.  They did not get spread out until October as I would have liked but at least I did not lose them all to the squirrels.

It is easy to ripen green tomatoes indoors.

One might think that if the tomatoes were all green, it would be a difficult task to get them to ripen. This was actually not the case.   Questions you might ask are:

  • Is it difficult to get tomatoes that are green to ripen off the vine? Not at all!
  • Do you have sacrifice the whole tomato plant to get some ripe ones? No, again.
  • Are there special steps that you have to do to get the green tomatoes to ripen? No, it is easy.
  • Are there specific temperature or humidity requirements to ripen tomatoes? Nope.

How to ripen green tomatoes indoors.
My experience was quite simple.  I brought them inside, and placed them in several platters. Some in a south window (those with a tinge of red). Some in a northern window (those completely green.)

And some right on a window sill. (Those with a lot of red.)

I just kept transferring the greenest ones to the next spot in the chain with light as soon as I saw some red happening. So far, all but 7 of mine have fully ripened.  And I ‘m sure the stragglers will ripen soon.

But I’m a lazy gardener.  I just hope for the best.   I like to set and forget if I can. Here are a few other tips for greater success.

  • Sit the tomatoes with their blossom side down, so they will be less likely to rot.  Some of my set and forget tomatoes got a bit TOO ripe.
  • Wrap individual green tomatoes in newspaper and layer them in a box, no more than 2 layers deep.  Put the box in a dark and dry spot and check them weekly for ripening. This normally takes 3-4 weeks.  Be sure to remove any signs of fruit that show rotting.
  • Another way to ripen is to place the green tomatoes in a bad with a ripe apple.  Since the apple gives off ethylene gas, it will speed up the ripening.  Check them daily.
  • If it is the end of the growing season, cut off vines with tomatoes still attached and hang the whole plant upside down in a dark and cool garage or basement to allow the fruit to ripen gradually.

What other things have you done to ripen green tomatoes?

Here are a  couple of platters of mine which ripened after about 7 days.  I think I will have a 100% green to red rate by the time they are done, and some of them were VERY green and hard to begin with.

I did not notice any loss of sweetness. The tomatoes we are eating now are very sweet and juicy.  Much the same as those that ripened in the garden before the squirrels got to them.

Ripened tomatopesAnd they tasted good too!

If  you want to ripen green tomatoes before you bring them indoors, try this tip submitted to me from Graham Hall in the UK.

Graham suggests to remove most of the leaves from plant so that all of the plant’s energy will go into ripening the tomatoes. He says “Drastic, I know but it works.!”  Thanks for the tip Graham!

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Lois Walsh

Saturday 22nd of August 2020

Where do you place the plastic bag w apple in with tomatoes while ripening?

Douglas Devan

Sunday 29th of September 2019

For really green tomatoes without any signs of ripening or even partially ripened tomatoes, it could be quiet helpful to place them in a paper bag or seal-able plastic bag along with a banana or apple. The ethylene oxide produced helps to ripen them faster. For the purist's this may seem "terrible" but lets face it. This is how most of the tomato shippers to grocery stores do it....pick'em green and ship'em green in ethylene oxide containers. Why....nobody wants to by rotted shipped red tomatoes.

Faylee James

Thursday 24th of July 2014

Some great ideas on here, thanks for sharing them.

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