Ripening Tomatoes Indoors
Autumn has officially begun and although we haven't had any serious threats of frost yet, the threat is always there this time of year. Some plants can withstand frost better than others. My root veggies are likely to laugh in the face of impending frost while others, like my tomatoes, would shiver in fear of their lives. You've heard that it's not good to refrigerate tomatoes...well, if they're out in the cold, it's like being in a fridge - not good.
The days are short now. I rarely see the garden in daylight except on the weekends, so I've had to start dismantling the garden a little bit at a time. If I don't, I'll likely find myself out in the garden on some random cold dark evening fumbling around with a flashlight trying to save my tomatoes. Not really what I want to be doing (although I'm sure it would be great entertainment for the neighbors.)
If you're lucky, it's at this time you'll have lots of green or partially ripened tomatoes. They have little hope of ripening well or ripening at all if they're left out on the vine for the remainder of the short cool days. So, I always take what's left and ripen them indoors. I have both regular and cherry tomatoes and I took them all in a couple of weeks ago to ripen. It's a great way to enjoy fresh tomatoes from the garden into the fall/winter.
To Ripen Tomatoes:
- Bring all of your tomatoes inside. Even ones that are completely green.
- Remove any that are split or damaged - those won't ripen nicely and will likely ruin others around it.
- Layer them in between newspaper in a cardboard box. Leave some space around the tomatoes - don't crowd them too much. Separate each layer with more newspaper stacked on top of the previous layer.
- Put the least ripe tomatoes at the bottom so as the other ripen first, they're at the top to use.
- Place the box in a cool (not cold) dark place.
- Check on them periodically to check their progress and make sure none have gone bad.
The ripening process could take a week or a month or more. It depends on the type of tomato and what stage of development when you take it in. I just used my ripened cherry tomatoes to make a pasta sauce with olives and capers. Delicious.
TIP: If you want to speed up the ripening of tomatoes, place them in a paper bag with an apple. Both tomatoes and apples produce ethylene gas as they ripen, but apples have more of it. The gas will help the tomatoes ripen more quickly.