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.

ripen tomatoes indoors

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.

Happy Harvesting!

I'm Catherine, a small-space urban gardener in New Jersey (Zone 7a) who started gardening out of upcycled wooden wine boxes. For years, I wanted to try gardening, but didn't know where to start. I got up the nerve to give it a try - starting small with a single wooden wine box that turned an idea into reality. That reality quickly turned into my filling every sunny inch of space of my postage-stamp size lawn and turning it into a garden oasis. I grow mostly vegetables and herbs with some exception for fruits (when the squirrels and rabbits don't get to them first). I love learning from gardening communities (and lots of trial and error).

I hope one day to take all that I'm learning and apply it to a larger plot of land. To help me get there, I'm extending my learning through the University of Massachusetts, Stockbridge School of Agriculture's, Sustainable Food & Farming program. (I'm addicted to learning as much as I am to gardening.)

This blog isn't just for gardeners (although I hope it inspires some of you to try growing a plant or two). The recipes (food & cocktails) in theRecipes section of this blog contain ingredients that don't have to come from your own backyard. If you like visiting your local farmer's market(or even your grocery store) and would like to get some new recipes you can use with the fresh produce and herbs you get from your local growers, this blog will have plenty for you too.

In addition to gardening and cooking, I also love to visit and photograph my surroundings. I feel fortunate to have so many amazing places here in New York/New Jersey, where I live and work. Visits to local farms, farmer's markets, and cycling through rural farming areas help me feel connected and refreshed. share these experiences in theExploring section of the blog so that you might visit through proxy or be inspired enough to visit yourself. 

With very few exceptions, all of the photographs on this site are ones I have taken myself. (For the photographers out there, I shoot with a Canon 7D and sometimes with my Lumix  DMC-ZS15 compact camera.) 

I hope this blog inspires you to grow, create, explore, and try something new. The best way to stay up-to-date is to follow me using the social buttons above, or click Subscribe and sign up for my email newsletters.    

Happy Gardening and Healthful Living!

- Catherine