We have always had fairly good luck with our tomatoes, but this year seemed to be the best year yet. The new location of the tomatoes as well as the stronger start in the house seems to have added a bit more growing and fruiting time to the plants. We were harvesting all three varieties of the tomatoes in early July. In the past 3 years, we have managed to harvest some cherry tomatoes in mid-July, but never our larger tomatoes. Early August has been our standard harvest time for our larger tomatoes. Using the romas as a comparison, last year (2020), we didn’t harvest any until Aug 3. This year, our first harvest was July 15, with steady harvests after. It was nice to have the extra few weeks of vegetables.
Now we are nearing the end of our growing season and our plants are FULL of tomatoes. Mostly pear and cherry tomatoes, but a few romas are also still making a go of it. Not one to waste any food, I decided to do what I do every fall and bring in the green tomatoes and see if I could ripen them in the house. I generally have some luck of it and get over half of them to ripen. This year, I am aiming higher. I am so addicted to the dehydrated tomatoes that I have been making, that I would love to get one more batch from the green tomatoes. It will work out perfect since the tomatoes that ripen in the house often don’t have the best texture.
I have tried a few different methods from wrapping the larger ones in newspaper and putting them into a box. Not bad, but I also had a lot that didn’t make it. I have tried putting them in a warm spot in the living room, with no direct sunlight and had quite a bit of luck with that. This year, I decided to explore some more and see if I could find another method that might give me better chances than my living room ripening.
I read a few garden articles that suggested putting the tomatoes into a box with an apple or banana that was ripe. Warm temperatures without direct sunlight are one of the best ways to get green tomatoes to ripen. But there is another factor that apparently helps speed up the process. It is a gas called ethylene. Apparently it is used commercially with tomatoes and fruits that are picked green before shipping, then ripened for sale. Doesn’t sound that appetizing considering a lot of store-bought, off-season fruit and vegetables have very little flavour and are lack-lustre. Likely due to this process. This gas however, is also released naturally by ripening fruits such as bananas, apples and tomatoes. So the idea is that if you place a ripe banana or apple in with the tomatoes you would like to ripen, it should speed up the ripening process through the natural release of that gas.
So I figured, why not try it. I split the three varieties of my tomatoes into three separate boxes. Two have apples and the other has a ripe banana. Now I wait. It said it can still take up to 2 weeks depending on how green the tomatoes were when they were put in to ripen. Most of mine were not even in the early stages of ripening, and were mostly dark green in colour still. I placed the tomatoes in the boxes on Oct 11, so hopefully by Oct 25 I will be preparing another batch of dehydrated tomatoes.
The other thing I decided to try this year was leaving them on their stems. I cut them in the natural bundles that they were growing in. I am not sure why I chose to do this method this year, but for some reason it seemed like a good idea. I have not read anywhere that this will help. I’m glad I did though. It really helped with storing the tomatoes in the boxes. I put the tomatoes into the boxes stem side down, so it lifts them in the air, rather than have the tomato resting on the bottom of the box. The cherry and pear varieties are all suspended, with no pressure, hopefully resulting in no rot or bruising that will cause the tomatoes to go bad before they can ripen. Most of the romas are also somewhat suspended, but because of their size, it didn’t quite work the same. I figure a little less pressure on the tomato is still better. We will see if it helps as well.
Is there a trick that you use to get the last of your tomatoes to ripen in the house? I would love to hear it if you do!