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Have you ever looked out into the garden and wondered why your tomatoes still aren’t ready? We hear ya. Want to know how to ripen tomatoes off the vine? The good news is there are various ways to ripen green tomatoes so you can enjoy them sooner. And none of them involves a magic wand. Phew. We’ll explain why they may not be ready, and then show you how to ripen green tomatoes in three different ways.
Why tomatoes stop ripening
Juicy tomatoes are delicious, but they’re not so great when they’re unripe, hard, and tasteless. Bleurgh. But why does the ripening process stop sometimes? Well, warmth is key to growing juicy, ripe tomatoes. If they’re exposed to cold temperatures they can stop ripening. However, too much heat can be a problem too, as that can lead to tough skin. Sensitive souls, aren’t they?
So, what is the best way to ripen green tomatoes? In an ideal world they would do so naturally in the right temperature conditions outside. But that’s not always possible, so we’ve put together some top tips for how to ripen tomatoes off the vine… and a tip for indoor on-the-vine ripening, too.
How to ripen tomatoes indoors: the crucial first step
After giving your tomatoes plenty of time to get ready, there comes a point when you can step in to help ripen green tomatoes. Whichever method you choose, the key is to choose tomatoes that are showing signs of ripening – and that’s a colour change. This is when your green tomatoes turn, in patches, to a more yellow or orange hue.
Here are three step-by-step methods showing you how to ripen tomatoes indoors:
1. The best way to ripen green tomatoes in a bag:
- Grab a paper bag.
- Add a ripe banana or apple. This will speed things up, as both give off a gas called ethane, which helps the ripening process.
- Place your tomatoes in the bag, ensuring they’re not squashed in too much. Fruit gives off moisture when ripening, and if there’s not enough room this can lead to icky mould forming. Yuck.
Inside the ripening bag, wrap your tomatoes in absorbent Plenty kitchen towel. It can provide these delicate ones with a little protection from cold draughts and absorb excess moisture during the ripening process.
- Fold the top of the bag over and leave in a warm place.
- Check regularly to spot which tomatoes are ready, and remove any spoiled ones.
- They’ll more than likely be ready at different times. Take each one out when it’s ripe to avoid it going past it’s tastiest stage.
2. The best way to ripen tomatoes on a windowsill:
- Choose your windowsill carefully. You want it to be in a warm area that receives sunlight, but not one that’s baking hot all day. Yep, there’s a fine art to this tomato-ripening malarkey.
- Lay a couple of sheets of Plenty kitchen paper over the windowsill and arrange your tomatoes on top, leaving space between each one.
- Inspect daily and shuffle them around if necessary.
- Place them into a paper bag when they’re showing signs of ripening (minus the banana or apple) and keep checking on them.
- Remove when ready. You can eat them straight away or store wrapped in a sheet of kitchen paper to keep them fresh.
3. The best way to ripen tomatoes upside down:
This is a slightly left-field method, as it requires the whole plant, rather than taking tomatoes off the vine first. Give this a go when you’re ripening the last of the tomato crop.
- Remove the tomato plant from the ground, roots and all.
- Gently shake off the soil. Try not to hit the cat/ a child/ your favourite garden gnome.
- Take the plant inside and hang it upside down to continue ripening. Yes, really. Some swear by this method, as they believe tomatoes are best when they get as much energy from their roots as possible.
- Keep an eye out for changes and remove when ripe.
This method is a good one to try when the temperatures have really dropped and it’s getting to a ‘brrrr it’s chilly’ level out there.
And there you have it – how to ripen green tomatoes in three ways. Happy ripening!