If you have already been lucky to grow your garden full of tomatoes, then there are a lot of things you need to know. You might be unaware of the ripening part of this vegetable, especially if you are residing in a frosty zone. Do check out below to learn about the ripening process of tomatoes.
How Long Does It Take for Green Tomatoes to Turn Red?
Well, tomatoes often do not ripe on the vine. So, you got to take those off the vines and do one of the following things to make green tomatoes turn red.
With ripening fruits in a bag
With green tomatoes, you can place a ripening fruit like a banana or an apple or some ripening tomatoes enclosed in a bag. This will help green tomatoes turn into red with the help of ethylene released from the fruits.
Make sure the bag is placed in a warm place and in regular intervals to check for any signs of rotting or growth of mold.
In a box
You can pick fruit cardboard boxes that are often thrown away from fruit stores or take any box and line it with newspaper. Place green tomatoes in such a way so that they are in a single layer with some space in between them.
Consider hanging up the plant
During snow, green tomatoes take a lot of time to ripe; they often remain raw throughout. In such situations, when you forecast frost in advance, hang the entire plant upside down in a cellar or a garage. You have to gently pull up and hang the plant in a place where the temperature doesn’t drop to freezing point.
This method is tested and tried to be known as the best method among the rest in producing flavored red tomatoes.
In glass jars
This is yet one more way to ripen green tomatoes. Place the green tomato with larger fully ripened tomatoes either in a glass jar or a bag and seal it. Do not forget to make holes in the bag or jar to avoid the growth of mold.
As soon as one green tomato turns red, pick it up from the vine to let other tomatoes reach their full size and color. Once it shows the first sign of color change, you can pick it up and place it at room temperature for it to ripen completely.
Remove the flower clusters
Pick new flower clusters from plants that already have set fruit. This will help in directing the energy from the plant into ripening the fruit which is already on the verge of maturity on the vine.
Ripening Tomatoes Off The Vine/Plant
Wonder, why you might be interested in ripening tomatoes off the plant!
Well, the squirrel population running after your still-ripening tomato crops might be a bother to you. Your tomatoes might be too heavy to bog down the entire vine because of which you might prefer to pluck them off when they are green.
The third possible reason which you might be wanting to pull the tomatoes off is that you are scared of insects, disease, or rotting while they are still green. You can pick them and leave them to ripen indoors.
Once you bring in the green tomatoes, make sure to put them with some ripening fruits that release ethylene. This process is also being practiced commercially where green tomatoes are ripened using this gas produced by other ripening fruits. Also, leaving the tomatoes on the countertop helps as these release ethylene on their own and eventually ripen.
This process can take weeks depending on their variety. You may also give them a slight squeeze. If you feel the fruit is showing decaying signs, skip it.
Do wash the tomatoes and leave them to dry fully before stashing them anywhere. If you have large quantities, put them in cardboard boxes, instead of bags, and make sure to leave some room for them to breathe in your box. Do not put the tomatoes in any environment which has high humidity, else it will either decay or lead to fruit fly problems.
Ripening Tomatoes On The Vine/Plant
Typically, usual size tomatoes take about a month or so to reach a matured size and then another 20 days or so to fully ripen from green to red. So, a total of 40-60 days is required for a green tomato to transform from blossom to being fully ripe.
You can pick tomatoes only when these begin to change color i.e., from green to yellow, pink, orange, or red depending on the cultivar.
For tomatoes to ripen on the vine, an ideal temperature should be 20-25 degrees Celsius. The ripening gets delayed when the temperature is a little more or less than usual.
Ripening Tomatoes in a Paper Bag/Newspaper
Well, this is a trick which probably every gardener should know. Especially with threatening frost, green tomatoes ripening is a big deal. You may pick a few green ones and sauté or grill it for your winter dinner, but what about the rest?
Pluck those carefully from the vines and give them a good wash to remove any dirt from their skin. While cleaning those, pop off the stems sticking out so that they don’t puncture the fruit. Sort the green ones at this time and put aside the ones which have pokes or other flaws.
You can keep them aside for making recipes. Dry the rest of the good ones completely and then put them into paper or newspaper bags. Once done, do follow up daily to see the ripening process. The miracle is nothing, but the ethylene gas. You may also consider tossing out the damp paper bags and replacing them intermittently.
Ripening Tomatoes With Banana
Banana is not only a portion of great food and a high source of essential vitamins such as potassium, it is also a catalyst that comes in handy in the ripening process. Ethylene gas has been found out to hasten the process of ripening of tomatoes.
So, in case you are bored of waiting for the tomatoes turning red and have tried your luck with other ways, just put an apple or a banana in the container in which you have kept the tomatoes; this would help. Bananas and apples emanate ethylene gas which helps expedite the ripening process.
Ripening Tomatoes in the Window
If you have a tomato plant at your home, you must have been familiar with waiting and watching them turn from green to red. The process of ripening is a complex phenomenon. While it could be time-taking to wait for the tomatoes on your plant to turn red, there are various ways to naturally turn them red.
One such way is to pluck the tomatoes while they are green and place them gently on the window of your kitchen. A natural way to ripen green tomatoes fast is to expose them to sunlight.
Care needs to be taken to avoid the tomatoes from falling from the window. You could place the stem of the tomatoes downwards so that the tomatoes get the necessary support as well as prevent the soft surface from getting tampered with.
You might choose one of several options while thinking about placing the tomatoes on the sunny side of the window.
Place it on a window sill
The most naive way of placing the tomatoes on your window is just by tucking those away on the windowsill where sunlight peeps in.
Place it inside an open container
In case you are concerned about the rough surface of the cemented windowsill scratching the tender surface of the tomatoes, you may well consider putting the tomatoes inside a container. All you need to make sure is that the container has some air inlet.
Ripening Tomatoes in a Greenhouse
For a farmer who is challenged with the task of ripening a bunch of tomatoes and not just a few, placing them in a container or on the windowsill does not work out. This calls for placing tomatoes in tunnels or rows properly arranged to ensure they receive similar attention.
When growing and ripening tomatoes, an important consideration you should make is to protect the tomatoes from pest attack. A great way to do that is by covering the tomato plants in mini tunnels or greenhouse-like structures.
A greenhouse is a structure that comprises transparent roofs and walls, often made of glass to provide the right temperature and environment for your plants to grow healthily. The greenhouse effect facilitates the ripening of the tomatoes by increasing the air temperature of the surroundings of the plant.
The absorbed heat from sunlight during the day time is utilized to provide the necessary thermal insulation to the plants when night creeps in. Depending on the number of tomato plants you have, you might need to consider if you should go for a miniature greenhouse structure, also referred to as a “cold frame” or go for larger frames if you have production at an industrial level.
So, that’s how green tomatoes are ripened in different ways and these are some handy tips which you, as a successful gardener, should know.