Ripening Green Tomatoes: Easy Methods and Delicious Recipes


As the end of summer approaches, many of us find ourselves with an abundance of green tomatoes on the vine and the threat of frost looming. Don't despair! In this article, we'll guide you through the process of ripening green tomatoes effortlessly. We'll also explore alternative methods and offer some delectable green tomato recipes to make the most of your harvest.

The Easiest Way to Ripen Green Tomatoes:

When faced with a bounty of green tomatoes, the simplest method to ripen them is as follows:

  1. Harvest green tomatoes before frost arrives.
  2. Arrange the tomatoes in a single layer inside a shallow cardboard box, discarding any damaged or spoiled ones.
  3. Store the box at room temperature until the tomatoes ripen to perfection.

Green tomatoes require warmth to develop their full flavor, and this method ensures that you can enjoy their delicious taste even after the growing season has ended. Some gardeners prefer to slow down ripening by storing the tomatoes in a cooler environment, preserving their unique taste for later use.

Watch for Stems and Spoilage

Keep an eye out for stems that may detach easily from the tomatoes, as removing them can prevent accidental damage to other fruits. However, be cautious, as certain tomato varieties can be harmed by stem removal. Ensure that you inspect the tomatoes regularly for any signs of spoilage, especially if they are stored close together. To prevent fruit flies from becoming a problem, consider using a simple fruit fly trap near your tomato storage area.

Avoid washing the tomatoes before ripening them, as excessive moisture can make them susceptible to mold. If you need to salvage tomatoes from diseased or dirty plants, it's advisable to wash and thoroughly dry them before storage.

When You Want Ripe Tomatoes Faster

To expedite the ripening process, consider using a paper bag and ethylene gas:

Place unripe tomatoes in a closed container, such as a paper bag, along with a fruit that produces additional ethylene gas, like a ripe banana or apple. This will accelerate the ripening process, resulting in red, flavorful tomatoes. Ethylene treatment has been shown to increase the levels of beneficial compounds like beta carotene and lycopene in tomatoes.

Alternatively, if you don't have a paper bag handy, simply put the tomatoes in a bowl and cover them with a kitchen towel. Ensure they have some ventilation to breathe, and with the help of an apple or banana, your green tomatoes will turn red in no time.

Ripening Tomatoes in a Windowsill

For those with only a few tomatoes close to ripening, placing them on a sunny windowsill can also do the trick. However, be cautious not to expose them to direct sunlight for too long, as it can toughen the skin and lead to drying.

To prevent this, keep the stem side up, as the blossom end is firmer. Some varieties may even benefit from being stored on their sides, such as long paste tomatoes.

Vine Ripening Tomatoes by Pulling the Entire Plant

While some gardeners opt to ripen green tomatoes by uprooting the entire plant and hanging it upside down, this method can be messy and challenging, especially with large, bushy tomato plants.

If you decide to try it, cut the tomato plant at ground level to leave the dirt in the garden. Placing newspaper or cardboard underneath the plant can catch any ripening fruits and debris. However, be aware that bringing plants indoors can introduce mold and bacteria, which can spread in an indoor environment.

Saving End of Season Tomatoes from Frost in the Garden

In some cases, it may be possible to protect your tomato plants from frost, allowing them to ripen on the vine in the garden. Covering the plants with blankets or row covers can provide temporary protection during cold nights. However, keep in mind that as temperatures drop, tomatoes may lose their flavor, and even non-freezing cold can harm the plants.


Whether you choose to ripen your green tomatoes indoors or experiment with other methods, you'll be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor well into the fall and beyond. And if you're feeling adventurous, don't forget to explore the world of green tomato recipes, from tangy chutneys to savory soups and even pies. The choice is yours—ripen or not, your green tomatoes have plenty of culinary potential! If you have any ripening tips or favorite green tomato recipes, please share them in the comments below. Happy gardening and cooking!

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