Ripening Green Tomatoes Calls For Common Sense and Patience
If you’re wondering how to ripen green tomatoes, don’t worry; Mother Nature will do it for you sooner or later. But wait! It’s not always that simple. Most tomato growers run into a jam near the end of the gardening season when cold weather and frost loom, yet dozens of green tomatoes remain on the vine. If you suspect the weather will not hold out long enough for them to ripen outside, you must pick them before they freeze. Also, if temperatures average below 55 degree Fahrenheit, they may never ripen.
The first thing to look for on your tomatoes is the “breaker stage.” This is when a green tomato gets its first hint or flush of yellowish, pink or red color. That means the tomato is ready to be picked, and will ripen relatively quickly after you bring it indoors. So examine all of your tomatoes for the breaker stage and get them picked! Place them in a cardboard box away from sunlight at average room temperature, (65 to 70 degrees is optimum).
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But let’s say you have a large amount of tomatoes that are nowhere near ripe and still very green. There are a number of good methods for ripening them properly. Most people place green tomatoes two layers deep in a cardboard box and keep them covered in a room that is always above 60 degrees, but lower that 75 degrees. Controlling humidity is important. Low humidity will shrivel fruit and high humidity can bring on mold. You don’t need some kind of super-accurate humidity monitoring device and just use common sense and place your tomatoes in a relatively cool dry place, such as a garage or basement, or any room with “normal” humidity.
Remember that keeping green tomatoes in temperatures below 50 degrees may prevent ripening, or if they do, they tend to develop an off or bland flavor. Most tomatoes ripen in about two weeks at optimum temperature.
If you want a faster method to make green tomatoes ripen, place a ripe banana or another very ripe tomato in the box with your green tomatoes. Better yet, place them in a large paper bag and close it up. The reason this works is because ripening fruits natural emit ethylene gases which trigger a ripening hormone in tomatoes. You may also individually wrap tomatoes in wax paper or newspapers and place them in a covered box.The wrapping will trap and concentrate the gas.
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Keep in mind, too, that a lot of people love green tomatoes and find wonderful uses for them just the way they are. We’ve all heard of fried green tomatoes and they’re delicious coated in a bit of salt and flour or bread crumbs, and sizzled in butter. Green tomatoes also make an excellent salsa, and they are delicious in a stir fry recipe.
An important note: It is a common belief that placing tomatoes in a sunny window is the best way to ripen them. This is not true! Darkness is key. It’s okay for tomatoes to ripen on the vine in the sun, but picked tomatoes are a different story entirely. Keep them in the dark
For the most part, knowing how to ripen green tomatoes comes down to common sense methods and patience.
If you want a really easy recipe for fried green tomatoes check the next post out.