How To Slow Down Ripening Tomatoes – There’s more than one way to ripen tomatoes, and it all starts with speeding up the ripening process with a few simple techniques. But what if cold weather soon threatens to destroy your harvest? Learn how to ripen tomatoes indoors and choose the best fruits for it. (Not all green tomatoes are good candidates for ripening!)
Ever since I started gardening, tomatoes have been my passion. Every spring I start at least a dozen varieties from seed, some I’ve bought and some I’ve fermented and saved.
I love the colors of the rainbow – from cream to deep indigo – and the intoxicating smell of tomato leaves surrounds my hands as I search through the vine for the perfect fruit.
But this time of year, the thing that brings me joy — picking tomatoes — can be frustrating, especially in Central Oregon, where the season is short and the fruit ripens annoyingly late.
Whether they’re started indoors or in a greenhouse, the stubborn little green side is a highlight every year when the weather starts near frost.
Because it is a tropical tree native to the highlands of Peru, the land of eternal summer, it does not have the same biochemical triggers as other plants, which go dormant and produce seeds quickly when temperatures begin to drop.
This means that the tomato plants will continue to flower and fruit until they freeze or die.
But you don’t have to throw yourself into another batch of pickled green tomatoes this year … at least not right now.
As the days get shorter and the weather gets cooler, try these easy ways to speed up your cooking!
If you see green tomatoes on the vine even if you’re only a few weeks from the first frost, the best way to ripen them is to prune (cut back) the top of the tomato plant—remove the top of the tomato. The stem is above the flower. This prevents the plant from growing taller and producing more flowers.
I also like to pick unripe green fruits. Instead of wasting its resources on fully developing the fruit, the plant can focus its energy on ripening the fruit it has already produced.
Several studies have shown that reducing the number of fruits not only accelerates ripening, but also improves the size, flavor and nutritional content of the plant. So it’s a win-win!
If tomato plants sense that their survival is in danger, they will ripen their fruits to produce seeds and become the next generation of plants.
Reducing the amount of water you give them can help reduce stress. Do this gradually every three weeks to allow the plant to adjust and water less. You don’t want to stress the plant
This deliberate water retention is similar to a farming technique called dry farming, which commercial farmers use to improve flavor.
Under normal conditions the fruit is smaller than a vine-ripened tomato, but limiting the plant’s water intake reduces the fruit’s sugar content and other flavor compounds, giving the tomato a sweet and full-bodied flavor.
The best way to grow tomatoes. A successful harvest of tomatoes requires drying from the beginning under a specific climate and soil).
Another simple way to cause stress is to cut the roots, which inhibit the growth of the plant. This special technique makes it difficult for the plant to absorb water and sends a distress signal to hurry and produce tomatoes.
To do this, push the spade 6 to 8 inches deep, about 1 foot from the stem, and move it in a circular motion around the plant. This cuts off the outer roots and puts the plant in survival mode, causing it to over mature.
Generally, the best time to root a tomato plant is after the first fruit has developed, but before it begins to ripen.
Although the timing may vary depending on your garden and climate, I usually do this three to four weeks before the first frost in my area.
Root pruning along with reduced watering (as mentioned in trick 2 above) and “lazing” at the end of the season will reward you with better tasting, more nutritious fruit and less waste in the garden!
If an early frost has brought all the unripe tomatoes indoors, you can ripen them by placing them in brown paper bags (loose and in single or double layers, not stacked on top of each other) inside apple skins.
Apples emit large amounts of ethylene, a colorless, odorless gas that softens the flesh and increases the sugar content (a process called ripening).
With the help of ethylene, green tomatoes should ripen in a week, while green fruits normally take two weeks to ripen.
Green fruit. They are fully grown and slightly yellow on the outside. If you cut a piece of the specialty fruit, you should see a jelly-like texture and some discoloration inside.
Ripe green tomatoes have the best chance of ripening into vines. Sort and separate according to pleasure, allowing you to test just a few fruits (instead of opening and checking the entire bag) to determine whether each batch is ripe and ready.
Store unripe fruit in a cool, dry place indoors at 65-70 degrees F – do not refrigerate, which will not only stop ripening, but will also cause the flesh to rot after prolonged exposure to cold.
I’m a plant lover, trailblazer, and cookbook author whose expert tips and bestsellers have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine.
My latest book. At Garden Box I write about modern farms, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventures—all involving the great outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life … read more »
I live and play in the beautiful city of Bend, Oregon, where I write about urban cottages, tabletop gardening, and outdoor adventures—everything related to the great outdoors. I believe the secret to a good life is … read more
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Gordon Petty independently selects the products offered on this website. I may earn a commission when you purchase something through my links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases. Additional Information Living in the Pacific Northwest, like myself, we rarely experience late ripening problems with tomatoes. In August, let us pray for tomatoes! However, I understand that not everyone lives in a cold and humid climate, and the delay in tomato ripening is especially important in the tropics.
Ethylene gas is responsible for the ripening process of tomato plants. This process starts with ethylene gas, which is formed in the tomato when it reaches full size and turns pale green.
When the tomato turns half green and half pink, the budding stage, the cells spread throughout the plant and close it off from the main vine. In this broken state, ripening of the tomato plant takes place inside or outside the stem without loss of flavor.
If you live with very hot summers, it can be helpful to know how to slow down tomato ripening to extend your tomato harvest. Temperatures above 35 C will not allow tomatoes to form red seeds. Although they ripen quickly, even very quickly, they have an orange-yellow color. So can tomatoes ripen? In fact.
Although tomatoes will not ripen at refrigerator temperatures if harvested at the ripening stage, cold storage at temperatures of at least 50 degrees F. (10 C) will allow tomatoes to ripen.
To prolong the harvest of tomatoes, when breaking the fruit of the vine, remove the stems and wash the tomatoes with water – dry with a clean towel. Here is the option to slowly expand the tomatoes to ripen.
Some people place the tomatoes one or two layers deep in a box to allow them to ripen, while others wrap the tomatoes in brown paper or newspaper and then place them in the box. Paper packaging helps reduce the accumulation of ethylene gas, which causes tomatoes to ripen.
However, store the box in an area with a temperature of at least 55 degrees F. (13 C.).
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