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Short season, lots of green tomatoes

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2005
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by DaisyM on September 26, 2005 07:01 AM
We usually have our first frost around now but hopefully we will get another couple of weeks of nice weather to ripen the harvest. I am thankful for the red tomatoes I do have, but still have plenty of green ones on the vine that need to ripen even to the yellow or at least light green stage, so when they do ripen in the house, they will still retain some of their good taste. I find from past experience that green tomato's that ripen in the house are so acidic and tasteless and the skins are harder to digest. I've tried putting them in brown paper bags, newspapers, cardboard boxes etc...but when they do ripen they don't measure up to the ones that have ripened outside. How are your tomato's doing? Anyone have any secrets for retaining taste of tomatoes ripening in the house.
by ChristinaC on September 26, 2005 08:25 PM
There was a post not too long ago how to ripen green tomatoes. I forget who posted it but she said to pull the plants out of the garden (root and all) and hang them upside down in either a basement, shed or garage. Apparently they will continue to ripen and this person said she was pickin' red tomatoes up until Christmas! This is definitely what I'm gonna' you, I'm in Canada and have tons of green tomatoes that I would love to see ripen. I think this will be a chore for next weekend. Good Luck Daisy!!

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by papito on September 26, 2005 08:58 PM
Here's another article on ripening green tomatoes.

from above link:

Tomato hay stacks

When we are convinced a light frost is imminent, we go into action. When we first transplant our tomatoes into the garden in the spring, we either stake them or set a cage over the plants. The method we use to lengthen the life of our vines in the fall involves the support of this stake or cage. First we pick all the small tomatoes that have no chance of ripening. Then we examine all the larger tomatoes and leave only those showing signs of having at least some blush of color. Next, we push old hay or straw up under and around and over each tomato plant, keeping the hay wrap loose and from three to four inches thick. Then we securely tie the wrap with twine around the tomato plant and its stake or cage. The stake or cage makes a good support for the “tomato hay stack.” The tomato vines stay snug and warm under their cover, and the tomatoes will ripen without any more light. Later, when we pick the ripened tomatoes, we carefully part the hay without pulling it loose, and pat it back into place until all the tomatoes are gone. Tomatoes protected in this manner ripen slowly until a very deep freeze hits, and best of all, they still have that wonderful vine-ripened taste.

The green ones

Now, about those other green tomatoes we picked before wrapping the vines. Once again, we sort the tomatoes, and we select the nicest large, full-grown ones to store.

We make sure the tomatoes are dry, then wrap them individually in newspaper. Some people don’t like to use newsprint on food, even though most newspaper ink is now made from soy bean oil. If you don’t like to use newsprint, inexpensive white paper napkins work just as well.

We store the wrapped tomatoes in shallow boxes or trays—no more than two deep—and set the trays in a place that does not freeze or get above about 65° F. Most green tomatoes will ripen in about four to six weeks if held at 55° to 65° with moderate humidity. To hasten ripening, I place a few unwrapped apples here and there among the tomatoes. And I check them periodically, so as to use the ripe tomatoes before they spoil.

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Amor est vitae essentia.
Love is the essence of life.
by Sorellina on September 26, 2005 11:55 PM

That post about hanging tomato vines upside down in the house was from me. Most of my tomato plants are over 8' high so putting hay around them isn't an option for me. Tomatoes ripened this way will never have the same flavour they had in the middle of August with all that sun and heat, but they still beat anything you can get from the store.

I can most of the tomatoes from the end of the season, reserving a few for salads and the cherries for snacks. Sadly, there are only a few more beefsteak weeks left and I can already taste the difference from the middle of summer.

As for where I put the tomatoes while they're ripening...right now, our livingroom is sparsely furnished, so we have a large table in there that serves to support seedlings in Spring and the dehydrator and canning pot at this time of year. I put dry seed heads on it to further dry out in the south-facing exposure as well as the tomato vines, not in direct sun.

Try this out, I think you'll like the results ;o)


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by DaisyM on September 27, 2005 12:28 PM
Thanks for the tips. I can't get hay around here so that seems out. I like the tip about hanging the plants upside down, but most of my tomato plants are monsters (Lol, trying to figure out how to get one of those in the house.? I've tried wrapping them in newspaper, but not individually, so I can try that again. I don't have a problem turning them red, the problem is retaining the taste. Thanks again.
by Sorellina on September 30, 2005 09:57 PM

Even if you only have some of the vine attached to the tomatoes, it does help, so if you need to cut the vines to make them manageable in the house, that's ok, I've done that also.

Buona fortuna,

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by DaisyM on October 04, 2005 10:54 AM
Thanks, that's exactly what I did a few days ago. I have them hanging in my storage room, does it matter if they don't get any light in there? I picked the last few small ones today, because we are supposed to hit below zero temps this week. Besides nothing is growing, it's just too cool.

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