How to Ripen Green Tomatoes

Frying, hanging, being wrapped in newspaper and stuffed in a box — life isn’t easy for a green tomato.

tomatoes ripening on the vineFor many northern gardeners, this year’s combination of uneven spring temperatures and a hot July that caused blossoms to drop has led to a bumper crop of green tomatoes. Of course, you can cover tomatoes during cold spells, like the one predicted for later this week, and hope for another week or two of warmth. But eventually, gardeners are likely to harvest some hard, green tomatoes. What to do next?

Michigan author and blogger, Colleen Vanderlinden, wrote about stretching the season in your vegetable garden in the September/October issue of Northern Gardener. Two of her tips involved tomatoes. Colleen suggests that gardeners consider hanging their tomatoes to give them time to ripen. Simply pull out the entire plant and hang it upside down in the basement or garage. Eventually, the tomatoes will ripen. Then, simply compost the rest of the plant.

green tomatoOr, you can save tomatoes wrapped in newspaper and stored in the basement. Here’s what Colleen does to ripen her tomatoes indoors.

You can wrap each green tomato in newspaper, placing them in a box in a cool part of your basement, and check regularly for signs of ripening. Or you can place tomatoes on the kitchen counter and use them as they ripen. The main difference between the two methods is that the newspaper-wrapped tomatoes will ripen more gradually, so you’ll have tomatoes later into the winter.

Of course, you can always use the time-honored southern method of making fried green tomatoes. The green tomato slices are lightly coated in cornmeal and fried in a oil. Here’s a basic recipe, if you’d like to make some.

What do you do with your green tomatoes?