The Cottage Smallholder

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The best way to ripen green tomatoes

green tomatoesDanny loves guzzling our ripe tomatoes straight from the vine. This is partly why I grow them. It’s great to see my tomatoes savoured and relished. Now the evenings are drawing in, I often see him out with a torch when I swing in from work, searching to see if any have ripened in the autumn sunshine. The ripening process is slow at this stage of the season.

We have managed to keep the tomato blight at bay by removing blighty leaves, stalks and fruit as soon as they appear. This has to be done daily and the blighty bits burnt. We haven’t used any sprays this summer so each tomato that Danny pops in his mouth is 100% organic. When the blight was at its height I mentioned the grisly spray word, to be met with a loud negative rejoinder.

Unfortunately, Danny didn’t twig that the vines at the front of the house needed to be watered when I was ill in bed recently. Too much or too little water can split the tomatoes. So we have a good crop of split, which need a day or two of warm sun before they are transmogrified into our rich tomato sauce. We make gallons of the stuff and this generally sees us through until the spring.

This weekend I had planned to move all the non split green tomatoes to the greenhouse to ripen. A small foray onto the internet told me otherwise. Here are a few expert tips that will allow your green tomatoes to ripen well.

Some people remove the leaves from the vines and hang the vines in a cool garage or shed to ripen. I am going to ripen our green tomatoes in the house. I used to ripen them on the windowsills but I have discovered that direct sunlight hardens the skins and there is a much better way to ripen them indoors.

Pick ripe, nearly ripe and mature green fruits before the possibility of frost. Remove long stems to prevent them from piercing each other. Store tomatoes in cardboard or wooden boxes, 1 to 2 layers deep, in a cool moderately humid room. Cover the boxes with newspaper as tomatoes need darkness to ripen.. Check the toms every day and remove the ripe ones.

As tomatoes ripen, they naturally release ethylene gas, which stimulates ripening. To speed up the ripening process put a ripening tomato, apple or banana in the box with green tomatoes. To slow the ripening process and give yourself an extended harvest store some tomatoes, covered in cardboard boxes, in a cooler location.

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  1. H J Nicholls- Faulconbridge

    Hi would it be possible for you to give me your recipe for green tomato and onion chutney I see a lot of people has asked you for it so it must be very good. I have a good supply of green tomatoes ive just taken off my plants so I would like to ripen some and also try to make your chutney which ive never made before. I would really appreciate it. Many Thanks Hilary

    • Hi – I think this is the one you mean:

      Alternatively, try using the Search box at the top-right of the site. It should return results in order of most relevant.

  2. Hi Mark love to have your recipe for green tomatoe chutney as my crop this year is just that-cheers rick.

  3. irene bissonette

    would like the recipe for green tomato chutney with onions…Thanks Irene

  4. Good Morning Fiona,
    Had to tell you, my ‘Happy Potato Plants’ well one of them so far have left me delighted, we unearthed some beautiful,huge, perfect spuds! Guess what were eating tonight? Our own potatoes, salad, tomatoes, beetroot (bumper crop) and spring onions, oh, coleslaw with our own onions and carrots.
    Oh how different food tastes when home-grown, how rewarding and satisfying to know that it’s all our own with no ‘nasties’ been used on it.
    Homemade ‘brown bread’,your recipie using spelt flour, dessert bramble pie, brambles fron my good friend and neighbour in return for some pies and our produce.
    They’re calling us ‘Barbara n Tom’, from the Good Life!
    Many thanks to you Fiona, want to try ‘farmhouse cake’, however can’t seem to find it, next to try is the slow cook belly of pork, sounds delicious.
    Shall let you know how the spuds taste!
    With much gratitude,
    Odelle. (oooh how I love this website, ever so pleased that I found you!)

  5. jacqui burns

    can you please send me your recipe for green tomato chutney, my email address was wrong in the last query

    • Fiona Nevile

      I’m sorry Jacqui but I don’r have a recipe for green tomato chutney – maybe I’ll create one this year.

  6. Hi there all, can anyone help me to identify the ‘appendeges’ (don’t laugh)growing on my potatoes? I’ve grown potatoes before,yet haven’t encountered this before.
    They look as if they have grown tomato trusses from the top of the plant where the flowers have dropped off, they actually smell like tomatoes on the vine but are hard and green(aliens), well they are to me, these are on quite a few of my potato crops, what are they, can anyone tell me what these are and why they’ve grown?…………
    Had a great crop of beetroot, spring onions, tumbling toms,until that dreadful wind blew everything to pieces, toms have more micropore holding the friut laden branches together than I’ve ever used in a life-time!
    Poor toms, there, there, no I didn’t kiss them better although I felt rather upset at all my dedicated hard work being damaged.
    Green house next year if finances allow.(which I doubt) never mind,will try all over again next year.
    Mant thanks, any answers to my potato fruit would be welcome.
    Hope to hear from you soon,

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Odelle
      Bad luck with the tomatoes, what a shame 🙁
      Re: Your spuds. These are “fruit” but beware – they are poisonous. I’ve seen them in another garden and when I inquired was told that they are the sign of a happy potato plant.

  7. snookles

    What month of the year do you give up for the tomatoes to ripen on the vine, before you start to think of other things to do??

  8. I have ripened green tomatoes for years by wrapping each tomato in a 1/2 sheet of newspaper, placing them, single layer, in a box and sliding them under my bed (the coolest room in the house). We have had fresh tomatoes at Thanskgiving and sometimes even for Christmas.
    You must check them at least twice a week and remove any that are softening, without ripening.

  9. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Josephine

    I only discovered this year that tomatoes need heat to ripen as well as sunshine. I’ve put mine on a sunny windowsill (indoors)and they are ripening slowly.

    There’s a good recipe here for green tomatoes

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