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Video:How to Ripen Green Tomatoes

with Pete Nitzsche

Learn how to ripen green tomatoes so that as the seasons change, you can still get edible tomatoes without frost. Follow these instructions to ripen green tomatoes.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Ripen Green Tomatoes

Hi, I'm Pete Nitzsche, county agricultural agent with Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Morris County, here for About.com. I'm going to show you how to ripen green tomatoes.

Only Mature Green Tomatoes Will Ripen

Once you get to the end of the season you may be faced with frost. On coming frost and you may have green fruit on the plant. It’s really pretty simple to ripen those fruit in doors and get a good edible tomato. As long as a tomato has reached the stage we call mature green it will go ahead and ripen fully to red.

Some of the clues, since the tomato ripens from the bottom up, if you turn it over and look at the blossom end, the bottom end, if it's got any kind of color or very white light -- it's probably mature enough to go ahead and ripen. And, it'll do that on its own, you just put it on the counter somewhere. They don't necessarily need light, once it's off the plant, it's disconnected from the leaves. The leaves need the light, the fruit doesn't need that.

Put the Fruit In a Paper Bag to Ripen Green Tomatoes

If you want to speed up that process, you can pt them in a paper bag with an apple or banana which give off natural ethylene ripening gas and that'll speed up that process and make the tomato ripen more quickly. One of the things you really shouldn't do is put them in direct sun -- that can harm the fruit, get heated up too much and cause sun scald or burn on the fruit and the fruit doesn't need light, the leaves do.

Wrap Fruit to Ripen Green Tomatoes

Also, if you have a bunch of fruit you've harvested just before frost or at the end of the season that are greenish or pinkish, you want to put them in a single layer. Some people like to wrap them in newspaper, so that if one starts to break down and rot, it sucks up the moisture and doesn't rot the whole batch.

Don't Use the Refrigerater to Ripen Green Tomatoes

We don't recommend you ever refrigerate tomatoes. Refrigeration impacts the flavor. Some consumers like that, but really it changes the flavor and we've done taste tests and people can tell right away which of the same variety is refrigerated or not. It tastes not as good.

Cover Plants to Ripen Green Tomatoes

If you'd like to extend your harvest through the fall and maybe if there is a light frost threatening, you can often cover the plants in the warmth of the day. You can do that with floating robe cover materials -- some people just do it with blankets and such. But the idea is, you trap some heat in there and in the middle of the afternoon you put those robe blankets and covers on and gives you one or two degrees of protection. So, even if it gets to 32 your plants are 34 and then if we get more favorable weather after that, you might be able to extend the harvest for a couple more weeks into the fall.

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