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You can still save those green tomatoes

Doug Oster | Tribune-Review
A blushing tomato like this one will ripen if stored indoors.
Doug Oster | Tribune-Review
Don’t let those last tomatoes of the season go to waste. They will ripen slowly indoors.

The last green and blushing tomatoes still hang in the garden. It’s been a longer than usual season and they won’t be harvested until there’s a credible chance of frost. Even then, it’s not critical to have them off the vine, but soon after.

Holding a tomato which has just started to color and inhaling deeply reveals the aroma of summer. It’s seems like yesterday when the tomato cages were put in the place.

Some years the vines are bare at the end of the season, but there are plenty of fruit left and it should not go to waste.

Ripening trick

When the time is right collect all the tomatoes from the plants and separate them by color. One group will be green with no signs of change, others with slight color and the rest blushing. Each group goes into a bag along with an apple. The apple is supposed to produce ethylene gas, at least that’s what they say, which helps ripen the tomatoes. I often wonder if the tomatoes didn’t have the apple in the bag if they would ripen anyway.

Store the bags in a cool dry place, checking on them weekly. There’s always going to be a couple that will rot in the group with the most color, cull them as needed. The others will ripen slowly over the next few months. They aren’t as good as vine ripened tomatoes, but better than anything found in the grocery store.

Very young green tomatoes usually won’t ripen, if the fruit is hard and there’s absolutely no color change, the tomato might be better suited for fried green tomatoes or another recipe for unripe tomatoes.

There are varieties like ‘Longkeeper,’ ‘Garden Peach,’ ‘Japanese Black Trifele’ and ‘Golden Treasure’ are all varieties which store well. ‘Longkeeper’ and ‘Golden Treasure’ were specifically bred as storage tomatoes and the former is a favorite in my garden.

It’s wonderful to serve tomatoes at Thanksgiving and brag about harvesting them from the garden.

Article by Doug Oster,
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