Friday, October 5, 2012

Too Many Green Tomatoes? How to Wrap, Store & Ripen Indoors


I don’t know about you, but my tomato plants are slowly dying off as we transition into fall. The problem is, I still have lots of healthy green tomatoes on my plants and I don’t want them to go to waste. The good news is I have a secret to ripen green tomatoes indoors and I’ll share it with you. Wrap them up and store in a cool, dark location to enjoy ripe tomatoes well into November.

What You’ll Need

  • Healthy Green Tomatoes
  • Pieces of Brown Paper Bags
  • Elastics
  • Magic Marker

Choose Healthy Green Tomatoes

In order for this secret to work, you really need to be picky about which green tomatoes you choose to ripen indoors. Only choose those that are healthy and firm and have no signs of rot. If they’re already beginning to rot on the plant, they’ll continue to rot indoors.

Make sure there are no splits as these can lead to rot as well. I always go a step further and inspect my green tomatoes for bugs picking off any I see and ensuring they haven’t left any damage behind, i.e. holes or bite marks that could lead to rot.

Wrap Green Tomatoes in Brown Paper Bags

I prefer to use pieces of brown paper bags that are a little thicker than some of the cheaper brands sold in stores. When fall rolls around, I save the bags I get from the convenience store when I pick up the odd gallon of milk and a couple of cans of cat food. Only use bags that are clean and dry - no grease stains from your favorite Chinese takeout or pizza joint.

Cut your brown paper bags into pieces large enough to wrap the entire green tomato. Leave a little extra room to tie the bags with elastics or to fold securely. Remove any stems, even the little nubs because these will begin to decompose and can cause your green tomatoes to rot while they ripen indoors.

Tightly wrap your green tomatoes with your pieces of bag without bruising or injuring the tomatoes in any way. Secure the tops of the bag pieces with an elastic or fold in a way that secures the bag in place - I haven’t figured this out yet so I use elastics. The point is to wrap your green tomatoes so no air can find its way in.

Choose a Dark, Dry & Cool Storage Location

Find a dark, dry, cool spot in the house to place your wrapped green tomatoes. I’ve found that a closet I use for storage and don’t go in very often works best for me. If you’re running a wood or pellet stove, choose an area as far away from the direct heat as possible - I learned this the hard way. One year I stored my wrapped green tomatoes in a closet directly above the wood stove and they rotted before ripening.

Place your wrapped green tomatoes in a single layer and make sure none of them are touching. If one happens to rot and is touching another wrapped tomato, the rot can quickly spread. Write the date you placed them in storage on the paper bags.

Check on your wrapped green tomatoes occasionally, about once a week after the first 2 weeks of being in storage. Unwrap them to check on their progress tossing any showing signs of rot. Re-wrap tightly once again and mark the date you checked them on the bag as a simple reminder. Lastly, be patient because it can take anywhere from a few weeks to a month to ripen green tomatoes indoors.

Do you know how to wrap green tomatoes tightly without having to use an elastic to secure the bags? I’d sure like to know and if you can teach me, please leave a comment below. 

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