Tuesday, October 21, 2014

How To Ripen Green Tomatoes Into The Winter Tutorial

When you have a surplus of green tomatoes at the end of the harvest season, you don't have to watch them rot away on the vine. Years ago, my mother-in-law taught me how to pick them green and wrap them in newspaper to ripen over the next few months.  It's a simple way to enjoy garden goodness into the winter. 
Sort them and get rid of any with open skins.  Any that are turning reddish-orange can be ripened on your counter in about a week. Set those aside in their own shallow bowl. 
Set the ripest reddest ones on top, so that you use those first.
Now it's time to wrap the green ones. All you need is newspaper and some small shallow boxes. 

Start with the greenest tomatoes, and wrap those first using a single sheet of newspaper torn to about the size that can cover the tomato.   10-inch squares were plenty big for the tomatoes we grew. 
If you save the tomatoes that are already starting to turn yellow or orange and wrap those last, they will be on the top, and you will be able to find the ripened tomatoes more easily.
Line up the wrapped tomatoes in the shallow box.  Don't stack them more than two deep in the box.
Now they are ready for storage. Put them on a dark shelf in your cool basement, or in your pantry. They will begin to ripen, and when you're in need of a tomato, just unwrap. If the tomato is still green, wrap it back up, and set it aside. The tomatoes will ripen at different intervals, so you may need to check a few of them before you find one that is ready to use. I like to unwrap a few, and any that are turning orange-ish I set out on my counter to ripen, or I rewrap it and stick in a separate spot from the green ones. 

It is important to keep the tomatoes wrapped individually, just in case some of them go bad before you get to them, they won't spoil the whole batch. If you pick up a wrapped tomato and the newspaper is wet you can just toss it.

I've had garden tomatoes well into the holiday season, thanks to this method.  It is normal if you notice that the skins are a little thicker when the tomato finally ripens. They are still a lovely addition to a salad or taco, and it brings me a little piece of garden joy during our sub-zero winter weather.  

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