Green Tomatoes: How to Ripen…or Eat!

Green Tomatoes: How to Ripen…or Eat!
Share this post with someone you love...Buffer this pageShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on StumbleUponPin on PinterestPrint this page

When it’s time to clean out your garden for the year, you might be left with a lot of green tomatoes. What in the world do you do with green tomatoes? Well, you have a couple different options…

Green Tomatoes: Ripen Them!

If you’re one of those folks who wants their tomatoes deliciously red, but you’re running out of time to get them there—or you’ve just got some stubborn tomatoes, I’ve got a trick for you.

About fifteen years ago, my great uncle let me in on the secret of how to deal with tomatoes that just won’t ripen. Here is is:

1. Pop all those green tomatoes in a paper bag.

Staring at a plethora of green tomatoes? I'm here to tell you that you've got two options for how to deal: grab a paper bag...or a frying pan.

2. Close up the bag with a clip and let it sit. Check it every few days. Eventually this will start to happen.

Staring at a plethora of green tomatoes? I'm here to tell you that you've got two options for how to deal: grab a paper bag...or a frying pan.

This is our tomatoes a week after putting them in the paper bag.

As it turns out, putting tomatoes in a paper bag helps to concentrate the levels of ethylene gas—which is what helps induce ripening. I’m not sure what other magical properties a paper bag holds, but I’m so happy my old time farmin’ great uncle let me in on the tomato ripening secret.

We’ve also found that putting tomatoes in cardboard boxes (and closing the top) works just as well. Just be sure you don’t stack too many tomatoes on top of each other in the box. Before you know it, you’ll have a box of overripe tomatoes, as well as a big mess!

Green Tomatoes: Eat Them!

As a Minnesota girl, I’d always assumed that eating green tomatoes was a southern thing. I grew up in a family that did not touch tomatoes until they were red.

Staring at a plethora of green tomatoes? I'm here to tell you that you've got two options for how to deal: grab a paper bag...or a frying pan.

When I brought this up to all my peeps, they informed me that no, eating green tomatoes is not necessarily a southern thing, and that what I really needed to do was try some fabulous green tomato recipes to get over my ignorance. Then they told me about things like:

Green Tomato Relish from Spiraea Herbs

Fried Green Tomatoes from Southern Living

Amazing Fried Green Tomatoes from Homesteading On Grace

Fermented Green Tomatoes from Grow Forage Cook Ferment

Fried Green Tomatoes from A Cow Named Georgia

So. I was brave and tried fried green tomatoes and y’all….the magic! You can go from this…

Staring at a plethora of green tomatoes? I'm here to tell you that you've got two options for how to deal: grab a paper bag...or a frying pan.

to this fried green tomato yummy-ness!

Staring at a plethora of green tomatoes? I'm here to tell you that you've got two options for how to deal: grab a paper bag...or a frying pan.

Why did you keep this secret from me? I’m not even going to admit to how many platefuls of these made the journey to my very happy belly, but it’s safe to say that I’ll be making them again. And again. And I don’t care if it’s a southern thang or not.

So regardless of how you choose to enjoy green tomatoes—by eating them, or ripening them—I wish you the most delicious of harvests!

Staring at a plethora of green tomatoes? I'm here to tell you that you've got two options for how to deal: grab a paper bag...or a frying pan.

Grocery shopping in your garden today? Might I suggest a few other recipes?

Baked Kale Chips

Strawberry Celery Salad with Honey Dressing

Fried Radishes

Oven Roasted Green Beans

Do you homeschool? So do we! Check out my book — The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick.

That whole frugal living thing? It's not about money....except when it is. Check out my new book!

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER
Want to keep up with what's happening in the barn, the kitchen, and the garden in my Farmish Kind of Life? Sign up and I'll help to make your inbox farmishly fantabulous. *
* Without spam. Because spam is horrible. And totally un-farmish.
Share this post with someone you love...Buffer this pageShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on StumbleUponPin on PinterestPrint this page


20 thoughts on “Green Tomatoes: How to Ripen…or Eat!”

  • MamaTea, put an apple in the bag with them and they will ripen even faster. Apples ( and most fruits )give off ethylene gas which is what plants produce naturally to aid in the aging and ripening process.

  • I think you just cleared up a question for me. I had tried that before with mushy results. But I was told to put it in a dark closet. Needless to say, out of sight, out of mind.

  • Spider–never heard the apple part before! I will have to try that next year when I have tomatoes again! 🙂 Speaking of which, I was by my SIL's house yesterday and spied a bunch of ripe Romas on her vine…hmmmmm…

  • I've had success with something similar. Wrap each green tomato in newspaper, put all the wrapped tomatoes in a cardboard box and put in a cool, dark spot like under the bed. Check once a week and remove the ripe ones. Putting all of them in a paper bag sure sounds easier though. :o]

  • I don't want to undo the magic but I think it has something to do with a chemical called ethylene. It's the chemical responsible for ripening (and rotting) and if you trap just enough of it (the bag breathes some but plastic wouldn't breathe at all!) it encourages the fruit to ripen naturally.

    Cool natural world at work!

    But it could be a theory…..

  • I've always heard Mama Pea's method, but I've never done that because I KNOW I'm too lazy to unwrap and check the tomatoes every week. This sounds a lot easier. Even I can manage opening a paper bag—LOL!

  • I had to do the paper bag method too, as ALL of my tomatoes were green. So grateful for this trick, as I now have 7 freezer bags full of tomatoes in the freezer for sauce. FINALLY! Lol.

  • Another idea is to just use the green tomatoes, if you only have a few. DH made us some green tomato chili and it was fabulous–couldn't tell they were underripe unless you looked at them!

  • I just pulled a 5 gallon bucket of green tomatoes off the vine today because when they ripen on the vine they get blossom end rot. I thought I’d try this paper bag method and see if they didn’t rot. If they do, the would have anyways so no loss there but definitely a bummer! Anyone have any experience with blossom end rot? I’ve heard it’s from inconsistent watering which I’m definitely guluilty of but I thought I did a pretty good job this year, I’m wondering if it could be something else.

    • Blossom end rot is often caused by a lack of calcium in the soil. You can head this off completely by saving egg shells, drying them up and crunching a few shell’s worth into each hole when planting the tomato plant in the ground. If already planted, use something like a “Tums” smashed up and watered into the soil. Lastly, rotate your crops i your growing space so all the same nutrients are not sucked from the soil in the same place year after year.

  • I slice them green, batter them with flour and a little cornmeal and then slightly fry them in a LITTLE oil (almost like a parboil only frying) them cool them and lay them out on wax paper or freezer paper them stack them with paper between each stack, separating them into meal size packs.W hen I want fried green tomatoes in winter, I thaw them and then finish frying and browning and serve like fresh from the garden. You can freeze
    okra the same way.

  • My mom always said her dad would wrap each large green tomato in newspaper and they would be ripe in time for Thanksgiving. We also loved green tomato relish.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *