Green tomatoes? Here’s a few ideas that might help them to ripen
There’s been a sudden change of temperature over the past couple of weeks with a cool breeze and low night-time temperatures and it somehow seems too soon for autumn to be settling in. Surely the month of August is still summertime or is my memory of lazy, long school holidays as a teenager deceiving me? Is autumn on its way early this year or is it just a blip? We’ll have to wait and see but if, as a result of this cooler weather, you’ve started to look at your green tomatoes and wonder if they’ll ever ripen, there’s a few things you can try to speed them along.
1. Stop the tomato plants growth. Tomatoes need warmth to ripen and whether they’re growing inside or out, if you haven’t already, nip out the growing tips at the top of the stems to stop the plants growing any taller; remove any stray side shoots and remove any flowers or small fruit that are trying to develop. At this time of year it’s wasted growth, there simply wont be enough heat in the sun to develop and form more fruit. Remove the leaves that are shading the tomatoes and if the cool weather continues, in a couple of weeks time you might want to consider removing all the leaves from the plants which will allow the remaining fruits to bathe in the last heat of the autumn sunshine and not nestle behind cold, dark foliage.
2. Untie the plants and warm them up on a dark surface. If your plants are strung up, you could try untieing them and laying them down on black plastic or weed membrane (not something I’ve tried but have heard it’s very effective). The tomatoes will pick up the warmth from their dark underblanket.
3. Place the tomatoes next to ripe bananas. Placing green tomatoes next to ripe bananas (that emit ethylene, a ripening chemical) works to a certain degree but personally we’ve found that the skins toughen and turn blotchy and unattractive.
4. Ripen on a sunny windowsill. Pick the fruit and place on a paper towel on a warm, sunny windowsill to ripen. We’ve found this more effective than laying next to ripe bananas.
5. Don’t panic. Don’t try to ripen them, but use the tomatoes green. Our favourite chutney is the green tomato and chilli recipe linked here and nobody will ever know you’ve added them to your iced buns! And fried green tomatoes isn’t just the title of a film, they are a tasty accompaniment to a dish. I’ve successfully frozen small bags of green tomatoes too that I didn’t have time to do anything with.
Do you have any tips for speeding along the ripening process for your green tomatoes or do you take the laid back approach and let them be?
If you’re lucky and your tomatoes are ripening beautifully, here’s a very quick and easy salsa recipe. You may find you’ll never buy a jar again once you’ve tried it.
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 large red onion chopped
2 garlic cloves crushed
1-2 hot green chillies or to taste
450g/1lb ripe tomatoes
4 tsp chopped coriander
Dry fry the seeds in a heavy based saucepan for a few minutes, then crush using a pestle and mortar. Mix together all the ingredients, cover and stand for at least 30 mins or overnight to allow the flavours to develop