Tomatoes! How To Ripen Green Tomatoes Indoors in 7-10 days.

This post may be too late for those of you who have already harvested all your green tomatoes. I am guessing you either fried them or made them into some kind of salsa. That’s what I had to do last year with my abundant crop of green tomatoes. Well, this year is VERY different. I still have an abundant harvest of green tomatoes but this time they are ALL (with the exception of the ones I chose to use green) ripening. Yahoo! I am so happy. No longer do I have to worry whether or not I am going to have enough time for my tomatoes to ripen with our short growing seasons.

Tomato next to a regular mouth lid ring.

It’s November and I am still able to eat fresh ripe red tomatoes from my garden. How do I do this, you ask? I am going to share with you the method I have been using to ripen my tomatoes. I can’t guarantee it will work for you but I am hopeful that it will. Before I begin I am going to bring you up to date on how I grew my tomatoes this year-successes and failures all included.

Tomato Gardening Using the Mittleider Method

I wish I could say that we followed all the suggestions that were included in Dr. Mittleider’s book, The Mittleider Gardening Course, but we didn’t. My husband built very nice T-frames to string the wire cable across and hang the hay twine for the tomato vines to grow up. But there were a few problems that came up…

  1. I didn’t get my tomatoes attached to the twine in time so many of my plants were not growing straight.
  2. Though I pruned the vines early on, I wasn’t consistent so there were many areas I missed.
  3. I was supposed to feed my plants the mineral fertilizer for 7 consecutive weeks but I lost track so I think I only did it for 4-5 weeks.
  4. As the plants grew the vines got too heavy for the twine. And since I didn’t prune them properly there were way too many branches on the ground. Our T-frame cables couldn’t hold the weight of the vines. Next year we are going to need to add a center wood frame to support the middle section of the row. We ended up cutting the twine and all of the plants are finishing up on the ground.
Despite these failures we still had a very good harvest of tomatoes. Here are some of the things that went really well for us this year.
  1. The 25 foot long, 18 wide soil beds really did well for us. Since we didn’t get the automatic water system in this year I ended up watering every day with a hose by hand.  Because the plants were essentially growing in a shallow trench, I would have to fill the whole row with water before it reached the end of the row. This deep watering method kept the rows very moist, rarely leaving the soil dry before the next watering.
  2. Though I didn’t fertilize my plants as recommended by the Mittleider method, I do think the fact that I DID feed them has a lot to do with the size of tomatoes I ended up with this year. I have never before had tomatoes grow as large as and even larger than my hand. This year I had several that did just that. The average size tomatoes were a good size. This also could having something to do with the little bit of pruning I did and the varieties I chose as well.
  3. This year we planted 6 varieties of tomatoes. Of those 6 varieties 3 where our favorites- Black Krim, Amish Paste and the Abe Lincoln. We grew a Beefsteak variety that was very good also. The Black Krim was the best tasting slicing tomato. They are thick, meaty and have a very mild tomato flavor. The Amish Paste is a really good sauce and dried tomato. I was very pleased with these three varieties and plan to plant them next year.
  4. We covered our T-frames in 6 mil plastic once the weather started getting cold. I kept the tomatoes covered at night and also during cold days. The plastic worked really well except for the fact that we get high winds. The last high wind ripped the plastic from the T-frames. Next year we will have to improve our plastic covering.
Overall we are very pleased with the success of our tomato garden. We are definitely going to have to improve our trellising and pruning techniques next year. I highly recommend the soil beds and watering system Dr. Mittleider recommends.
How to Ripen Green Tomatoes Indoors.

Last year I tried a few methods of ripening but nothing seemed to work. I tried hanging the entire tomato, with tomatoes, upside down in the shed. That didn’t work. I tried rapping them in newspaper and storing the small ones in egg cartons and then storing them in the garage.  The method I used the year to ripen tomatoes was a combination of my mother-in-laws suggestions and my own ideas. My mother-in-law suggested the wrapping in newspaper and storing in garage method. I had few successful ripening but most of them rotted. This method could have worked had I wrapped each tomato separately. Since my last year’s harvest produced very small tomatoes I felt it was too tedious a process and just layered them in a box with newspaper covering each layer.

This year I decided to try the newspaper wrapping again, only this time I would wrap each tomato separately. I also decided the warmth of the house was a better place to try to store them than in the cold garage. And it worked! Each green tomato I wrapped in newspaper turned pink/orange within a few days. So then began the process of harvesting tomatoes. This is the routine I had for harvesting tomatoes this year.

  1. Each day I search for any red (or ripe) tomatoes and pick them. These tomatoes I use to make sauces and salsas.
  2. Each day I also pick all tomatoes that were pink/orange (or turning ). These tomatoes are then stored on my kitchen table and/or counter to ripen. I placed each tomato, side by side but not touching on a dish cloth. The not touch part is really important.
  3. Each day I also pick light green tomatoes. I don’t pick all of them but I do pick enough light green to fill a basket. By picking the red, pink and light green tomatoes, I figured it was giving the plants more energy to ripen the  rest of the green tomatoes. I do also wrap the dark green tomatoes but if I can I wait until they are a light green.
  4. I removed the remaining green vine from all of the tomatoes, wash, dry and then wrap each green tomato in small pieces of newspaper. Black printed newspaper type catalogs (like Rainbow Resource) worked really well. Then I layer these wrapped tomatoes in a basket or box. Only one or two layers high. I don’t think weighing them down too much is good for them and might end up with bruised tomatoes.
  5. I check each box of tomatoes every couple of days and take out all of the tomatoes that have turned pink/orange and then place them on the kitchen table with the others to finish ripening. The tomatoes will fully ripen in the newspaper but I don’t like when they do because they ripen to fast and I end up loosing some to rotting. It takes about 3 days for a green tomato to turn orange and about 4-7 more day for the tomato to fully ripen.


That’s it! The only down fall to this is that we have a table full of tomatoes and we can’t use my dinning table. I think next year I will have my husband build  a shelf to store our ripening tomatoes. I hope this post was useful to you and you are as successful as I am at ripening green tomatoes.

11 Responses to “Tomatoes! How To Ripen Green Tomatoes Indoors in 7-10 days.”

  • I’m going to try your method this fall! We still have green tomatoes on the vine, and we usually pick them before our first hard freeze and use them in green tomato relish. But I’d love to ripen them instead! Thanks for sharing this.

  • Mona:

    You are welcome. Please let me know how it goes for you.

  • Wow! Lots of good tips in here!

    I moved into a rent house around Feb this year and luckily my landlord was fine with me tearing the yard up for a garden!

    My tomatoes have been the most fun, tho I did plant a variety of foods.

    The tomatoes I planted in rows about 2 feet apart (much too close normally), each with a large or small tomato cage for support. As they outgrew the cages I began to link the cages together with the longer vines trailing on the ground, this helped to hold the cages together like one big plant. But when the tomatoes came and weighed it down and it pulled over the cages occasionally. This was solved my supporting the cages with bamboo stakes I’d cut from the side of a highway (bamboo is an exotic invasive and should be destroyed by any means possible, luckily its super useful as steaks or support systems for gardens). The bamboo worked great due to strength, and the little branches that can be cut at 4″ and used as support for tomato branches as well.
    While the tomatoes were too close, they seem super happy, and are producing a booming crop of cherry tomatoes, with the romas and super fantastics following suit. Early girl isn’t producing but they were bonkers in the summer.
    I had a party a couple days ago and my friends kicked a soccer ball around in my yard. It occaisionally went aery into the garden and knocked off green tomatoes. I’d never used them before but knew they were somewhat a delicacy, at least they are hard to find at the supermarket. So I looked up some recipies for pork stew with green tomatoes, green onions, yellow onions, red bell pepper, garlic, salt, onion powder, chicken broth and boillion, and I threw some cherry tomatoes and Tony Sac-here’s Creole Seasoning and it was to die for!

    Im going to experiment with your ripening methods, but luckily I live in Texas so I think I’ll be able to help the plants through the winter and then see what happens with second year plants 🙂 I heard of a New York Resturaunt who’s been growing their plant for years and its almost 30 feet long!!! I can only Imagine how many veggies it makes, not to mention the size of its root system!

  • Thanks! Your stew sounds amazing. I will have to try that. There is a farm close by to me that has a tomato plant growing in their greenhouse. I don’t know for sure how tall it is but I was told it’s as tall as the warehouse ceiling. Amazing!

  • ann:

    You really did have a great tomato harvest and a smart way to ripen then. My dad used to pull the vines with the green tomatoes still hanging on the vine and hand them in the garage to ripen. And I do like your new look.

  • One of these days I’ll figure out what all I’m doing wrong with tomatoes and will remember your tips when we’re threatened by a freeze. Have you frozen your paste tomatoes? I haven’t tried that yet (since I still get excited by my few tomatoes LOL), but I’ve read that it works quite well for saving until there’s enough to can them.

  • Mona:

    I tried hanging method last year. It didn’t really work all that well and it was kind of messy.

    Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • Mona:

    I have been freezing whole tomatoes and pureed. I have also been making sauces and freezing. Check out the Mittleider method and next year you will have an abundant harvest of tomatoes.
    Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • Thank you so much for sharing what worked, what didn’t, and the ripening advice!! Very helpful. I’m gonna try to remember to do the newspaper thing next year. I think Amish Paste tomatoes are what I’ll grow the most of next year. They have done the best for us out of like six varieties I’ve tried. I’m really hoping for a BIG tomato harvest next year 😉

  • I am hoping for a big carrot harvest like you had this year Kendra. I am going to try and plant the carrot variety you had a lot of success with.

    Look into the Mittleider method. I think you will really benefit from it.

    Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • […] Last year we had a ton of tomatoes that had to be picked green because the frost came before they were ripe. This year the same thing is happening except I have been able to harvest some ripe ones all summer. We still have a ton of unripe ones we had to pick green. Thankfully the we went  through a warm spell that gave the tomatoes a few extra weeks on the vines but we still ended up with boxes of green tomatoes. We’re going to have ripen them in the house. […]

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