Ontario Story: Ripening tomatoes

Tomatoes are climacteric, which means they will continue to ripen after they’ve been picked from the vine. This really matters to us in Ontario because the frost usually comes before at least a few of the tomatoes are done for the year.

When the season is coming to a close, speed tomatoes along. Cut back on watering to signal to tomatoes that it’s time to stop growing and start ripening. Pinch off any new flowers and remove lower foliage. Remove small tomatoes that have no hope of amounting to anything. Give the entire plant a gentle tug or twist, just enough to move the roots a little bit. This will get the plant to focus its energies on ripening fruit.

[passster password=”password”]Tomatoes ripen above 13 degrees Celsius. When the temperature is no longer going above 13 degrees during the day, or when there is a risk of frost at night, pick all the remaining fruit on your tomato vines. You can try covering the tomatoes to protect against a light early frost, which will give them longer to ripen when daytime temperatures go over 13 degrees again, but eventually you’ll need to pick all your tomatoes to ripen indoors.

When you’ve picked all the tomatoes on your vines, there are a couple of ways you can ripen them indoors. The rock-hard, small green ones are not going to ripen because they are too immature. Anything that has even a hint of colour on it will ripen indoors, though. Don’t put them on the windowsill because they don’t need light; they need heat.

For a small number, put about four medium-sized tomatoes in a paper bag with a banana or an apple. Check daily until they are ripe. If tomatoes don’t ripen in 15 days at room temperature, they were not mature enough; throw them out.

For a larger number, wrap each in newspaper. Put them in a cardboard box, also lined with newspaper, in a single layer. If you have many, many tomatoes and very few cardboard boxes, you may try putting a second layer over the first in a box, with about six layers of newssheet in between. These will take the tomatoes longer to ripen, depending on the temperature you store them at. At 10 to 15 degrees Celsius, they can take up to a month. [/passster]

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