By Robert Laurence
Six Ways to Save All Those Green Tomatoes
you'd like to try this old trick described by a nurseryman in the 1890s to
save tomatoes from frost in the fall. He writes: "At the approach of frost
the plants will be loaded with full sized fruits just beginning to put on
the first whitish tinge - the first indication of ripening. In a warm
situation, with northern protection, dig a 30inch deep trench wide and
long enough to contain the plants, which should be cut quite close to the
ground. Spread out the plants with their green fruit in the trench until
about two feet thick, and over them place a covering of straw six inches
in depth, which should be held in place by the use of some light brush.
The warmth from the earth will ripen the larger fruits perfectly.
But sometimes it is impossible to pick tomatoes ripe from the vine. You may be
away for an extended period, or an early killing frost might be predicted before
there is a chance to protect the plants. Don't despair if this happens.
Partially unripe or green tomatoes can be ripened in several ways. Here are a
number of them:
Ripen large green tomatoes indoors at temperatures between 60" F. and 72" F.
Temperatures below 60" F. delay ripening, while temperatures above 72" F. are
likely to cause undesirable color and decay. Light is not necessary, although it
will increase the color of tomatoes somewhat. In any case, don't put tomatoes in
direct sunlight indoors - the added heat often deteriorates their quality. A
north window is best if green tomatoes are ripened in a window. Make sure that
the fruits aren't cracked or blemished, and that they don't touch, so that any
possible decay can't spread from one fruit to another.
Store green tomatoes wrapped in newspaper or packed in individual containers.
If the fruits are kept at a temperature of
55" F. using this method, ripening will be slower and they'll last longer. Green
tomatoes can be disinfected with a solution of one teaspoon of household bleach
to a quart of water before being individually packed. Dry them thoroughly with
paper towels before storing.
Store tomatoes separately in plastic bags, making small holes for
Leave a few inches of stem on each tomato when taking the fruits from the
vine and store them on trays or racks in a single layer.
Pull up an entire tomato vine with green fruits attached and hang it stem
up anyplace where the temperature is always between 55" F and 72" F. - a
basement, attic, garage, spare room, etc. An easy way to do this is to
string a rope from wall to wall and hang the plant on it. The fruits will
continue ripening long after the plant has wilted.