News / 

Salvaging Green Tomatoes

Salvaging Green Tomatoes

Save Story
Leer en español

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

Larry A. Sagers Extension Horticulture Specialist Utah State University Thanksgiving Point Office All Rights Reserved

Frost has hit many gardens and nipped the tomatoes that are covered with large green tomatoes. Don’t let them go to waste but pick them and ripen them indoors. Pick ripe, nearly ripe and mature green fruits before frost occurs. Mature green tomatoes are those with a glossy, whitish green fruit color and mature size.

Pick fruits that are free of disease, insect or mechanical damage and are from disease free vines. Remove stems to prevent them from puncturing each other.

Gently wash and allow the fruit to air dry if it is dirty. Store tomatoes and peppers in boxes, 1 to 2 layers deep, or in plastic divided tray that tomatoes are packed in commercially.

Keep them in a cool, moderately dry. The fruit must be out of direct sunlight or they can be stored in the dark. As tomatoes ripen, they release ethylene gas, which stimulates ripening.

To slow ripening, sort out ripened fruits from green tomatoes each week. To speed up ripening, place green or partially ripe fruits in a bag or box with a ripe tomato.

Ripe tomatoes keep in a refrigerator for about 1 week but will lose their flavor. Green peppers keep for 2 weeks. Green, mature tomatoes and peppers stored at 65-70 degrees, will ripen in about 2 weeks. At 55 degrees, they will ripen in 3-4 weeks.

Cooler temperatures slow the ripening process. Storing tomatoes below 50 degrees will slow ripening, but the flavor is not as good.

Tomatoes and green peppers stored where the humidity is too high makes the fruit mold and rot. If humidity is too low, the fruit shrivels and dries out. Try different areas in your home to determine what works best.

Tomatoes and green peppers ripened indoors are not as flavorful as vine ripened fruits. However, compared to what is often in the stores in the winter, they are very tasty.

Cooler temperatures slow fruit ripening because the red tomato pigments, lycopene and carotene, are not produced above 85 degrees F nor lycopene below 50 degrees F.

Gardeners try to extend the life of their plants by covering them with cloth or plastic. Covering plants works well for nearly red tomatoes, but not as well for mature green ones. Though foliage may sometimes be saved, research shows that chilling injury on green fruit occurs

Red ones well on their way to ripening tolerate colder temperatures at temperatures of 50 degrees and decay losses rise markedly on fruit exposed to 40 degrees F. Discard green fruit, as it is more likely to spoil than ripen and never develops as good of flavor.

Mature green fruit will develop good flavor. Mature green tomatoes are large and have turned light green to white. If cut open, seeds are encased in gel and the cavities in the fruit is full of liquid. Ways to use green tomatoes include: Tomato pickles, Tomato relish, Green tomato mince meat, Stewed tomatoes, Green tomato pie, Green tomato marmalade.

Most recent News stories


Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast