Extending the Tomato Season

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Here's a tip out of today's paper: If you have to pick green tomatoes (e.g., to avoid a frost), wrap each in a sheet of newspaper and store in a cool pantry or on the basement floor. They should turn red/ripen in 30-45 days.

Of course, there's always fried green tomatoes.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (scharabo@aol.com), October 01, 2001


I use to do that and would have ripe tomatoes at Christmas. What a treat that was!

-- Cordy (ckaylegian@aol.com), October 01, 2001.

Another hint: Plant in a compost heap! I had a voluteer tomato come up in by pile one year, and long after the others were dead meat, it was going strong and producing heavily. The pile wasn't "hot", so I guess it was just the sheer goodness of the soil that kept it going, but WOW did it go.

-- Soni (thomkilroy@hotmail.com), October 01, 2001.

Last summer was so cool that I got hardly any ripe red tomatoes -- but I had about 60-70 lbs of green ones once frost was threatening. I tried the newspaper thing, I tried hanging the vine upside down in the garage, I tried the ripe apple trick, I tried putting them out in cardboard boxes in the garage....

The taste was disappointing, I thought. What there was of it. Mainly they tasted sort of like the poorer grocery store ones, but they WERE cheaper than those by that time, not to mention organically raised.

I have been wondering if it has to do with specific varieties of tomatoes that ripen well in this manner. If anyone has opinions on this -- what variety you planted that you thought ripened well by these alternative methods, I'd sure like to hear about it.

The way I extended the season last year was a big hoop house that was loaned to me. I don't have it this year, so I put up Mega-hoops over the beds when the nights started getting brisk, and covered it over with 6 mil plastic sheeting to raise temperatures, keep it warm overnight, and keep on vine ripening the ones left on the vine. So far, it's working well. I won't have them at Christmas around here, we'll be down to below zero by then (sometimes as low as -45 F), but I will be able to wring the last vine-ripe out of them.

Talk not to me of green tomatoes...I still have pints and pints of dill pickled green tomatoes (no one will eat them but me. Wimps.), and pints and pints of green tomato mincemeat, and pints and pints of sweet green tomato pickles....This year, anything that didn't make the grade got to be compost instead!

-- julie f. (rumplefrogskin@excite.com), October 01, 2001.

I grow too many tomatoes to wrap each green one in newspaper to ripen. I just dump them all out on old sheets or newspaper on the floor in the shed or garage. I always have loads at the end of our season here in the Pacific Northwest. We have had troubles with late blight here and if you don't pick all of your tomatoes at the first sign of it they will all rot within days (hours?). I pick EVERYTHING even the small hard green ones. They all seem to ripen (if they don't rot) inside.

No they are not as tasty nor do they have that nice firm texture but they make great soup and sauce or salsa. I have had really good luck with a variety called BIG BEEF a hybrid carried by lots of seed companies. Big production, great taste, disease resistance, and they keep as good as any it seems. There are some varieties grown just for storage qualities. Most seed catalogues have one or two such.

I agree about green tomatoes - a little goes a long way. Wait for them to ripen inside and make sauce or salsa to freeze or can. You can always jazz up the taste with seasoning if the tomatoes are not the best tasting. Or easier yet throw them whole in the freezer in bags. Run them under hot water before thawing - skins come off pretty easy- then use in soup or sauce. Drying in dehydrator concentrates taste and sweetness and texture becomes a non-issue. Store in freezer then soak in italian dressing and dice into salads. Yum! I don't peel before drying - just core then slice small ones in half or large ones about 1/4 inch thick. Dry until leathery.

Tomatoes - Yum!


-- Sara Perry (JPerry1218@aol.com), October 06, 2001.

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