I have loads of green tomatoes still on my vines and it's getting close to frost. What can I do with them so they're not wasted?
When temperatures drop and Jack Frost threatens, you can still make use of the plethora of green tomatoes on your vines. Exactly what you should do with them depends on one important factor: whether the tomatoes have reached their “breaker stage.” This stage begins right as tomatoes get the slightest blush of pinkish or yellowish color, and it will help you determine whether you should pick the tomatoes and let them ripen, or whether you should get out the chopping block and put the green tomatoes to use in the kitchen.
Any tomatoes that have reached the breaker stage should ripen after you take them indoors. Place them in a cardboard box away from sunlight. After about two weeks in a comfortable 65- to 70- degree-Fahrenheit environment, the fruit will turn gorgeous, ripe colors. Kept in cooler temperatures (anything less than 65 degrees), ripening time increases by about two additional weeks.
Do not store the fruit in temperatures below 50 degrees because it won’t ripen. Try to store tomatoes below 40 degrees, and they’ll actually rot. And contrary to popular belief, storing tomatoes on a sunny windowsill is ill-advised. Keeping fruit out of direct sunlight or even in darkness renders the best results. To learn more, check out “Ripening Tomatoes Indoors” from the Colorado State extension service.
Tomatoes that haven’t yet reached the breaker stage can still be utilized for their unique, tart flavor. Try this delicious “Green Tomato Relish Recipe.”
— Elise Oberliesen
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