How to ripen green tomatoes

Ripening tomatoes is easy with our top tips

How to ripen green tomatoes
(Image credit: Unsplash/Sophie Dale)

If you're looking for advice on how to ripen green tomatoes, the great news is that it's very easy. You'll be amazed how well tomatoes will ripen even if picked while still very unripe – if you give them the right conditions. Use out top tips below to ripen yours within a matter of days. 

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How to ripen tomatoes


(Image credit: Unsplash/Tiago Fioreze)

First, though, here's what not to do to ripen your tomatoes: don't attempt to accelerate their ripening on the vine by increasing exposure to sunlight or picking off leaves. It's not sunlight the fruit needs to ripen but warmth. With that in mind, here's how you ripen your tomatoes once you've picked them.

1. If your tomatoes are quite unripe, place them in a paper bag, cardboard box, or inside a kitchen drawer. Do not use plastic bags, are they're not breathable, and your tomatoes likely will rot without ripening.

2. To accelerate ripening further, add a banana or an apple to the bag/box. These fruit, as well as the tomatoes themselves, produce ethylene gas that promotes ripening.

3. If your tomatoes are halfway or almost ripe, you don't need to ripen them in a bag; just leave them out in a fruit bowl for a few days, in a warm kitchen (at least 18°C), away from direct sunlight. 

Why are my tomatoes not ripening at all?

There are two main reasons why your green tomatoes aren't ripening despite your best effots:

1. You picked them when they were completely green. You'll have a far better chance of ripening your tomatoes if you pick them when they've begun ripening even a tiny bit. Even a tiny bit of yellow will give better results than a completely green tomato. If yours are totally green, use them in cooking instead of trying to ripen them.

2. You kitchen is too cold: if it's very chilly in your kitchen all the time, it may take a very long time for your tomatoes to ripen, or they might not ripen at all. Move them somewhere with a more consistently warm (but not hot) temperature. 

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Anna is Content Editor at Real Homes. She moved to the world of interiors from academic research in the field of English Literature and photography. She is the author of London Writing of the 1930s and has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening. At Real Homes, she covers a range of topics, from practical advice to interior and garden design.