So, frost came a little early and your tomatoes are still green?! Don’t fret, you can give your tomatoes a little help to ripen off the vine!
First, a bit of information about what affects ripening. Ideally, it’s best to ripen tomatoes on the vine.
The optimal temperature for ripening on the vine is between 21 ˚C and 24 ˚C, which is probably close to the temperature in your classroom or house. Colder or hotter temperatures can slow down ripening. For example, hot temperatures can slow down the production of pigments like lycopene and carotene which give tomatoes their lovely colors.
It seems counterintuitive, but direct sunlight is not needed to ripen tomatoes. In fact, tomatoes on the vine outdoors and exposed to direct sunlight can heat up which inhibits ripening or even causes sunscald.
If anyone has ever told you to remove the leaves on your tomato plant to expose the fruit, don’t do it! Same goes for extra fertilizer – it is not a requirement for ripening.
As you get closer to the end of the school year, reducing water can stimulate ripening. But don’t let your plants dry out completely!
Ideal temperatures for ripening and storing tomatoes off the vine:
- Mature green tomatoes will store for 2-6 weeks at 15˚C.
- Tomatoes just starting to turn colour will fully ripen off the vine at 15˚C to 22˚C.
- Ripe red tomatoes will store at 15 – 22˚C for 5-10 days. The perfect place to store ripe red tomatoes is in a pretty bowl on your desk, out of direct sunlight.
Temperatures below 10˚C will cause tomato chilling injury, resulting poor ripening colour and can ruin the flavour.
Our last words of advice: NEVER STORE TOMATOES IN THE FRIDGE.