How to stop green tomatoes from ripening?

The leaves are starting to turn colors, the farmers are in the field and the nights are becoming cool! All of these are indications that autumn has arrived and that the end of gardening is near! Many home gardeners still have green tomatoes on the vine and they are calling us wondering what they can do to preserve them. Here are some guidelines for choosing, harvesting, and preserving tomatoes.


Selecting and Picking

  • Before frost, pick ripe, almost ripe, and mature green fruits. Mature green tomatoes are those with a glossy, whitish green fruit color and mature size.
  • Choose only fruits from sturdy, healthy vines that are free of disease, insect, or mechanical damage.
  • Remove the stems to avoid them puncturing one other.
  • If the fruit is filthy, gently wash it and let it air dry.


  • Tomatoes should be stored in boxes that are 1 to 2 layers thick, or in plastic bags with a few holes for air circulation.
  • Just store them on a shelf in a cool, somewhat damp atmosphere.
  • Keep fruits away from direct sunlight. They may be stored in the dark.
  • When tomatoes ripen, they produce ethylene gas, which promotes ripening. Sort out mature fruits from green tomatoes once a week to delay ripening. Place green or partly ripe fruits in a bag or box alongside a ripe tomato to hasten ripening.

Green, mature tomatoes refrigerated at 65-70° F for 2 weeks will ripen. Lower temperatures cause the ripening process to take longer. Tomatoes will slowly ripen around 55° F, although they may be of poor quality. Similarly, if tomatoes are kept in an area with excessive humidity, the fruit might mildew and perish. The fruit may shrivel and dry up if the humidity is too low. Since humidity levels differ across houses, you’ll have to figure out what works best for you via trial and error. Unfortunately tomatoes ripened indoors are not as flavorful as vine ripened fruits. Yet, when compared to store-bought tomatoes, you will be ecstatic with your own home-ripened tomatoes.

If you would prefer to use the tomatoes when they are green and are looking for some recipes there are several to choose from including fried green tomatoes, green tomato pie, green tomato bread and green tomato relish.

Related Questions

  • Will green tomatoes continue to ripen once picked?

    If you see a hint of red on your green tomatoes, selecting them separately and bringing them indoors may be the best way to get them to mature. Tomatoes, like many other fruits, continue to ripen after they’ve been plucked. Ethylene is a gas that fruits, especially tomatoes, emit to encourage ripening.

  • What is the best way to preserve green tomatoes?

    Green tomatoes should be washed, cored, and sliced. Pack loosely in pint or quart canning jars. To insure safe acidity, add 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice or ½ teaspoon of citric acid per quart of tomatoes. Use 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice or 14 teaspoon citric acid per pint.

  • Why are my tomatoes staying green and not turning red?

    As temperatures rise over 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the ripening process slows or even stops. Lycopene and carotene, the pigments responsible for the fruit’s characteristic orange to red color, cannot be synthesized at these temperatures. As a consequence, the fruit may remain in a mature green phase for an extended period of time.

  • Can you pick green tomatoes and let them ripen the sun?

    Tomatoes and other ripening fruits, such as bananas, apples, and avocados, depend on ethylene gas to ripen, not sunshine, which is why Cunningham advises keeping green tomatoes in a limited, temperature-controlled space after picked so they can continue to grow.

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