Tomato plants fruit from June until the first frosts, thriving in the warm, light conditions of summer. However, the ripening process slows down as the days become shorter, so fruit that develops from September may not ripen before the first frosts arrive.
Tomatoes ripen most quickly in a warm, light environment. The best flavours are said to come from tomatoes ‘ripened on the vine’, meaning they are picked from the plant after they have ripened. Therefore, to ripen late tomatoes it’s best to leave them on the plant for as long as possible, so the fruits will develop the best flavour. Only harvest tomatoes to ripen them indoors after you’ve exhausted all efforts to ripen them on the vine.
How to ripen tomatoes
Keep your tomatoes on the vine for as long as possible, increasing as much light and warmth to the developing fruits as possible. Inside, there are a few tactics to employ to speed up the ripening process – see our list of tomato ripening tips, below.
You Will Need
- Tomato plants
In your vegetable patch or greenhouse, remove any remaining flowers from your tomato plants. These have no chance of developing into fruit so nipping them off now will help channel the plant’s energy into ripening existing fruits.
Your tomato plants should have formed three or four trusses of fruits by early autumn, so to ensure these all ripen, remove the top of each plant. Simply cut through the main stem a couple of leaves above the uppermost truss of green fruits. Removing leaves from the plant can also ensure the maximum amount of light possible can reach the fruits, helping them to ripen.
After temperatures have started to dip, it’s time to harvest your tomatoes and move them indoors. One tip is to keep them in a drawer or paper bag with a banana. The banana will release ethylene, a hormone associated with the ripening of fruit, which will help speed up the ripening process. Check the drawer or bag regularly and remove ripened tomatoes as and when you find them.