2 Ways to Have Fresh Tomatoes This Winter!

If you have a vine full of green tomatoes and an overnight frost just waiting to hit, I feel your pain. But you CAN pick and store those green tomatoes and enjoy them late into the fall or even early winter.  Here’s how!



The clock is ticking away on fall in Southern Ontario.  Like sand through the hour glass, these are the days of the scraggy looking garden.  The last dregs of tomatoes sit on the vines as green as can be but if you grab them before the frost hits you can ripen them inside your home and store them for the winter. I know.  It’s a tomato miracle.

Now, as someone who doesn’t even love tomatoes, I have a curiously HUGE desire to hang onto them as long as possible.  I might as well tell you. I kind of grew to enjoy tomatoes this summer. I still can’t pick them off the vine and eat them like an apple like some lunatics can, but I love them sliced into a salad with basil and balsamic vinegar. Buffalo mozzarella too if I’m feeling fancy. And especially flush with cash.

But I know, I just KNOW I won’t be buying tomatoes in the grocery store this winter. They’ll be gross and mealy and since I didn’t grow them myself, I won’t have the incentive to eat them. I’m sort of like a child that way. I’m more likely to eat a vegetable I’m not in love with if I grew it myself. I contemplated planting a big ham in the spring to see if I’d develop a taste for it.  Never got around to it.

If you, like me, want to hold onto the things in your garden for as long as possible, I have 2 ways to keep you in fresh tomatoes for the winter. Kind of. You’ll see what I mean.


 That’s right.  If you have a cherry tomato plant go outside right now and snip off a cutting.

A small sucker would do nicely.

Bring it inside and put it in a jar of water.




Tomatoes will grow roots almost overnight. Kay, maybe a week or so. They’re good like that.


Cutting Roots

Once a good solid base of roots has grown, (more than mine has here) plant it in a pot and put it in the sunniest, brightest windowsill you have.

If you’re lucky, by January or February you’ll have a teeny, tiny, tomato or two. At the very least you’ll have some fun.


Before really cold overnight temperatures hit, and definitely before the frost shows up, pick all of your unripe tomatoes.


Basket Of Tomatoes


Place a single layer of them in a basket, crate or cardboard box.

Place a sheet of newspaper over them.

Put down one more layer (no more ’cause the bottom ones will bruise) of tomatoes.

Many people suggest wrapping each tomato individually in newspaper or tissue paper.

I wasn’t about to do that with the amount of tomatoes I’m gonna have.

I may try it on a few of them just to see the difference though.

Judging by the small experiment I’ve done with these tomatoes here, it doesn’t look like the really unripe tomatoes with shiny skins are going to ripen.

So don’t bother with the really shiny, waxy looking ones.  Green is fine.  Completely immature and shiny is not.


Storing Tomatoes


Then all you have to do is bring them inside and put them in a cool room.

They’ll be ripe by Christmas.


Holding Tomatoes


The warmer the room, the more quickly they’ll ripen.

If you leave them in a warm place like your kitchen counter for a couple of weeks, they’ll be ripe and delicious in no time.

The same, incidentally, cannot be said for a great, big ham. It’ll just be ripe. 


  1. Chris says:

    Thanks for the cherry tomato advice. Between the rabbit, the chipmunk and the squirrels getting to the ripe ones before them has been fun. I can tease them during the winter when they see the tomatoes ripen on the window sill.

  2. Alex says:

    I’m about to do this this weekend. This should be an interesting science experiment. Thanks for the great post!

  3. Dawna Jones says:

    I am so glad you told us how to do this!Was wondering what we were going to do with all the unripened ones.Thank you. My husband actually had the nerve to buy store bought tomatoes the other day,I refuse to eat them after what we enjoyed this summer!

  4. susan says:

    I know lots of people have great success with ripening tomatoes, but I haven’t been so lucky. Tried several ways during the years. Must not be in the cards for me. Congrats and “good job” to those who can make it happen!

    Sooooo, in order to get the wonderful tomato-ey goodness in winter (especially in a grilled cheese sammy) I am trying some tomato jam made during the height of the season. I have two recipes, and both are savory rather than sweet. I hope it tastes good!

    Thanks Karen. for all the inspiration you give. You are one funny chick! (pun intended)

  5. Sarah A. says:

    We have so many green tomatoes, so your post is prefect timing. I was so sad to think that we would have so many tomatoes go to waste. Tonight I shall harvest & wrap!

  6. jan says:

    Made green tomato salsa last year-incredible! (you add tomatillas to it-awesome topping for fried eggs, little cheese, warm tortillas-wow)

  7. Elen Grey says:

    I was going to make green tomato relish with mine. Sometimes called green tomato chow or chow chow, and which I first tasted on Prince Edward Island in September. It came with my fish cakes. Holy, green tomato, Batman! It was a total tomato-gasm. Maybe I’ll do a bit of both now. Thanks for the tip.

  8. Mary Werner says:

    Fried Green Tomatoes are the best part of growing tomatoes. Please say you will try them and tell us what you think.

  9. Terry Sears says:

    Green tomatoes I have a lot of them. Fried green tomatoes I would love to try does anybody have a recipie for them?? Karne I love the trick about rooting the cuttings. Never thought of that. Especially for a plant that has been a good producer and a variety that I like. Thanks for the tips Karen.

    • Jen says:

      Salt,pepper and sugar tsp of each. Fry in butter. If you want a batter, one egg, 1/2 cup milk and two cups flour. Dredge in flour, then in milk-egg mixture, then in flour again. Fry in butter. Yummy

    • Donna says:

      Google for a recipe and make sure you make the remoulade sauce. Especially the New Orleans one. It’s so good you will want to use it on everything including sandwich’s

  10. Kat says:

    Not a big tomato fan but hey isn’t that your beekeeper friend those tomatoes are sitting on!!!

  11. Patti says:

    Okay. Awesome! This is the second year in a row that we have tried to grow tomatoes. And we have loads and loads of green tomatoes, but you would think we`ve have gotten ONE red ripe tomato. Nope. Not even one. So three HUGE tomato plants later, I have a gazillion unripened ones. Now I know the trick, and I`m totally going to do that.

    Now, Karen. I know you love chips. What about tortillas? Because fresh salsa is better than any store bought salsa in the world, and there are SO many uses for it, too (Spanish rice from scratch, anyone?). I buy the Mexican Picante seasoning from Epicure and then all I need to keep on hand is some garlic, onion, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar and I have tasty salsa at my fingertips. Yum. I wish I could make some now!

    • grami says:

      I have been following you for months now, but never posted before…hope I am doing this right!
      I have done the ‘individual wrap’ thing with tomatoes here in Illinois for years! The reason I do them separate AND keep them in a cool place is, I want them to last ALL winter. I wrap each in a layer of newspaper and place them in brown paper grocery bags. The ones on top ripen before the ones on the bottom. Every few days I can go to the cellar and ‘harvest’ a couple. We are usually eating them well into March and by that time I have new plants started :) I have never had any ‘squishies’ except one winter when my daughter inadvertently moved one of the sacks next to the furnace…….YUCK!!
      I wake up every morning to ‘koffee n karen’ as my best friend says!! Thanks for listening to my rant! ciao

      • Karen says:

        Welcome to commenting Grami! You did it exactly right. I’m going to try both methods. Individual wrapping and layering. Maybe even straw. I have a *lot* of tomatoes. ~ karen

  12. Maggie V says:

    Actually Karen the tomatoes on the vine that you buy in the supermarket taste pretty good in the winter. We eat them all winter. We have never grown a garden so have not had the opportunity to wrap green ones in newspaper for ripening. Keep us posted. By the way thank you so much for my tea towel. Marilyn gave it to me when I was home for a visit. It hangs in the kitchen for all to see. I love it. Cheers.

  13. ev says:

    Did the wrapping thing years ago with not much success, but I am going to try again this year. We do have a basement, so that is where they will rest, and, hopefully, ripen. Not turn to mush. Won’t even think about that. Not this time….

  14. Sarah In Illinois says:

    Now I am kinda freaked out that you somehow *KNEW* that my brother gave me an entire grocery sack of green tomatoes last night and I wondered what the heck I was going to do with all of them!

    Thanks for your ESP! ;)

  15. Moe says:

    Have you tried fried green tomatoes Karen?? I’ve never made them but I did have them in a restaurant in North Carolina. Very, very yummy with sour cream on top. By the looks of the amount of tomatoes you must have, it might be worth a try.
    My one lowly patio tomato plant produced about 6 golf ball size tomatoes. They were delicious but not nearly plentiful enough.
    PS.. I love the look of those heirloom tomatoes. They’re so beautiful and I bet yummy. :o)

  16. White says:

    Those tomatoes that will not “ripen” in the next few days, but take two weeks or more, will not develop the expected\anticipated sweetness but rather retain a certain bitterness. I know this from years of experience… I still have enough “in waiting” tomatoes to fill several of those baskets. Eventually, I will have to toss the laggards among them.

    Next, The Art of Doing Stuff will describe various ways of dealing with…fruit flies.

    • Larraine says:

      Fruit flies! No matter how hard we try, every year they come from somewhere. Spontaneous generation. UFOs. But there is help. Not cure, but help. Take a clear glass (small fruit glass, empty jar, etc.) and put in 1/2″ – 1″ cider vinegar (or red wine vinegar), stretch Saran-like plastic wrap across the top tightly, slit several holes in the plastic and put a rubber band (an “elastic” to those of you in some parts of the land) around the top for a firm seal. The gnats will be attracted to the vinegar, get into the glass, and not be able to get back out. Now pour a glass of real wine and gather your family and friends around to watch this “captivating” phenomenon — as we did recently at a house party in the woods when it was too cold to sit outside anymore. Some people will be fascinated by anything.

  17. Karen says:

    Darn….I would have tried to root a cherry tomato inside, but wouldn’t you know it, we got a dump of snow yesterday…and it keeps on coming. I think there were still a few stems that avoided frost too. Oh well, next year! I think I’ll put up my Christmas tree today!

  18. Mary Kay says:

    Damn I wish I knew that little trick about two weeks ago…damn damn damn. I would love to have had fresh tomatoes for christmas. Well there is always next year. Thanks for the info Karen – even if it is a little too late for us Ohioans this year!! ;)

  19. Anita says:

    I am the fool tha wraps the tomatoes separately. I also throw a couple of bananas in the mix and a dish cloth on top. They take a few weeks to ripen. It works like a charm.

  20. Thank you so much for this post — perfect timing, as I’ve got at least 50 greenies outside that were about to just wither away. Harvesting today. Thank you! Great post.

  21. Tricia says:

    You could always pickle (the small ones) or fry those green tomatoes too.

  22. Tricia Rose says:

    I was wondering how I’ll ever choke down another supermarket tomato after feasting on my own all summer – on olive bread with butter and tapenade, if you’re interested.

  23. missnicoleo says:

    soooooo….are you going to grow brussels sprouts?

  24. Kristina says:

    Hmmm. Yes, I have put tomatoes in the window sill after the season is over, but I’ll have to try this method (that horse has already left the barn, but maybe next year…). The ethylene given off by apples helps other fruits ripen, like the old avocado in a paper bag with an apple trick. I wonder if it would help to add an apple to your basket? Or maybe you’ve tried it and it just didn’t work?

    • Karen says:

      Kristina – I think the goal here is to actually have them ripen slowly so you have tomatoes months from now as opposed to in a few weeks. I think. That’s my goal anyway, LOL. ~ karen

      • Andi says:

        My grandfather used to uproot his tomatoe plants, shake the dirt off of the roots and hang them upside down by the root in his basement (but I suppose any cool dark room would do). If it got too dry out he would mist the roots with water. He lined the floor under them with newspaper to catch the dead leaves, but other than that he would just “pick” the tomatoes as they ripened, usually through about Valentines, but sometimes as late as Easter. They all ripened, even the shiny green ones.

      • Karen says:

        Andi – I’ve heard of people doing that but, it’s not very convenient when most people are already pressed for space. Plus, personally … my tomatoes are about 10 feet high so … LOL … I’d have to build a whole other house for them. ~ karen!

      • Andi says:

        Yeah, rafter to floor it was about 10ft high, but space around it was probably only about that of a large garbage can, especailly after the leaves dried up. I would say he had at least a dozen plus plants tied up with a bungee cord, and in the spring when he threw the bundle away it easily fit in one garbage bag. Once the moisture is gone there is not much left. They kept it just to side of the canning storage area, where they also kept potatoes and squashes. The area for everything was about 3 ft deep and six ft wide, or about the size of a deepfreezer.

      • NeduMeritu says:

        LOL…just wondering if I had some tomatoes upside down as per my picture, (not very successful anyway) and now I would bring them inside ,do I need to hang them the other way ? …LOL

      • Karen says:

        Well I guess you got your answer, lol ! ~ karen

  25. Annie says:


    • Cindy says:

      I am trying the newspaper for the first time. I got nervous about it & just checked some I stored a couple of weeks ago. They are already red & were green when I stored them. What am I doing wrong?

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