2 Ways to Have Fresh Tomatoes This Winter!

Title

 

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 basil is longgggg gone, the beets harvested and the last dregs of tomatoes sit on the vines as green as can be. They will not turn red before the frost. They just won’t. I think it’s because they hate me.

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.

 

Clippings

 

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.

Juding 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.

 


 

64 Comments

  1. Annie says:

    THANK YOU!

    • 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?

  2. 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.

  3. missnicoleo says:

    soooooo….are you going to grow brussels sprouts?

  4. 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.

  5. Tricia says:

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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!! 😉

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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)

  12. 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! 😉

  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. 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.

  15. 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:

      Hi!
      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

  16. Kat says:

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

  17. 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

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. jan says:

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

  21. 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!

  22. 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)

  23. 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!
    http://www.dawnajonesdesign.com/

  24. Alex says:

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

  25. 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.

  26. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Thanks Karen..You always seem to post things right when I need to know them..Will give it a try!!!

  27. Melissa says:

    Oh, a little too late as we had our first frost last week…and still eight million green tomatoes on the vine. I’ll try to remember for next year – thank you!

  28. Rktrixy says:

    Nice! Thanks for the papering method – that is very cool.

    Don’t forget green tomato mincemeat, fried green tomatoes, etc. All the other methods to use up green tomatoes invented by our fore-mothers.

  29. Barbie says:

    I do this every year because we get such an early frost every year. I drives me crazy that we usually get our first frost that kills my tomatoes plants by late Aug. So I bring them all in the house and start the layering process, then I can them. I didn’t know that you could put them in a “cool” room and they’d rippen slower! I will try this next year! Thanks again Karen.

  30. Zoe says:

    Two questions

    My neighbors grew (and have kind of abandoned) some tomato plants in our patch of earth
    1. Is it appropriate to “borrow” a piece to root
    2. Any particular part I should “borrow” – it’s quite huge this plant..

    I need to go the dollar store and buy lots of plant pots and them somehow camouflage them so my husband doesn’t notice all these random plants everywhere.

    The funny thing (ish) about this is that my mother used to do this all the time and it used to drive me and my sister crazy – these little shoots in our good drinking glasses sprouting leaves and green slime (when left too long) and now I’m doing it too!

    • Karen says:

      Zoe – Totally appropriate to borrow a piece to root. It’s best to stick with a cherry tomato though. Big tomatoes won’t work. If it’s a cherry tomato you’re working with just snip off any small tip or sucker. You want actual stem, not just leaf. ~ k!

  31. Danielle m. says:

    Aaand again you made me laugh out loud in a public place while by myself. The airport this time. It was the ham that did it. The men across from me look a little worried…

  32. Melissa L says:

    Okay… living in Southern California I was all full of myself that I had vegies while you still had seedlings, but since we don’t have basements, nor anywhere even approaching a cool temp, you win for longest enjoyment of produce!

  33. Renee says:

    Totally works. Just remember to check them, as they will all ripen at the same time. I had to start mine 2weeks ago, and I am now at a few ripe every couple of days from 2 big terra cotta pots.

  34. JoAnna says:

    Karen I have a question about the start method. Will you have tomatoes in the winter if you start a plant in your house? I think they need bee’s (or some such bug) to pollinate them, don’t they?

    • Karen says:

      JoAnna – Well I got this method from Linda Crago who runs an heirloom vegetable farm, specializing in tomatoes. Tomatoes self pollinate. Actually, they don’t actually self pollinate, but they can pollinate themselves with a little help from you. The plant just needs a little breeze, or shake now and again from you. You can pollinate it yourself as well with a Q tip. As far as I know, Linda didn’t do any of these things when she tried this last year. She usually just lets a tomato plant “do it’s thing”. Don’t expect a ton of tomatoes. This is more of a fun experiment that will result in a few cherry tomatoes. 🙂 ~ karen

  35. Upon reading this post, I jumped up, put on my jacket and picked all the green tomatoes that I was hoping would ripen on the vine before it got too cold. Weather report is warning of possible frost overnight so this post could not have come at a better time. I’m sure my neighbors are thinking I’ve lost my mind picking tomatoes at 11PM but who cares. I’m happily looking forward to ripe tomatoes in the dead of winter. Thanks from Brooklyn, NY.

    – Gitana the Creative Diva

    • Karen says:

      Hi Gitana! I’m very jealous you live in Brooklyn. I’d love to live there. Last time I was in Manhattan we didn’t have time to do much of anything, but next time we go to NYC I’m touring Brooklyn! And I … at this very moment and wrapping up all my tomatoes. I decided to wrap over half of them in newspaper to see if the result is any different than layering them in newspaper. I have *a lot* of tomatoes. Ran out this afternoon the same as you to pick all my peppers and sweet potatoes because we too have our first frost warning for the Toronto area. Good luck w/ your tomatoes ~ karen!

  36. Carol says:

    Karen, Thanks so much for this post! Knowing we were getting our first frost last night, I ran out and picked all my green tomatoes yesterday. I had no idea you could do this. It will be great to have more ripe tomatoes in the weeks to come. 🙂

  37. My Texas Table says:

    In the spring, I roasted green tomatoes and onions and then blended them with cilantro, white pepper, salt and cumin for a nice very mild green salsa that was perfect warmed to top scrambled eggs, pan-fried potatoes and soft warm tortillas for a heavenly comfort-food breakfast. I grew up in Alabama, so I deep fried a batch too. Texas has gotten to me though. I think I liked the salsa better.

    • Karen says:

      My house is filled with tomatoes. I think I’m going to try making fried green tomatoes for the very first time. Serving suggestions welcome. 🙂 ~ karen

  38. My Texas Table says:

    Oh fun! I like to slice them thinly, salt the slices and then let them sweat a while to soften. I hate it when the batter cooks faster than the tomato and the tomato is still cold and crunchy inside when the batter is done. The salting and thin slices help with that. You can experiment with the batter. Some like egg or buttermilk, cornmeal or white flour, single batter dip, double batter dip – it’s all a matter of preference. Definitely include plenty of salt and fresh cracked pepper. Some people like a little cajun seasoning in the batter too. Fry them in hot oil until golden. Here’s the key – eat immediately while hot! Many people dip them in ranch dressing. I went to a really fun upscale restaurant north of Dallas that layered them with slices of fresh mozzerella. That was yummy! In Savannah,Georgia, a restaurant served them on muffuletta buns (a specific sourdough bun for muffuletta sandwiches from New Orleans, nearly impossible to find outside of NOLA so here’s a recipe – http://www.nolacuisine.com/2005/08/21/muffuletta-bread-recipe/) with olive tapenade and provolone cheese. That was yummy too! Have fun!

    • My Texas Table says:

      Correction: it appears the muffuletta bun is not sourdough after all. You can read more about the original sandwich on wikipedia, if you haven’t been to New Orleans to have it (definitely a good reason to go to New Orleans – ha!). Wikipedia gives a pretty decent description of the tapenade too. The fried green tomato version in Savannah was a fun take on the original.

  39. Angie says:

    I read somewhere that if you smack the tomatoes around a little, with a soft rake or a broom, the plant becomes “distressed” and the tomatoes ripen quickly. When we lived in Utah I always had loads of green tomatoes that never ripened before the frost came. We tried hanging them upside down in the basement one year, it was a mess and when they finally ripened, they tasted like grocery store tomatoes. Not worth it. Not worth it at all. I’d like to know how yours taste in a few months?

  40. Sewfrench says:

    Wondering if you updated this and how they are progressing? I know the few I left on the counter ripened in under 10 days, wondering if the paper held off or sped up ripening? Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      H Sewfrench – It isn’t actually the paper that hinders the ripening … although it does a little bit. It’s the cooler temperatures. The cooler the room the longer they’ll take to ripen. I’ve used all kinds and in fact made tomato sauce from the last week for lasagna. I still have all kinds of green ones too. ~ karen!

  41. antonio says:

    Will the first method work with any kind of tomatoe ??

  42. Barb says:

    I wrap my green tomatoes individually n newspaper ,and layer them with cardboard foam tray , in a cardboard box. They last

  43. t һave to wait as long, ԝhich means better online reviews for yⲟur shop.
    ‘І woսld not hesitate tօ refuse service to аn openly gay person oг persona.
    Ӏt cаn alsο repair thе bumper оf thе car faster and cheaper when compared to a body shop.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Optionally add an image (JPEG only)

  • About Karen

  • About Karen

  • My Latest Videos

Pin402
Share82
SUBSCRIBE if you like to sweat, swear and do stuff.
x
The Art of Doing Stuff