How to Ripen a Tomato

If your tomatoes aren’t ripening as quickly as desired, try these tips to speed things up. Remove any unhealthy or overripe fruits that could lead to further rotting among other tomatoes.

Next, place the tomatoes together in a breathable container such as a cardboard produce box or paper bag and add an item such as an apple or banana to help diffuse ethylene gas released by tomatoes naturally.


Tomatoes ripen best outdoors where temperatures range between 65 and 75 degrees F, but extreme hot or cold temperatures can slow or even stop this process. Protecting plants from temperature extremes can speed up ripening. Frost blankets or shade cloth can be wrapped around cages to shield them from sudden temperature drops while providing warmth during cool nights.

Tomato plants require regular, yet moderate watering – no more than is necessary to prevent soil saturation. Too much water causes the plant to focus all its energy on root development rather than fruit development and ripening. On warm, calm days, give flower clusters a shake to increase pollination rates and the formation of larger fruits.

Green tomatoes harvested while still in the green stage — 30-60% of its surface is light red — can be rapidly ripened indoors by placing them near other ripening tomatoes or bananas that release ethylene gas, helping unripe ones ripen quickly. Ripe bananas also absorb any moisture released by rotten ones to protect the other good ones.

If you don’t have an ripening banana handy, placing tomatoes in a cardboard produce box will also speed up their ripening. Make sure the tomatoes don’t touch each other and place something absorbent like paper towel or folded cloth at the bottom of your container to absorb any extra moisture that accumulates; check often and remove any that show signs of rot from your container.

An airtight plastic container will trap too much of the ethylene that tomatoes release and trap humidity causing your tomatoes to rot quickly. A cardboard box or paper bag with holes cut in it might be more suitable as some people have difficulties opening containers completely.

Remember, indoor tomatoes will likely lack the full-bodied flavors found on vine-ripened ones; but as an easy and quick way of enjoying freshly grown, homegrown tomatoes, this method is very efficient.


Humidity levels also play a significant role in ripening tomatoes successfully. Too dry of an air environment causes tomatoes to wither quickly and become unsuitable for consumption, while humidity levels between 65-70 degrees provide optimal ripening conditions.

Tomato plants emit ethylene, a plant hormone which regulates their growth and stimulates their ripening by turning starch to sugar. Other climacteric fruits like bananas and apples also release this natural plant hormone when they ripen; to speed up unripe tomato ripening faster place them together in a paper bag with ripe bananas or apples as this will allow their ethylene gasses to diffuse into your tomatoes quickly allowing them to ripen faster.

One of the easiest and fastest ways to ripen green tomatoes is to pick them and bring them indoors, where it can ripen more efficiently than on its vine. Doing so would save energy that could otherwise go toward developing flowers and fruits on your vine, plus use up nutrients needed for growing new fruit or even just maturing existing fruits, leading to smaller less flavorful tomatoes than could otherwise exist.

To prevent picking an immature tomato too early, keep an eye out for signs of color change on its skin. A green tomato should ideally be picked at its Breakers stage when 30-60 percent of its surface begins showing signs of color change, before moving it on to Turning when 60-90% is showing some pink or red hue. Finally, it can reach Light Red or Red stage which indicates over 90% is red.

An often-made mistake when it comes to ripening tomatoes is placing them in a refrigerator, where its chilling temperatures actually hinder or stop their progress. A garage or basement with temperatures over 50 degrees are better places for optimal ripening conditions; fan vents or automatic vents can be set up so as to release carbon dioxide continuously, thus preventing moisture accumulation which could potentially spoil them.


Tomatoes require light for proper ripening, yet it is important not to overdo it. Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight may overheat them and interfere with pigment synthesis; overexposure also increases risk of uneven ripening or spoilage before becoming uniform red in color.

Tomato plants emit an ethylene gas that increases as they ripen, so to speed up ripening, tomatoes that haven’t reached full maturity can be placed in a paper bag with bananas to increase their levels and speed ripening faster. Other fruits that could also work include apples, oranges or pears. Artificial chemicals may be used to fumigate tomatoes to accelerate this process but this might not always be suitable for home gardeners.

If the tomatoes have not reached a stage where they can fully ripen on their vine, picking can begin when patches of yellow or orange start appearing. A green tomato with this trait ripens more rapidly and offers better flavour than one that remains fully green.

To hasten tomato ripening, place them in a brown paper bag along with bananas or other fruit that produces high levels of ethylene gas. This method can speed up their development by several days or weeks.

As part of helping tomatoes ripen more quickly, other measures include trimming away diseased or damaged leaves and pinching off flowers before they wilt – this will allow the plant to concentrate its efforts on ripening rather than expending resources on fighting diseases.

On warm, calm days it can be beneficial to give flower clusters a gentle shake in order to facilitate pollination. Tomatoes that do not receive sufficient pollination will not ripen properly and eventually fall off their plant.


Tomatoes require water for growth, yet too much or too little can inhibit the ripening process. Too much can keep tomatoes green without developing full flavor; too little will ripen but not produce full-flavored fruit. The optimal water temperature range for ripening tomatoes should be between 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you have green tomatoes that haven’t ripened yet, try placing them in a paper bag or cardboard box with apples or bananas, which also produce ethylene gas to accelerate ripening processes. Doing this may speed up their progress more rapidly.

Gardeners employ another tactic for speedy tomato fruit ripening by placing a bowl or pan on top of their tomato plants to provide them with an ideal microclimate and shield the fruits from being exposed to intense sunlight that could otherwise cause overheating and burn-related damages.

Refrigerating tomatoes can also help hasten their ripening. Just ensure you take steps to detach them from their vine before placing them inside; this will stop their resource-using mother plant from contributing its resources towards ripening and allows the tomatoes to ripen more quickly once picked from its vine.

Add salt to your water to hasten tomato ripening by decreasing their ability to uptake water, mimicking drought conditions and speeding up their ripening.

Tomatoes can be tricky vegetables to work with when they’re unripe enough. By understanding which conditions will cause them to ripen more easily, creating delicious tomato dishes is easier than ever! Be sure to take pictures throughout the process so you have an record for next year! Enjoy!

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