Ripening question

Discussion in 'Tomatoes' started by jimr, Sep 7, 2009.

  1. I have a dozen Opalka (similar to Roma, but stay on the vine) plants in my garden that literally grew like weeds. I have fruit on them that are double the size of past years but here it is September and there isn't a one that looks like it will ever ripen. I pruned them all back so more sunlight would get in but I don't think that is going to help. Last year at this time I had my salsa all done already..........!!! I have my doubts as to whether I will get any at all this year. I have a cherry tomato plant I put in a container at the same time and it has been producing ripened fruit for at least 3 weeks already. I did learn from the container planting that tomatoes take a LOT of water when growing. The sump on the bottom of the container holds close to a gallon of water and it would not make 2 days before it was totally dry. On hot days it would only make it a day.

    Any help on how to get these 'maters to ripen would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Most cherries are usually in the 60-65 day range, plus container plants usually produce sooner than the same plant in-ground; Opalka is considered a full-season (mid-to-late) I think 80-85 days. You should be about due!


    Pruning lots of leaves doesn't help much, unless you are removing suckers; pruning the leaves reduces the amount of photosysnthesis a plant can make. Also, the fruits shouldn't really be exposed to the sun, it's not necessary, and can even cause sunburn/sunscald. Likewise with setting tomatoes on your windowsill... a better place may be an out of the way spot on the counter.

    Hope this helps.
  3. gnubee

    gnubee Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    This from Wikipedia....
    1. Harvest regularly. For each of these methods, always check regularly. If you can, pick green tomatoes that have a tinge of color at the blossom end and feel a little softer than the solid young fruits.[1] If you pick them any earlier than this, they will not have matured and thus will not ripen at all. Cook immature green tomatoes as is.
      • If you're not sure whether your green tomatoes are mature, cut a questionable tomato in half--if it has yellowish interiors and jelly-like or sticky tissue, it is mature enough to ripen.[2] Obviously, the one that you cut in half won't ripen, but observing how it looks on the outside will give you an idea of what to look for with green tomatoes on the vine.
      • If you know there's a frost coming that will ruin all of the tomatoes, don't pick individual tomatoes; lift the entire plant out of the ground, making sure that some roots are still attached. Shake off as much dirt as you can and hang it upright in a dry, sheltered location, such as the garage. Avoid extremes (direct sunlight, total darkness). The tomatoes will still ripen almost as well as they would have on the vine.[3]
    2. Before storage, always remove vines, twigs, stems, leaves etc. that might rub on other tomatoes and cause damage during the ripening process. If the tomatoes are dirty, wash them gently first and allow to air dry before trying to ripen them.
    3. Use one of the techniques outlined below to store and ripen the tomatoes off the vine.
    4. Keep an eye out for decay or mold. If you see any, remove the affected tomatoes immediately and give the tomatoes more air circulation. The cooler the storage area for the tomatoes, the longer the ripening process. Expect about 2 weeks for ripening under normal, warm household conditions. If the house or storage area is too cold, the tomatoes may never ripen or will result in flavourless tomatoes.
    Jar method - For a few tomatoes
    1. Assemble the jars.
    2. Remove the lids.
    3. Put in one ripening banana per jar.
    4. Put in two to four medium-sized green tomatoes per jar. Do not overfill the jar, or the tomatoes might bruise.
    5. Screw on lid tightly.
    6. Leave in a warm, semi-humid place, out of direct sunlight. Check regularly - if your banana starts to rot before the tomatoes are ready, remove it and replace with a new banana. This method should leave you with ripened tomatoes within one - two weeks.

    Cardboard box method - For many tomatoes
    1. Prepare a cardboard box. If possible, add some foam or fruit cardboard in the base; or simply line with newspaper.
    2. Place a layer of tomatoes in the box, each one next to the other. If you have a lot of tomatoes, a second layer on top is okay but be gentle. Do not make any more than two layers in case you bruise the fruit at the base.
    3. Add some ripening bananas if you'd like. The tomatoes are likely to ripen anyway, as they release their own ethylene and influence each other. However, using bananas will help to speed up the process.
    4. Place in a cool, slightly humid room away from light. A pantry shelf is ideal if you have one.

    Plastic bag method - For a few or many tomatoes
    1. Assemble plastic bags. Punch a few "air circulation" holes in each bag you are going to use.
    2. Place 3 - 4 tomatoes with 1 banana in each bag. Depending on the size of your bag, you may be able to add more (or perhaps less). Be guided by the size of the bag, tomatoes and banana.
    3. Store in a warm, semi-humid area away from direct sunlight.

    Paper bag method - For a few tomatoes
    1. Open paper bag and insert ripening banana and amount of tomatoes as will fit.
    2. Store in a warm, semi-humid area away from sunlight.
    3. This method is useful where you don't have a lot of room and you only have a few tomatoes.

    • Removing some heavy green tomatoes from plants a few weeks before frost will help the remaining tomatoes on the vine ripen more quickly because the plant will allocate more energy towards them.[4]
    • This will also work to ripen green peppers (capsicums).
    • The bananas must be "ripening" - they are at their most useful when they are yellow with green on the ends. All ripening fruit produce ethylene, a gas that helps ripen the fruit. Bananas are not the only fruit you can use but they generally produce so much ripening gas in comparison to other fruits that they provide the best "booster" source of ethylene. And, unlike tomatoes, bananas ripen very well after they have been picked.
  4. alx

    alx Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Good info..Here is my experiences.

    I can about 200 quarts a year off 50 plants.I have selected the type that work for my area.The last two septembers here have been cool and wet-not ideal for tomato flavor.I picked my last batch yesterday and these will be for Ketchup.

    I have filled sunroom 4 times.At least 1000 tomatoes on tables.The leaves on trees give me indirect light this time of year with excallent airflow.

    Here is my patch.These plants would be 8-9 feet tall if they grew straight up.They bend down almost half way to ground-good sun protection

    Do too time considerations i can on saturday and pick on sunday.This allows any tomato not ripe enough 6 days,plus it does not effect ripe tomatoes.I would say most i pick are 80-90 percent ripe...

    I have bagged late season tomatoes that were 50% green.The only issue i had was the lack of sun and heat did not get them sweet and rain made them watery....

    I use organic fish emulsion and seaweed foliar sprayed every 2 weeks to get plants going early..Low on nitrogen but loaded with essential vitamins.

    I grow everything i grow from seed.After 30 years i know when to start seeds and they are never root-bound and grow unrestricted right away.
    Varities for your area should probably be shorter to ripe.Unless you can get a jump by starting indoors....
  5. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Alex, not that is a LOT of 'maters. I've tried to get my wife into canning some, but she backs off after a few tries. Plus, it takes up alot of room. How do you store your cans?
  6. alx

    alx Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I have extra closet and use the boxes they come in..I have found 75 cans gets me thru year...I could not tell you last time i bought tomatoes.We make our own bbq sauces for comps as well with ketchup,tomatoes....

    Also after few years glass quarts can crack in waterbath.I fill quarts with hot water and dip in boiling canning pot-this will shatter the cracked glass before you do it with matters in them...

    I split the tomatoes 3 ways with brother and sisters familys.We make a saturday of it every weekend from mid-august till this weekend.

    I am a nice guy,but know way would i do this as a gesture of kindness[​IMG]

    Plus,my 11o peppers take most of my spare time.LOL thru october.....

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