Today was a sad day. This afternoon I took out the cherry tomato plants from our garden. For the next nine months we will have to get our tomatoes at the grocery store, which are a sorry comparison to the beautiful homegrown vine-ripened tomatoes we have been enjoying for the past few months.

Related: Cherry Tomato Taste Test

But there is a silver lining. I was able to save some of the green tomatoes to ripen inside over the next few weeks. Read on to learn how easy it is to ripen green tomatoes inside.

It is finally time to take out our cherry tomatoes. They grew huge this year and produced loads of tomatoes!

When to Pull Tomato Plants From Your Garden

It can be difficult to know when to finally remove tomato plants from your garden. Tomatoes like warm weather and they start ripening much more slowly in cooler weather. The bees are not as active to pollenate the flowers and production slows. While some people keep their tomatoes in the ground until frost, this may damage any tomatoes still on the plant. It is now taking several days to produce a single pint of ripe cherry tomatoes, so I decided it was finally time. Before I removed my tomato plants I picked off all of the immature fruit to ripen inside.

How to Ripen Green Tomatoes

Step 1: Pick the Tomatoes

When I pick cherry tomatoes I usually keep them on the vine and pick the whole cluster of tomatoes. I do this because it will take the tomatoes some time to ripen, and by leaving the stems on they are less likely to crack. Damaged and diseased fruit will rot which may spread to other tomatoes.

Green cherry tomatoes and red cherry tomatoes
Before removing tomato plants pick clusters of green tomatoes to ripen indoors.

Tomatoes that are off of the vine will not grow any larger, and ones that are too green will never really ripen properly. So look for tomatoes that have reached full size and may be showing a slight bit of color. These should ripen well inside.

Step 2: Wash the Tomatoes and Let them Dry

Carefully rinse your tomatoes under running water. This removes dirt that cause spoilage. Spread the tomatoes out on a clean kitchen towel to dry completely before storing.

Green cherry tomatoes drying on a towel
Rinse the tomatoes and spread them out on a clean kitchen towel to dry.

Step 3: Store the Tomatoes

Select a container to store your tomatoes while they ripe. A box or basket lined with a few paper towels works well. Spread the tomatoes out so they get good air circulation. Store them inside your house (they like warmer temperatures) and they should ripen in a week or two. If you want them to ripen more slowly you can store them in your garage or another cool place. Make sure the temperature does not drop below 50 degrees for extended periods or so because this will halt ripening altogether.

Green cherry tomatoes in a basket
Store your tomatoes in a box or basket lined with paper towels. Spread them out so air can circulate.

Check on your tomatoes often and use them as they ripen. Remove any that start to go bad so rot does not spread to other tomatoes.

Final Thoughts

At least ripening tomatoes inside will prolong the season a little bit. Only nine months to go until fresh tomatoes again next year! I am already thinking of what varieties I want to plant 🙂

Hope you get to save some of your tomatoes to extend the season a bit. Happy Gardening!

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