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We are at the end of our tomato growing season here, and of course there are scads of tomatoes left on our 3 plants - some with color, others still totally green. As a child I remember my mom picking tomatoes and bringing them into the house to ripen over the fall. Often we would have garden grown tomatoes that were brought inside until the end of November. However, I also the fruit flies that seems to always plague them. I don't have a very good place to leave tomatoes on vine in my home, but I do have an old garage I've converted into a garden shed. There's on east facing window (onto a steep hill above). I leave the garage door at least partly open for about 16 hours a week (west facing).

I'm wondering what people's opinions are on if tomatoes left on about a foot of vine and hung on a will will ripen in this environment? I may try bring a few into my kitchen also just for fun.

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Green tomatoes don't need light to ripen, they need ethylene and heat since they're a climacteric fruit. So, some people uproot the entire plant and hang it upside in the garage. Or, you could pick the green tomatoes and put them into a bag with some ripening bananas to supply the ethylene.

However, although they might change color, soften etc, they won't get any sweeter since the plant is not longer able to supply any sugars.

  • Starches are turning to sugars...plant supplies complex carbohydrates, ripening causes some starch to turn to a simple carbohydrate. Doesn't matter that much how long a fruit hangs on the vine in terms of taste. – stormy Sep 30 '17 at 22:13
  • At some point before the first frost, you'll can pick all the shiny green ones, and those that are farther along. No point picking the dull green/fuzzy ones. They won't ripen. Put the shiny green and not quite ripe ones in a plastic bucket, or other drip proof container, and add an apple or banana for ethylene and cover lightly. Look for and remove ones that have gone rotten every few days. Rinse any rot juice off good tomatoes. You don't want the fungus to spread. If you keep an eye on them, you can have tasty fresh ripened tomatoes through Thanksgiving, sometimes Christmas. – Wayfaring Stranger Oct 1 '17 at 15:02
  • @Graham Chiu - I've had them get sweeter. The green is chlorophyll, so the fruit can fix carbon into sugar. The extent to which that happens probably depends on variety, as well as available light. – Wayfaring Stranger Oct 1 '17 at 15:08
  • I did the hanging upside-down in the garage thing this year and it worked better than anything I've ever done. Even small tomatoes grew larger and ripened. I did not water, just pulled up and hung them in the garage and waited. – Steve Dec 1 '17 at 15:40

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