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Tomato Magic

Maybe everyone knows this trick. If not, everyone should.

I learned the Tomato Bag from Jim trick long ago, but it still never fails to delight me. I think it’s kind of a miracle. It’s extremely handy for the end of the season, or if you are going away, or if your neighborhood varmits have shown a worrisome fondness for ripening tomatoes. (Ours do, at times. Our squirrels are notorious samplers; they like to take one or two bites out of something and leave the rest behind. Fortunately, tomatoes haven’t been their favorite this year.)

early.JPGPick tomatoes that are mostly green, but that show some change in color– like a spot of red or an overall turn toward yellow. Take these still basically green tomatoes inside and give them a good washing to remove any dirt. As you wash the tomatoes, you can easily remove the stems too so they don’t puncture each other. Dry them completely and then put them all into a big paper grocery bag.

Fold the top over to close the bag.

Then wait.

ripening1.JPGLook inside every day to see what magical ripening action has taken place. You can take out some of the tomatoes that have fully riped and add more newly-picked mostly green tomatoes.

Check the tomatoes ripening progress every day or so. If you slip up on checking for ripeness and one goes mushy, simply sort out the rest into another paper bag, washing away anything suspect, and toss out the damp paper bag (or recycle it).

You can also use a cardboard box with a lid, if you wish, and arrange the tomatoes in two layers at the most, with newspaper in between. I’ve also heard of people wrapping tomatoes individually in newspaper and putting them all together in a box. I find the paper bag approach simpler and easier to keep track of.

It’s important to pick the tomatoes before even a touch of frost gets them. I have tried to ripen frostbitten tomatoes in the past and it never worked at all. They go mushy suddenly and it’s not pretty.

ripeenough.JPGIn case you are curious what makes the tomatoes ripen in the bag, I found a scientific explanation here. The ethylene gas from the ripening tomatoes stimulates the other tomatoes to ripen. The Tomato Bag is a cool trick to get the most out of your tomatoes.

Posted in • Growing.

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. Frost advisory means time to harvest or cover plants | Our Twenty Minute Kitchen Garden linked to this post on September 23, 2012

    […] red or starting to turn. The not-yet-ripe tomatoes are washed and dried, and then introduced to the Magic Tomato Bag. This process will only work with tomatoes who haven’t been touched by frost, so it’s […]