Appalachia Gardening Preserving/Canning

How Granny Ripens Green Tomatoes In The Fall Of The Year


what to do with green tomatoes in october

Can you believe this lush green tomato bed? Our tomatoes always look like this in July, but in October-NEVER! By fall of the year our tomatoes are usually only a memory leaving us waiting for next summer’s bounty.

As I told you a few days ago, I watched a video made by a northern farmer about pruning his tomatoes to increase his harvest. I’m familiar with suckering tomatoes as they grow, but his method was pruning to the extreme. By the end of the season his tomatoes looked like trees with only leaves, blooms, and tomatoes on the very tip top of the very tall plant.


growing tomatoes in Appalachia

While we didn’t prune our plants throughout the summer, I did prune this bed as we were cleaning up the garden sometime in early September. I figured since I was about to tear out all the plants it wouldn’t hurt anything for me to give the extreme pruning a try so I did. The plants responded by shooting out new grow with lots of blooms. The fruit on the new growth didn’t have time to ripen, but I was able to pick a half a bushel of good size green tomatoes the evening before the first hard frost.


how to ripen green tomatoes

When I was just a young girl Granny and her friend Frankie Gillenwater would go to a farm up the road a ways and buy boxes of green tomatoes in the fall of the year. Nobody much wanted them and they got them for practically nothing. They brought the tomatoes home and wrapped them in newspaper storing in a cardboard box until the tomatoes ripened. Sometimes Granny would have fresh red tomatoes on the Thanksgiving table.

Actually Granny still uses this method when she can get her hands on green tomatoes this time of the year. I shared my late harvest with her. I’m hoping our green tomatoes ripen in their newspaper beds so that we can eat them between now and Christmas.



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  • Reply
    Oliver Holder
    November 9, 2021 at 9:22 am

    I’ve found it best to not wash them before wrapping.
    There is a variety called Long Keeper which is breed just for this purpose..
    I grew them one year and they work really well so long as you don’t ;et them get too far along before picking.

  • Reply
    Dianna Marie Thomas
    November 2, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    On Oct 2 you posted the recipe for canning apples….somehow I deleted that day along with sept 29th 30th..oct 1 2 & 3 but i would really like to know how those aples were canned! please help! Thanks!

  • Reply
    November 2, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    Many times I have had 2-3 plants with lots of tomatoes left on them at frost time. I pulled them up and hung them upside down in the basement or garage. They continue to ripen for a couple of months.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    November 2, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    My parents had a pear tree that had the biggest very HARD green pears! They never ripened until wind or critters knocked them to the ground and finally they would start to yellow-up and ripen…however, by that time the yeller jackets and other critters had their way with those ripening pears…Picking them up by then, there was not enough goody left to hardly make a preserve much less pear butter! Even though, I have seen my frugal Mother glean and peel a bushel of wasper, buggy pears, just to get a good run of pear butter! That woman loved Pear butter, better than apple! Ha
    One year Mom started picking those hard green pears off the tree at the end of the season, wrapping them in brown paper (saved from the store) bags, tore in just the right size to wrap and twist the ends so to keep them tightly covered. She would lay them in a single layer in a flat cardboard box and slide them under the bed…then lay a towel loosely over the box….Guess, she was afraid the dust bunnies would get them! ha….
    There is nothing like a old timey high bed to store ‘maters n’ pears for winter munching when you don’t have a root celler!
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    November 2, 2017 at 11:31 am

    My oldest brother, Bud, and his family kept tomatoes wrapped in newspapers and stored under his bed. He swore they had fresh, red tomatoes for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’ve torn off tomato leaves and stems until there was hardly anything left but tomatoes and they always done really well. …Ken

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    November 2, 2017 at 11:26 am

    Ethylene gas is used commercially to ripen fruit (tomatoes are a fruit.). Ethylene gas is produced naturally by most fruits, such as tomatoes, bananas, peaches, and avocados, and it promotes ripening. A method for ripening your tomatoes is to place them in a paper bag with a ripe to overripe banana or avocado.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    November 2, 2017 at 9:24 am

    I have never heard this about tomatoes. But I will have some the day before the first frost here this year if I get my timing right. I am still picking ‘reddish’ tomatoes and bringing them in the finish ripening inside.
    It sounds like cool temperatures slow the ripening process. I expect agribusiness has this all figured out to several decimal places but maybe not.
    By the way, your posts taken as a whole through the year illustrate how farmers and gardeners are practical ecologists. They notice details and think about interrelationships. Over years they develop a finely-tuned connection with nature. Hunters, fishermen and nature photographers do the same thing in a different way.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    November 2, 2017 at 9:13 am

    Thanks for the good information. Next year, I’ll try this pruning approach.
    On ripening green tomatoes in newspaper wrappings: I used to do that keeping method after every tomato crop. I haven’t done it much in recent years. We have a big truck farm and produce market near-by. They have lots of unripe tomatoes in their field yet. I’m going to by a bunch (if the cost is reasonable) and paper-ripen them in the cellar. Thanks again for another fun and helpful article.

  • Reply
    November 2, 2017 at 9:00 am

    A few years ago, my daughter wanted me to fry some green tomatoes for Thanksgiving dinner. We had not had a frost so they were still on the vines. I didn’t do any special pruning or suckering to keep them producing. It was just a good weather year, so unlike the winter weather that arrived early this year and won’t let go. Mom wrapped sweet potatoes in newspaper and was able to keep them for months.

  • Reply
    November 2, 2017 at 8:34 am

    I’ve done the same thing with green tomatoes left on our plants in the fall and I have had fresh, ripe tomatoes at Thanksgiving.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 2, 2017 at 7:29 am

    My grandmother used to wrap green tomatoes in newspaper to let them ripen. She kept them in the cellar where it was dark and cool. It worked well for the ripening process. I think the cold dark place is essential to this process.
    The Deer Hunters grandmother Lura used to make a wonderful green tomato relish. I watched her make it once and wrote down what she did so I could make some. I made it but it didn’t come out quite as good as hers!

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