How to Ripen TomatoesJune 7, 2023
Tomatoes are a staple ingredient in a huge variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes. From full English breakfasts, to quiches, risottos, curries and salads, tomatoes are essential. The tastiness of your tomato-based meals relies on the quality and ripeness of the tomatoes you use – as without perfectly ripened tomatoes, your meals may lack flavour. If you grow your own tomatoes or you’ve bought some that aren’t quite ripe yet, here is your guide to ripening tomatoes to perfection.
How tomatoes ripen
As HelloFresh Recipe Development Manager, Mimi Morley, explains, unripe tomatoes start turning red due to a chemical within them called ‘ethylene’. In the growing process, when a tomato reaches a mature state, it begins to produce ethylene. This ethylene reacts with the tomato fruit to start the ripening process. If your bought or home-grown tomatoes are still green, read on for how to ripen tomatoes indoors and outdoors.
When do tomatoes ripen?
Tomato plants typically produce fruit from June onwards in the UK, thriving in the light and warm conditions the summer brings. Tomato plants will continue to produce fruit until the first frost, although the ripening process of the tomatoes will slow down as the light levels reduce. This means that from September, tomatoes may not ripen at all and this is something to bear in mind for your recipes.
What are the different varieties of tomato?
Ripe tomatoes are incredibly versatile, but there are different variations which lend themselves to different meals more readily. Here are some examples of the sort of tomato varieties you should be investing in for different delicious reasons:
- Grape and cherry tomatoes – Perfect in salads and for bruschettas
- Red beefsteak tomatoes – Ideal in salsas and the perfect filling in a BLT
- Cocktail tomatoes – Wonderful in a full English breakfast
- Roma tomatoes – Tasty in soups
Health benefits of eating ripe tomatoes
The health benefits of ripe tomatoes are yet another reason to add them regularly to your meals. Ripe tomatoes are brimming with vitamins, minerals and nutrients including:
- Lycopene – a powerful antioxidant with many health benefits, including sun protection, improved heart health and a lower risk of certain types of cancer.
- Potassium – helps maintain normal levels of fluid inside our cells.
- Vitamin B – releases energy from carbohydrates and fat to break down amino acids and transport oxygen and energy-containing nutrients around the body.
- Vitamin E – helps maintain healthy skin and eyes, and strengthen the body’s natural defence against illness and infection.
- Vitamin K – helps to make various proteins that are needed for blood clotting and the building of bones.
- Folate – helps the body make healthy red blood cells, and is subsequently often used to treat or prevent folate deficiency anaemia.
How to ripen tomatoes
Whether you’ve purchased unripe tomatoes from a shop, or grown your own tomatoes which still need to ripen at home, you can ripen green tomatoes indoors or outdoors with ease by following this step-by-step guide.
-How to ripen tomatoes indoors
Tomatoes can be grown inside or outside, which is all part of their appeal. Sometimes home-grown tomatoes take a little bit more encouragement to ripen, which is where this guide on how to ripen tomatoes comes in handy. There are three main ways you can easily ripen green tomatoes indoors.
- Sun ripening – Find a sunny window sill in your kitchen, placing the tomatoes stem-side down to stop them from rolling. After two to three days of basking in the sun, your green tomatoes will be ripe, red and ready to enjoy. This is a fantastic way of ripening tomatoes as you’ll be able to keep an eye on the progress of your tomatoes turning from green to red very easily, and will have delicious, ripened tomatoes ready to eat in days.
- Add to a container – A speedier way to ripen green tomatoes is to add them to a breathable container such as a plastic bag with holes in it or a cardboard box with an opening. Make sure not to overcrowd your unripe tomatoes, to avoid them turning too soft. The breathable container will trap the ethylene gas and ripen the tomatoes far more quickly. Remember to keep a close eye on the progress of your tomatoes, as leaving them in a container for too long can cause them to become overripe and inedible.
- Banana – The fastest way to ripen green tomatoes is to do the above step (adding your unripe tomatoes to a breathable container), alongside a banana. The reason this works is because bananas release the most ethylene gas of any fruit, so they’re a handy trick for the tomato ripening process.
How to ripen tomatoes outdoors
– How to ripen tomatoes outdoors
If you are fortunate enough to have outdoor space to grow tomatoes, you might want to know how to ripen your tomatoes outside. Whether you choose to adopt one or both of the methods below, you can guarantee that your tomatoes will be ripened and ready to eat in just a few days. Here is how to ripen tomatoes outdoors:
- Remove flowers from the plant – When your tomato plants are outdoors, but your tomatoes are still green, removing any flowers from the plant is a good way to help the ripening process. When removed, flowers have no chance of developing into fruit, which will help the mother plant put all of its energy into ripening existing fruit on the vine.
- Remove leaves – Removing some leaves helps to ensure that the maximum amount of light is reaching the fruits, aiding the ripening of the tomatoes.
If you have ripe tomatoes at home or growing in your garden, the mealtime possibilities are endless. Take a look at the tomato recipes below and if you’re still in need of some mealtime inspiration, you can even order a HelloFresh recipe box to take the hassle out of mealtime prep.
Cheesy Tomato, Chorizo and Mozzarella Orzo Risotto
Prawn and Tomato Risotto with Leeks, Cheese and Parsley
Tex Max Style Pork Mince Tacos
Warm Roasted Tomato and Lentil Salad