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Putting the Summer Garden to Bed for Winter: Harvesting Green Tomatoes

We have had a few light frosts at my house and I have a ton of green tomatoes still on my plants. Rather than risk losing them during a freeze, I harvested all of the tomatoes and put them in the cool garage to slowly ripen up and use during the winter. They don’t have the great flavor that vine ripened tomatoes do but I think their flavor is on par with of the tomatoes that I would buy in the grocery store and since I am cheap and don’t like to waste things, this works for me.

I picked all of the tomatoes individually. Some people cover their tomatoes to withstand a heavier frost or freeze and some have success pulling the entire plant out of the ground, hanging it in a cool place to let the tomatoes ripen but I don’t have that space. Today, I picked the Romas, six plants in all, then pulled the plants out. I only saved the tomatoes that were in good condition, no cracks, and if a tomato had been touched by frost, I didn’t save those.

I sorted the ripe ones out from the green ones and also sorted the ones that were “blushing,” turning a light color from the really green ones.

Putting The Garden To Bed 2

I put them in shallow bins or crates in the cool garage and will continue to go through them every few days to pick out the ripening tomatoes or if one is going bad, taking that one out.

Putting The Garden To Bed 3

Some people make Green Tomato Salsa, Jams, Relish and other goodies or just freeze those green tomatoes. I have canned or frozen all of the tomatoes that I will need for the year so I made the command decision to try and save the remaining tomatoes as they are. One key is not saving damaged tomatoes such as cracked ones with the good ones. You know what they say about 1 bad apple. . . Well, it applies to tomatoes also.

The other key is that they need to be stored in a cool place. If my garage gets too warm, they all start ripening up quickly and of course, you don’t want them to freeze. When we have had really cold spells where mine could freeze in the garage, I have wrapped them up to insulate them or brought them inside. But then, they start to ripen quicker inside your house. It is better than losing them though.

I have had great success with this process over many years and usually stretch my tomatoes until mid-spring. Just wanted to share this with you in case you have not taken advantage of harvesting your late green tomatoes before.

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