How to ripen green tomatoes with a banana

They look good, don't they? But just days ago, these tomatoes were green. I ripened them by sticking them in a brown paper bag with a banana.

G. and I always end up with a lot of green tomatoes in the fall because the weather turns cold before they have a chance to ripen on the vine. This would be less of a problem if we grew earlier varieties of tomatoes, but of course, we don’t.

I can’t complain: I got well over 100 pounds of ripe tomatoes that I’ve turned into salsa, pasta sauce, pizza sauce, enchilada sauce, curry and soup. But I hate to see the green tomatoes go to waste.

Commercial growers intentionally pick their tomatoes green because they’ll handle shipping better. Then, they gas them to turn them red once they’ve arrived close to their shipping destination. If this practice distresses you and you want to know more about it, check out Arthur Allen’s book about tomatoes.

The tomatoes and banana before they went into the bag.

G. read about a way to do this naturally, without buying ethylene. All you do is take a few green tomatoes, put them in a brown paper bag with an unripe banana and seal the bag. The banana will release ethylene as it ripens, turning them red. In a few days, you’ll have tomatoes that look ripe and a blackened banana you can bake into bread or muffins.

One word of warning: The gas turns the tomatoes red, but it doesn’t do anything to improve their flavor. Ours tasted bland and watery. But, they were good enough to use in curry and in chicken paprikash. Certainly, it’s better than wasting food by throwing it out, unused.


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