So, a big storm whips through your neighborhood one summer day, and rattles around your tomato plants. You go out to check on them afterwards and find a pile of under-ripe, VERY green tomatoes scattered all over the ground. What do you do?
My tomatoes are all in pots on my patio, and our recent storm left me with almost this exact dilemma. The difference is, there was only one lonely green tomato that had been ripped off the plant by the storm. I scooped it up and plopped it in a bowl on my kitchen counter and was left pondering a solution. I’ve yet to experiment with any green tomato recipes, although I do have a few that are enticing. So, I left for work that day thinking that now would be the time to try one out, even though that might be tough with one single tomato. Unless, I figure out a way to successfully ripen this little greeny. In past years, I’ve tried letting green tomatoes sit on the counter to see if they would ripen on their own, but they always ended up rotting.
Later that day, after the storm, I was chatting with a customer (at my day job) about my situation. I love her to death. She is in her mid 90’s and is the sweetest thing. I love to hear her talk about her childhood and the many things she has experienced in life during such a different time. It’s people like her that motivate me to keep life as simple and wholesome as I can. Anyway, she says to me, “Did you try putting the tomato in a brown paper bag?” Oh my gosh, no I didn’t try that. I had remembered hearing that somewhere once before but plumb forgot about this nifty little trick. I decided to give it a try, and now I’m going to tell you how it went!
Ethylene is the chemical released naturally by many fruits that encourage ripening. We all know how fast bananas ripen, which is why I have so darn many in my freezer. (Thank goodness for banana muffins! Check out my recipe HERE.) So, when doing my “tomato ripening in a bag” experiment, I put the ultra ethylene producing banana in the bag with my super, mega, insanely green tomato. (Adjective overload? Nah.)
This is how my tomato looked on day 1.
I put it in a brown paper lunch bag with a mostly yellow, but a tiny bit of green, banana. It took awhile to get started, but once the tomato started ripening, it turned red pretty quickly. Very similarly to how it ripens on the vine. Here is how the process turned out.
By day 8, the tomato was almost there, but not quite. My banana, on the other hand, was passed there. I wasn’t about to sacrifice a banana to save a tomato.
So, I added the banana to my freezer and added a new banana in the bag. I knew it wouldn’t take that much longer. Two more days and this is what my super green tomato looked like.
Not a speck of rotting either. The tomato felt like I had just picked it from the plant that day. So, it did take a full ten days to ripen, but the puppy was crazy hard and green on day one (Did I mention how green the tomato was? :-)) If you try this with a partially ripe tomato I’m sure it would happen pretty darn fast.
I’m extremely pleased with my experiment. No more wasted tomatoes, or panic searching for recipes that call for green tomatoes. All you need is a bag and a banana. Can’t get more simple than that.
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