Just when I thought there was nothing else to say about an abundant tomato harvest or storing tomatoes ……here’s more.
Every year I have an abundance of tomatoes in October, but this year I had hundreds and hundreds of tomatoes in October and November; many of which were green when the first freeze approached. Oddly enough, it was due to the severe drought we had. I’ll explain:
In July and August it was so hot that many things would not pollinate or set fruit. My early tomatoes gave me a July crop and then sat without producing more tomatoes —-as did my late-planted tomatoes. At one point I thought for sure this would be the first time in 32 years without tomatoes in the fall.
Then we had just a few days of relief. Temperatures dropped about 10 degrees, blossoms came, were pollinated and set wonderful fruit.
It got hot and dry again but my tomatoes looked wonderful and kept right on growing. By the time frost/freeze was expected I had probably a thousand tomatoes (total for about 30 plants), most of which were green.
I picked several hundred and shared some with a friend whose tomatoes had stopped producing some months ago. He and his wife were amazed that tomatoes picked green had such a wonderful taste to them after they ripened. They had always thought you couldn’t get that kind of taste unless it was ripened on the vine. (I think home-grown and method-of-storage is the key, rather than vine-ripened.)
My “storage” area (cooler than the house, but warmer than a garage) was filling up quickly. When I didn’t have room for any more I decided to experiment.
Here are some findings that helped me and might help you to be even more successful in having fresh tomatoes through December and possibly into January ——if not this year, then next.
- In addition to storing flat as specified in my post How to Keep Tomatoes Through December for Eating Fresh —- boxes that apples are shipped in, with their cardboard like trays, are perfect for keeping your excess tomato harvest while they ripen. It’s easy to keep an eye on the tomatoes. Just lift out each tray and set them aside while you check the rest. Unless you expect it to get below freezing in the storage area, keep the top off the box to allow for better air movement.
- I also found that I was able to keep one box of green tomatoes in our shed for about 3 weeks without having them freeze when temperatures outside went to 28 degrees. (Keep in mind our shed is not air tight and we have excellent air movement although I did not have a fan running there.) I brought them into the porch Dec.12th.
- The cooler your storage temperatures the longer the time in ripening. The tomatoes in the shed barely started to ripen. Now that I have them in a porch that ranges from 55 to 65, they will begin to ripen more quickly. (If temperatures go higher you could have more rot than ripen. If temperatures go lower ripening slows down drastically and some may not ripen at all.)
One Last Thing:
- If you are a regular reader and/or a tomato fan you already know that tomatoes cannot be stored in a refrigerator and keep their wonderful flavor. You can however store them in a room that would be the same temperature (I estimate the shed to have been between 35 and 45 degrees) and they will not loose their flavor. There seems to be something about open air circulation that makes all the difference.
If you have not already done so you might want to read my post on How to Keep Tomatoes Through December for Eating Fresh for more necessary details.
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