The Only Way To Ripen Tomatoes Quickly, According to a Farmer

You can speed up ripening with this easy trick.

<p>Simply Recipes / Getty Images </p>

Simply Recipes / Getty Images

I’m Italian, so tomatoes have always been important in my family. My dad always grew tons of them in the backyard, but I haven’t had as much luck in the garden. Fortunately, there are tasty options at the farmers market and grocery store. Sometimes, however, I'm ready to eat a tomato, but it’s just not ready for me.

The key to ripening tomatoes that are a little underripe is smart storage, says Derek Azevedo, executive vice president of the California-based Bowles Farming Company. You want to put them in a position where they are exposed to ethylene gas, a natural ripening agent for produce that is sensitive to it.

“The best place for a tomato to ripen is obviously on the vine,” Azevedo says. “If you are buying tomatoes from the market and you feel like they could use a little maturing, you could place them in a bag or on the counter next to some bananas, apples, apricots, cantaloupes, or pears.”

The paper bag traps the ethylene the tomatoes emit and encourages them to ripen faster. Placing them near ethylene-producing produce also triggers ripening.

There’s no secret method to ripen them really, really fast. But, says Azevedo, “if you place them with a bunch of bananas you have a better shot.”

The Best Way To Store Tomatoes

Whether you’re keeping your tomatoes alone or with other produce, does it make a difference if you place them stem-side down or right-side up? “I always set them stem side down because they tend to sit better,” says Azevedo. “But it doesn't matter.”

Tomatoes are best at room temperature, but there are times that you might want to pop them into the fridge.

“Tomatoes are tropical plants and they don't like the cold. But heat can break down the pectins in the fruit, degrading the color and flavor,” says Azevedo. “If you have a tomato that you've cut into or you want to preserve for a few extra days, the refrigerator can do the trick.”

How long a ripe tomato lasts depends on the variety. “Some heirloom varieties will only store for three to five days, while some commercial paste/Roma-type varieties can last 30 days or more outdoors in the California heat!” Azevedo says.

<p>Simply Recipes / Getty Images </p>

Simply Recipes / Getty Images

The Best Way To Choose Tomatoes

Azevedo says he typically chooses produce that he’s naturally drawn to. “I trust my human DNA that has already evolved to identify the most nutritious fruits to guide me,” he says. “On a more physical level, I try to identify fruits and vegetables that have a good aroma and are heavy for their size.”

The aroma is a sign of ripeness, he points out, and the weight indicates sugar content and internal quality.

“At a farmers market, I will talk to the farmer and ask them which is the best right now (I always ask for the best right now, because all farmers have their favorite variety, but today is the day we're buying...) and always ask about what variety you are buying,” Azevedo says.

Tomatoes are high in vitamin C and the antioxidant lycopene. “Lycopene is very closely related to color,” Azevedo says. “If you're looking for tomatoes with high lycopene, pick the deepest, darkest red tomatoes you can find. Some of them have up to eight times more lycopene than the yellow versions.”

Read the original article on Simply Recipes.