On October 7, I removed the tomato plants from the garden, after first picking all the large green fruit that was still on the vines. I wanted to see if I could ripen the tomatoes indoors, even though they were completely green. As you know, I often bring fruit in to ripen after it breaks into color outside; that way the critters don't get to it before I do. But I felt that the truly green tomatoes would just stay green indoors, though I had high hopes for them.
So I put them on the piano the way I always do, but added a ripe apple and a towel to cover them. I figured that way the majority of the ethylene gas would be trapped in there, and ripen everything faster.
Well.... it worked! We've had easily half the tomatoes ripen under this cover. They do tend to go from ripe to extremely soft very quickly, but that's no hardship, as we eat them right away.
All the ripe tomatoes you see here were as green as the ones towards the right - they've just ripened under what Tom calls "the towel of awesomeness." Not that the towel is so awesome, I mean it's pretty cute, but what's truly awesome is the ripening factory that's going on underneath it. It's worked so well, in fact, that I decided to put unripe peppers under there as well (I pulled out the plants last week) and see if it would work for them too. I'll let you know!
Mother Earth News says this ripening process will work best at temperatures between 55-70 degrees. Perfect for our autumn-chilly house. (The magazine also says that temps under 50 will likely just rot the tomatoes before they ripen.) So I plan to do this every year, and you can too! It sure makes taking out the plants less of a heartbreak, if you can continue to have tomatoes for a month or so afterwards!