‘Don’t remove leaves!’ Gardening expert shares how to ‘ripen’ tomatoes at ‘correct rate’

How and when is the best time to pick tomatoes

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Many British gardeners are finding that their tomatoes are still green as summer comes to a close. Tomatoes need to be picked before the first frost, otherwise they could be damaged. The good news is green tomatoes can be ripened indoors.

However, before then, gardeners still have time to allow their tomatoes to ripen on the vine.

A gardening expert for Homebase UK and head of horticulture and landscaping at Capel Manor college in London, Tom Cole, shared how to harvest tomatoes.

In a YouTube video for Homebaseuk, the expert explained that tomatoes can be ready to harvest from early summer and on throughout the season.

The expert advised to pick fruit that is “firm to the touch and slightly orange”.

They added: “They need not reach full colour as they will continue to ripen once picked.

“Early picking also reduces the opportunity for insects and disease to damage them.

“The size of your tomatoes will depend on your particular cultivar.”

The tomatoes in Tom’s hands were around two centimetres in diameter.

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They continued: “When your plant has approximately six to eight trusses, the fruits will start to grow and turn the appropriate colour which is usually a bright red but can be a pale orange or yellow for rarer varieties.”

The truss on a tomato plant is a group or cluster of smaller stems where the flowers and fruit develop.

When you think your tomatoes are ready to harvest, pick the gently with your fingers.

Most importantly, gardeners should leave the “calyx” on top of the fruit when they pick them.

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They said: “You should leave the calyx – the flower shaped leaf at the top – intact as this will help the fruit to ripen at the correct rate.

“It is important to prune your plant properly to get the fruits to mature at a correct rate for the best harvest.

“Once picked, keep out of direct sunlight to ensure even ripening place them in a cool dark place in a single layer until fully ripe.

“Refrigerate for a few hours before eating.”

If you’re looking to ripen your green tomatoes indoors then you need a paper bag and a ripe banana.

Put your green tomatoes in the bag with the banana.

Bananas release the most ethylene gas of any fruit, so it should speed up the ripening process.

If you don’t have a banana handy, an apple is also good.

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