How to Save Green Tomatoes From the First Frost and Have them Turn Red

PHOTO: Green tomatoes on a garden vine, courtesy of Chris Haines
PHOTO: Green tomatoes on a garden vine, courtesy of Chris Haines

.As much as it pains me to say this, winter will soon be upon us and with falling temperatures comes the inevitable first frost. And, sadly, the inaugural frost brings with it the grim reaper of garden tomatoes.

Fortunately, our ancestors knew a thing or two about preserving and even ripening garden plants once the temperature dips below freezing — keep in mind what we do as a hobby, they did for survival!

Here’s how you can save green tomatoes and see them to maturity following the first frost:

Select the right tomatoes
On the eve of the year’s first frost, select the most mature green tomatoes on the vine and bring them inside.  According to horticulturalists, the “green becomes almost translucent as the fruit approaches maturity.”  You may also pick tomatoes that are becoming yellow or pink.

Place the tomatoes uncovered in a dry location 55-to 70-degrees Fahrenheit.

You may also ripen the entire plant
If an impending frost is certain to devastate the entire plant, you may also attempt to ripen the entire plant indoors as well.  To do this, you must pull the entire plant from the ground by the roots.  Hang the plant upside down in a dry location 55-to 70-degrees Fahrenheit (basements work great).  Remove any small tomatoes and as tomatoes reach full maturity, pick them and enjoy.

This is just another simple lifehack our grandparents used in order to squeeze another couple weeks out of fresh tomatoes!

Do you like articles like this?  If so, click here to learn more about receiving a year’s subscription of the print edition of Appalachian Magazine!

Share this knowledge with your friends on Facebook:



  1. Put them in a paper poke an roll the top down to rippen them inside the house.Do not refridgerate. Eat a bunch of fried green ones while you wait.

Comments are closed.