3 Ways to Ripen a Tomato Without Ruining It

updated Nov 30, 2022
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Even during peak tomato season, sometimes the only ones you can find are a little too firm, and missing the deep-red glow synonymous with a perfectly ripe tomato. But just because it’s a little underripe when you purchase it doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Tomatoes are one of a handful of fruits that continue to ripen after they’ve been picked (similar to a ripe or soon-to-be ripe avocado), so a subpar one can be ripe and juicy in no time with the right care and attention.

Here are three easy ways to ripen tomatoes.

1. Find a sunny windowsill.

The most classic way to ripen tomatoes or green tomatoes is to tuck them away on the sunniest windowsill in your kitchen. Place the tomatoes stem-side down, which will keep them from rolling and makes them less likely to bruise on the hard surface. After a few days of soaking up the sun, they’ll be ripe and ready to enjoy.

2. Put them in a breathable container.

If you want to speed things up a little, grab a breathable container — such as a plastic bag with small holes cut into it, a paper bag, or a cardboard box. Place the tomatoes inside but don’t overcrowd them; they need room to breathe! This method works by trapping some of the ethylene gas that tomatoes naturally release, which in turn ripens them more quickly.

3. Reach for a banana.

The fastest way to ripen a tomato is by adding a banana to that breathable container. Bananas release the most ethylene gas of any fruit, so adding one into the mix will boost the level of ethylene in the food storage container and speed up the ripening process. If you don’t have a banana handy, an apple is a good second choice.

Do you have a favorite way to ripen tomatoes that are a little less than perfect?