Hey, while we are talking about tomatoes (how to eat all those green ones, why they didn’t produce well this year, etc.), I thought I’d talk a bit about what my wife, Karen, and I have found to still be eat ripe tomatoes in January. First, we find it important to leave the stem on green tomatoes by cutting them off with clippers when harvesting them for storage. Pulling the stem off often compromises the attachment, allowing other life forms a place to gain access and spoil the tomato earlier. Second, we spread them out on multiple sheets of newsprint in a cool place so that they do not touch each other. Sure they might ripen sooner in a warmer place, but then they are gone sooner. Plus, most of thelife forms that cause fruits to spoil multiply more quickly in warmer places, and will spread rapidly from tomato to tomato, especially if stored
in a sack. The ability to see all of the fruits at once will make it easiler to remove ripe ones to eat and bad ones to compost or discard. We have used a downstairs food(=coal) room for years, but a concrete basement floor or anyplace where the tomatoes won’t freeze will work. Your kitty will still need to control mice, or you can trap them, so that they don’t nibble a small hole in every tomato. TIP: Be careful to not touch bad tomatoes first to spread any spoiling pathogens to others.
We have found a huge difference in how quickly different varieties of tomatoes spoil. While thin-skinned Aunt Ruby’s German Green may be one of the best tasting heirlooms in their prime; they may only be in their prime for “minutes”! Generally, the thicker the skins, the longer tomatoes will last after harvest. A well known variety, Long Keeper, keeps longer than most due to its tough orange skin. The toughness of the skin is quickly forgotten, however, when you are still slicing this variety with its bright red interior in January, long after others are gone and you are faced with stuping to store-bought, greenhouse-raised, ripened-on-the-truck “plastic” fruit. This variety, and other “tough” tomatoes can be truly productive, and can hold on the vine for the entire season waiting to be stored before the first frost in the fall for consumption from late fall through winter. We have found that most paste tomatoes generally store longer than slicing varieties, and are fine for cooking well after Christmas. One of our favorite paste varieties is Argo, as it produces well, is juicier, and even tastes good uncooked. We haven’t found any true cherry tomatoes that keep well, but there are many smaller “golf ball-sized”varieties that do! In our opinion, anything is better (and cheaper) than store bought. We prefer to do without tomatoes all together after our garden grown ones run out. It makes those first ones to ripen in July all that more special.