August 2, 2011

Tomato Tuesday: Ripening Tomatoes

It's a painful waiting game. My tomato plants have been in the stage where I think it's just going to be a few more days before they turn red, and here I am two weeks later still waiting!
My rambling red stripe tomatoes.
Tomato ripening is controlled by temperature. The ideal range is between 65-75 degrees.

When ripening begins, the chlorophyll (green) begins to break down and the beta-carotene (orange) and lycopene (red) tints increase. 

I think I see some beta-carotene increasing!

Too much heat or direct sunlight can cause your tomato to not turn red. So they may turn slightly pink, but are squishy when you cut them open.

Lack of sun (or heat is the main issue) will keep your tomatoes green.

My solution for you? Aluminum foil. 

If it is consistently above 75-80 degrees where you live, try placing some aluminum foil over the top of the fruit to reflect the heat off of the tomato.

If the temperature in your area is cooler, place aluminum foil under the fruit to reflect the heat up.
This is just one plant! There are tomatoes growing underneath that I'm concerned aren't receiving enough heat. I have placed foil underneath them to reflect the heat from the sun. 

A common misconception is that sun is what ripens tomatoes, when heat is actually the most important factor. 

I want to wish my Grandma a very happy 87th birthday today!
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