How to ripen tomatoes in summer heat, sticky pollen

Q: I have seven tomatoes one my one lone vine. They all have turned light orange on the bottom but haven’t gone ahead and ripened for several days. What can I do to make them ripen during a heat wave?

A: You can cool them off!

When I was a kid we’d push and shove to be in front of our one box fan. It was the coolest place in our house! Nobody wanted to be out doors when it was 95 degrees in the shade!

Tomatoes are the same. Their mind is set on being cool before they can think of ripening. And if a tomato is orange or pink on the bottom, they will ripen normally on your kitchen counter.

So pick those tomatoes and bring them indoors.

In a few days get some Duke’s mayonnaise, two slices of whits bread, and a sharp knife so you can make yourself a righteous tomato sandwich.


When a tomato reaches a full size and the fruit becomes a pale green, it begins the ripening process which is regulated by an internal gas produced within the fruit called ethylene. Soon the tomato reaches a stage when it starts showing pink on the blossom end (called the ‘breaker stage’). At this stage the tomato can be harvested and ripened off the vine with no loss of flavor, quality or nutrition.

Red pigments in tomatoes don’t form above 95°F so tomatoes ripened in extreme heat will have a orange-red color. Tomatoes held at cooler temperatures will ripen slower. You can speed up or slow down the ripening process by raising the temperature (to an optimum of 85°F) or lowering the temperature (to a minimum of 50°F). Tomatoes develop their optimum flavor, nutrition, and color when the tomato is in the full red ripe stage but this doesn’t have to occur on the plant!

Tomato Ripening Stages<


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