Are your tomatoes refusing to budge? Staying green till the end of days? There is one little trick you can do to get them to turn a delicious red. Throw a banana in.
It might sound bananas, but it works, and there is science to back it up.
Ripening With A Banana
Before we get to the science, let me show you the magic in action.
With the severe lack of sun we have been having this summer, my tomatoes are steadfastly staying green.
They have been at this stage for months now, so I decided to do something about it.
And in just a few days, they have started turning.
*This is a yellow variety, so they are turning yellow, not red, but the result is the same.
Bananas and tomatoes generate a natural gas called ethylene as they ripen. This gaseous plant hormone triggers the ripening process in many different fruits.
As bananas produce a larger amount of ethylene than tomatoes, they can speed up the ripening of tomatoes when stored together.
When you place a banana near a tomato, the ethylene released by the banana stimulates the ripening process in the tomato.
This acceleration occurs because ethylene binds to specific receptors in the fruit, initiating a series of chemical processes that lead to the maturation and softening of the fruit’s tissues.
Apart from bananas, other fruits like apples, kiwi fruit, pears, and figs also release ethylene gas and can have a similar effect on tomatoes. It is essential to store these fruits separately if you don’t want to quicken the ripening process of tomatoes or other fruits.
Ripening tomatoes using bananas is a practical method, especially when dealing with large numbers of green tomatoes at the end of the season or when you want to enjoy them at their peak.
It is also an excellent alternative to other ripening techniques, such as placing tomatoes on a sunny windowsill.
Benefits and Drawbacks
- Quicker Ripening: If you have green tomatoes and want them to ripen faster, placing them near bananas can help accelerate the process.
- Convenience: Using bananas is a simple method, as you don’t require any special tools or equipment other than a banana and a container to store the tomatoes.
- Altered Taste: The ethylene released by bananas can affect the taste of the tomatoes. As ethylene speeds up the ripening process, it may also cause the tomatoes to lose some of their natural flavour. However, this may not necessarily be a negative change for all consumers, as some may prefer the altered taste.
- Uneven Ripening: Since bananas release ethylene gas unevenly, the ripening effect on tomatoes may differ, resulting in some tomatoes ripening faster than others in the same batch. This may lead to inconsistencies in the taste and texture of your tomatoes.
- Risk of Over-ripening: When tomatoes are exposed to an excess of ethylene gas, they may ripen too quickly and become over-ripe or even rotten. It’s essential to monitor your tomatoes closely while using bananas to ripen them.
Remove The Banana As Soon As They Start To Turn
As soon as the tomatoes start to turn, as they are in the photos above then I will remove the banana.
I don’t want to fully ripen them this way as it can change the flavour, instead I just want to kick-start them.
This is because tomatoes produce more and more ethylene themselves as they ripen.
So once a few fruit on your plant turn the rest will start to follow, completely naturally.