Tomatoes are never more flavorful and precious than when they have been grown in your own garden. Store-bought tomatoes represent varieties selected for their ability to withstand rough handling and long shipping times. Your garden tomatoes will be more sensitive to damage and require special handling if you want to enjoy them at their peak. Whether you collect your fruits to save them from harsh conditions or to cut down on the number of trips you make into the garden, these tips will help you preserve the condition of your tomatoes.
Sort your tomatoes by level of ripeness and store fruits of a similar shade together in groups. Store damaged tomatoes separately and monitor them for decay. Store the tomatoes in a moderately humid environment where the temperature is between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Situate tomatoes with the stem end facing up. The meat that surrounds the stem--called the shoulder--is sensitive to pressure and can become damaged from the weight of the fruit.
Place the tomatoes out of direct sunlight. Sunlight can ripen some areas of the fruit too quickly, faster than the portion of the fruit facing away from the light. If you must store them in direct sun, turn your tomatoes once or twice daily.
Store a ripe tomato with those you want to ripen to hasten the ripening process. This will allow the ethylene gas released by the ripe tomato to influence the progress of the unripe tomatoes. Storing fruits together in a paper bag will help trap more of the gas near the fruits.
Store large numbers of green tomatoes conveniently by wrapping them in paper and placing them in a box in one or two layers. An alternative method for bringing in a crop when frost threatens involves pulling the whole plant and hanging it in a protected area, out of the weather. Spot check your tomato stores twice weekly to watch for rot, insects and other issues.