Since moving to a house with a basement three years ago, I have been experimenting with hanging whole tomato vines before the frost to ripen indoors. I’ve tried this technique in varying conditions: in a cold, dark basement; in the darker corners of an unheated porch; right up in the windows of the same south-facing unheated porch. I’ve tried it with whole plants: vine, leaves, roots and all, and I’ve tried hanging clusters only. I’ve also tried it with a range of varieties: from those that are considered long-keepers, to large beefsteak types, and tiny currants and cherries. All possible variations that I can think of have been covered.
I haven’t yet hit on what works and why, but I will say that some just blacken and rot on the vine, while others do ripen well. How far along the tomatoes have come before they are brought in does play a role, but sometimes even those that look like they should ripen easily do not. Dryness is important in preventing rot. Temperature also seems to matter. Colder conditions allow some varieties to keep longer, but I also find that it can prevent ripening from occurring, and again, lead to eventual rot.
So far this year the clear winner is a prolific multiflora cherry called ‘Mirabelle Multiflora.’ I have grown this varieties three times now, but this was my first year ripening indoors in this way. It’s a great candidate because I have found each season that once it gets started, it keeps producing loads of fruit right up to the very end of the season. I have enough experience with this variety to write a more in-depth Tomatoes Worth Growing article on it. Highly recommended!
In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you on the varieties that you have had luck ripening in this manner as well as any insight you have into what makes this method work best.