When To Pick Tomatoes

Choosing when to pick tomatoes depends mostly on the tomato type and what you wish to do with them. Here are some tips on harvesting just right to get the juiciest, tastiest harvest possible:

Pick When Firm

While you want your tomatoes to ripen on the vine for the fullest flavor, it’s also important to pick them when they are still firm. This way your plant can divert its energy to the other tomatoes and your whole crop will benefit. So find a balance, and pick your tomatoes just before they reach full ripeness and color. They can finish the last moments of ripening at room temperature.

Once they’ve reached their full color you can eat them right there and then, or store them in the fridge.

When It’s Time – Do It!

Even knowing the right moment to pick your tomatoes, it can be tough going for it and removing them from their plant after such a long time of caring and watching your babies grow.

But don’t allow your tomatoes to over-ripen. The scents they emit will attract all the birds and pests in the garden. Pick them when they reach their full color, perhaps slightly before, and make sure they feel firm in your hand before picking them.

How Your Tomatoes Should Look

Most tomato types are just right for picking when their texture is glossy and even and they are firm to the touch but not too firm. Just before their color has fully bloomed. Keep an eye on the tomato bottoms as the top often colors later, by which point the tomato can be over-ripe and prone to split or lose its best moment of flavor.

When To Pick Tomatoes Early

For all varieties if the climate turns too cold – below 60 degrees Fahrenheit – it’s unlikely your tomatoes will fully ripen on the vine, so you can pick them early here too. Any amount of frost can kill tomatoes, so if you see it or know a big freeze is coming, harvest them all early and save the crop. You’ll just have to time the crop better next year.

When you’re expecting a frost you can cut off the top of the plant to divert energy to the existing tomatoes and help to speed things up a little. Tarpaulins and sheets can help your plants survive light frosts, but don’t risk it with a heavy one.

Storing Your Tomatoes

For ripening and general storage, room temperature is best. Make sure you keep them out of direct sunlight, which can cause them to over-ripen too quickly. When any of your tomatoes over-ripen it’s time to store them in the fridge.

You can slow down the ripening of your tomatoes by keeping them in cooler locations. And always store them so they are not touching. On the other hand if you want them to ripen faster for a quick tomato feast, you can put them all in a paper bag with an apple or banana, and keep in a warm location although still out of direct sunlight.

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