How ripe should tomatoes be when they’re picked from the vine?

Some of your tomatoes are probably beginning to change color by now. Maybe you have some that seem to be ready to harvest. So how do you tell when it’s time to pick your tomatoes? You can’t just rely on the colour of your tomatoes to know when they’re ready to harvest because many need a couple of days after their final colour to complete the ripening process.

when to pick tomatoes mother nature

How Do You Know When to Pick Your Tomatoes?

A few basic clues can assist you determine whether it is OK to harvest your tomatoes. Unless you’re intending to make fried green tomatoes, which are quite excellent and absolutely worth a try, you should harvest the fruit when it’s ripe, or about ripe. To prevent the skins separating, harvest your tomatoes a bit before they’re totally ripe if you want to preserve them. So how can you tell when they’re ready?

  1. Ripe tomatoes have reached their full rich color, with no green spots remaining. Green areas mean they’re not quite ripe yet.
  2. Ripe tomatoes should readily come off the vine. Ideally, you should be able to pick them with one hand, cup the fruit in your palm and give a gentle twist, and it should pop right off the vine. They’re not nearly ripe if you require two hands to separate the stem from the fruit.
  3. A ripe tomato won’t be too firm or too squishy; they will feel supple, slightly soft, but not too soft. It should feel similar to a ripe peach or nectarine, just a little bit firmer. It’s not ripe if it still feels firm like an apple. If you gently press the fruit and it has some give to it, it should be ready to harvest.
  4. Ripe tomatoes are glossy and lustrous. Before they are fully ripe, they will usually have a slightly duller or powdery appearance.

when to pick tomatoes mother nature

How to Avoid Splitting Tomato Skins

Splitting skins are one of the most typical issues individuals have while waiting for their tomatoes to mature. They may split at any stage of development, whether green or mature. In many situations, tomatoes break their skins due to inconsistency in watering.

Tomato plants are quite thirsty. They need at least 1 inch of water every week, as well as lots of fertilizers. Once they start growing fruit, they use up even more water to create those lush tasty toms. Ensure that your tomatoes are consistently watered when the fruit is maturing. A layer of mulch will also assist maintain moisture in the soil, resulting in reduced water and heat stress.

when to pick tomatoes mother nature

Tomatoes grown outdoors are more likely to split. When they are subjected to dry conditions, the flesh may develop quicker than the skin, causing it to become very tight. Water-stressed tomatoes sometimes crack their skins after a heavy thunderstorm, which is not unusual around Powell River. So if your tomatoes are nearly ripe and rain is in the forecast, it may be best to pick them and let them finish the ripening process indoors. Tomatoes grown in a greenhouse or inside may also split.

Don’t be disheartened if you realize that your tomatoes have split. They are still functional. Pick split tomatoes as soon as possible and inspect them for bugs nibbling or tunneling into them. You may still eat them if no one else is chewing on them. Use them soon since they won’t last as long as other tomatoes. If you catch split tomatoes quickly, they can still be sliced or eaten fresh. They’re probably best for cooking if they’ve been split for a day or two. Even if they’ve been nibbled on, you can still save the seeds from them for next year if you like the variety.

Enjoy your harvest, and do share photos with us—we love to see them!

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