How do you know when its time to harvest tomatoes?

skipphin(Chicago z5)July 17, 2007

Hi, I'm new to this forum and saw some related posts in my search, but not exactly the info I'm seeking. I have several different types of tomatoes planted and would like some info on how you all determine when to pick them. My Sun Golds appear to be ripe, very orange-y (more so than 'gold', I'd say)and practically fall off the vine when I pick them, but the insides are still filled with greenish seeds/slime. If I leave them on the vine longer, they split. Should I just pick them and leave them on the counter for a couple of days?

Also, I have black cherries, Costoluto Genovese, German Pink, Mexico, and an Aunt Ginny's Purple. If you have any tips for those, I'd appreciate it. THANKS!

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Sungold or Sun Gold is one of my fav ever cherry types. Rather dark orange is when to pick them, but you just can't go wrong even if pick not fully ripe. Splitting is usually too much rain or too much watering at one time. Not always. Some varieties split more easily than others and the trick is to pick them in the afternoon after some hours of sun beating on them rather than early in the morning.

Larger types you should go first by color (assuming you know what ripe color is) and then if you poke the tomato with your finger it will give a little rather than be hard.

Timely post. I was just about to go pick a mess of Sungolds for the dehydrator.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2007 at 3:03PM
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dgkritch(Z8 OR)

Also check out the Tomato Forum. I think those guys know everything there is to know about tomatoes!! (smile).

    Bookmark   July 17, 2007 at 6:25PM
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zabby17(z5/6 Ontario)


I second what John said.

Though you need to get to know the variety to go 100% by colour. Some red kinds still have greenish shoulders when they are ripe, for example. Others will be completely red (or whatever colour) when ready to eat.

Sungolds may have a bit of green inside even when ripe --- I can't remember (mine'll be a couple of weeks yet, WAH!). A tomato's colour depends on its skin's colour, how translucent the skin is, and the interior colour; often there are greenish seeds inside. If they're bright orange, then they're ripe or nearly so.

But the main thing is the texture. As John says, there should be a little "give" when you poke them, but if it's totally soft, then it's overripe.

The other criterion is TASTE! Try 'em and see. There are individual preferences --- some people like some tomatoes more on the just ripening side, some like 'em nice and ripe.

Of the ones you list, other than Sungold, I have grown Black Cherry (one of my real faves --- a very complex, deep taste, like a much bigger tomato; a good contrast to the ultra-sweet Sungold, which I also love!) and Aunt Ginny's Purple.

The former is a deep purple when ripe. It's a large cherry, and fairly resistant to splitting (unlike Sungold), so you can usually safely leave it on the vine even after it's ripe for a bit if you aren't sure or don't need it yet. I like to make a funky-looking salad with this guy and Snow White Cherry (which is really a very pale ivory yellow). Black Cherry is also a great candidate for drying.

Aunt Ginny's Purple is really pink when ripe. It's a nice, tasty, mid-sized tomato.

(The code for tomato names seems to be that "black" equals dark purple, "purple" equals pink, and often, as you say, "gold" equals orange. I'm happy to say that most tomatoes with "red" in the name are, in fact, red. ;-) )

Enjoy your tomato harvest! Sounds like you have a lovely collection of varieties.

If you want some help knowing what the others will look like exactly when ripe, ask on the tomato forum --- there are folks there who have grown EVERYTHING! But if you go by the feel you'll get it about right, and soon learn what you like best.



    Bookmark   July 17, 2007 at 6:29PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Some tomatoes skin color might be right, but seeds inside may be green, which is normal. If you slice into them and you see lots of loose liquid, they should be ripe. Green, unripe tomatoes usually are quite firm and dry inside. I grew a white grape tomato and these had a very light yellow inside. The yellow grape tomatoes had an orange inside. If they come off the plant very easily, they are probably ripe. If you pick a bunch and taste one, then find its not quite ripe, just leave them in an open paper bag to ripen more for a few days, and they should be fine.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2007 at 8:00PM
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susandonb(NC 7)

Mine call to me, "I'm ready, eat me, eat me!!! LOL

Sorry, just felt silly for a minute.

Susan in NC

    Bookmark   July 17, 2007 at 9:36PM
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skipphin(Chicago z5)

Thanks for all the tips! I brought a mess of sungolds for lunch today, so I hope they're ripe, 'cause I'll be ready for 'em!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 9:34AM
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