Green Zebra - how to tell when ripe?

lane5(7)June 26, 2008

Anyone have good advice on how to tell if Green Zebra tomatoes are ripe? I've never grown this variety before. I have 4 plants in homemade earthboxes and one tomato has had the green striping now for a few weeks. It doesn't seem to be getting much bigger (mabye 50% larger than a golf ball) and I'm curious if it is ready to harvest.

Having only grown red/pink tomatoes, I usually know when it's fine to pick and eat. No idea on greens...

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I've read that you have to go by feel. When it gives a little like a ripe red tomato then it should be ready to pick.

I've got a huge Green Zebra going, about 7 feet tall, but I can only see 4 fruits developing. All with the tell tale green striping.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 1:21PM
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wvtomatoman(z6 WV)

When the light green stripes turn yellow, or better yet by feel.

Good luck.


    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 1:33PM
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spiced_ham(z5 OH)

You get a change from green to green with yellow to more yellow, and the flavor changes as it happens. You may find that you prefer the flavor and texture of greener vs. yellower fruits. You'll see a range of ripeness/colors on a single truss because not all the fruits set on the same day. For this reason I think its really easy to pick the flavor stage you prefer.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 3:41PM
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jannie(z7 LI NY)

Gosh, I'm growing Green Zebra right now and I never thought of this. I guess if my other tomato fruits are getting red, then I'll have to assume GZ is ripe, too.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 5:05PM
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The yellow stripes will actually start to blush pink from the bottom up when it's fully ripe. You can eat before they blush (many people do) but they will be sweeter, yet still tart when the blush happens.

I mention this, because I believe many people eat them before they're ripe and this is part of the reason people run so very hot and cold on this tomato. The other part of the reason is that it is very distinct in flavor somewhat tart and citrusy, and that's just not for everybody.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 8:01PM
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sunnyk(Z6 SW Coastal CT)

Wow, that is odd. I never saw my Green Zebras blush pink at all ...and I left a lot of them on the vine at the end of the season and their lighter colored stripes turned more and more amber in color , until they finally fell off the vines and turned to mush. They were really prolific for us...couldn't keep up with them near the end LOL!They sure were sweet and tasty though!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 9:05PM
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I think that it is a personal preference when you might consider green zebras "ripe". I personally like them when they are still green and firm. Pick a green one and see if you like it!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 9:57PM
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suze9(z8b Bastrop Co., TX)

I would also recommend going by feel. GZ may or may not color up for you quite like it has for others, depending on your growing conditions.

Personally, I've never gotten a pink blush with it, nor have I gotten the extreme (and very pretty) contrast in the striping that is possible. I basically just get a tomato with med to light green stripes. When very ripe, the lighter stripes will finally start to turn yellow for me, but at that stage, I find the texture to be mushy and the taste to be bland. Your preferences may differ.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 10:46PM
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tomakers(SE MA Zone 5/6 or ?)

I think you have to go by feel. Mine turned slightly yellow in the stripes, but I found the softer they felt the better I liked them. I managed to eat almost all the production of 1 plant singlehandedly last year, so I planted 2 this year. Mine were quite late for some reason, but when they came I found I was eating mostly GZ to the exclusion of all except Earl's Faux.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2008 at 2:50AM
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mine didn't show any pink in the stripes, either.

i picked when the stripes started to show yellow and the tomatoes started to soften a bit.

they kept well on the plant. those that i didn't see turning right away because they were on the interior of the plant were still good when i got to them.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2008 at 7:38AM
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If you like the tartness of Green Zebra, harvest by touch when the fruit first feels like a ripe tomato.

If you want a sweeter flavor with more fruity overtones, wait until the amber stripes color up.

Same goes for Lime Green Salad ... except maybe "amber smudge" is more applicable than "stripes."

Problem with waiting for the amber color is then the fruit adds a weird aftertaste to certain salads ... particular ones with tuna as an ingredient, IMO.

Slightly underripe, Green Zebra is fantastic on a crab cake sandwich!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2008 at 11:47AM
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sunnyk(Z6 SW Coastal CT)

Thanks for the heads up on the Crab Cake Sandwich/underripe GZ idea I can not wait for ripe tomato time to get here LOL!!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2008 at 7:55PM
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