How ripe do you let them get before you pick'em:
For best flavor?
For maximum productivity(if different answer
I generally leave mine on the plant until they are ripe. They can be picked anytime after they blush. A lot of people say that once they start to turn there isn't a perceivable taste difference from fully ripe.
Why not give it a try and let us know what you think?
I tend to leave them on the plant until the burger is on the grill... ;-)
Call it just in my head if you want to, and until you have picked a fully vine ripened one right off the vine and taken a bite out of it in the garden, but I like mine ripened on the vine. Now, if them dadgummed Mockingbirds start pecking them, I will pick them earlier and let them ripen inside until the birds have shifted their focus. They still taste fine.
The price is still ludicrous and the quality inferior on those on the shelf at the store.
Well, hopefully you'll grow enough of them to figure that out by trial and error, eh? If you leave them on too long, they get tasty but mushy. That might be a matter of preference. If you pick them too early, they are watery and unsweet. I just wait until they look ripe enough and get a little squishy.
With cherry tomatoes, I have found that the best thing to do is give them a little twist. If they come off right in your hand, they are ready. If they give you any guff, they are still ripening. Don't pluck or yank them off, because that can make them develop splits.
Last summer, I had loads of tomatoes on the vine that were taking forever to fully ripen. A landscaper/gardener told me to take the tomatoes off the plant as soon as they turn pink so the plant can put its energy into making more tomatoes.
I did that all summer. The ones I picked I put on the kitchen counter (out of the sun) until they were fully ripened and they tasted great! I had more tomatoes than I've ever had. I still have about 7 quarts of spaghetti sauce in the freezer from those tomatoes.
For maximum yield, I pick large size tomatoes a few days before fully ripe. Every additional day increases the risk from birds and bugs! Cherries are picked when ripe and oftem consumed in the garden.
Yes there are cherry trees all over here and it is always a race to get to them before the starlings do.
Dose the twisting work on large tomatos? i have green,pink black purple and other colors for the first time this year,and would like any help on telling when they are ripe. thanks dale
Dale, There is more variation in varieties so I'd answer NO ; some heirloom types almost need to be pried from the stem and it may be preferrable to pick those types less ripe rather than have the ripe tomato squash in your hand before it will release from the stem.
I am fairly confident that many of my customers can tell the difference between a vine ripened tomato and one that is picked early and allowed to develop its color off the vine. For that reason I try to pick as close to ripe as possible. I'll agree that risks go up as that tomato hangs on the plant but you need to evaluate priorities.
For different varieties you should soon be able to tell when they are ready. It may take a little trial and taste but you soon learn. I know a few years ago I was picking Green Zebras when they first got a yellow stripe and they tasted horrible. Later a few hidden in the foliage ripened to the golden stripe stage and they were much better tasting. I let a few Anannas Noir fruits go too far that they tasted winey.
If you are concerned about the burden of the ripening fruit on the plant then why not selectively harvest green tomatoes. I cull a few bushels of green tomatoes from my plants each week once the picking season begins. Doing so allows me to thin heavy clusters and odd shaped tomatoes before their blemishes become pronounced and still obtain a profit from the fruit.
I've already picked off numerous developing tomatoes this spring that might be better circus entries. Catfacing is fairly obvious at the earliest stages of the green fruit development. If you want to spare the plant of wasting resources cull those odd fruits early.
I have a rule I follow. pick it when it's first pink. If I don't, I will lose it to: Bugs, birds, Squirrels, a huge Texas rain soak that makes them split or rot