Tomatoes as good ripened off the vine as on?

diclemeg(7a)July 29, 2010

Been having lots of tomatoes crack and then get attacked by bugs, and I stumbled upon this article...

http://www.smallkitchengarden.net/small-kitchen-garden/the-vine-ripened-tomato-lie

I've picked several tomatoes that just blushed and are letting them ripen inside. They seem to be ripening quite well.

Are these tomatoes ripening off the vine gonna be as good as those ripened on the vine? Should I be doing this?

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ashley9597

This is my first year with tomato plants and here is what I have learned from the wonderful tomato people on this forum: Pick your tomatoes when they start to blush and let them ripen inside. They will taste just as good as if vine ripened but you will avoid the temptation of "sharing" your harvest with mother nature. I recently read on a post that the cracking is from a flux of water coming into the tomato so you should harvest before watering the plant. Maybe try that and see if your cracking stops. I am assuming that your cracked tomatoes are rather red by the time the bugs steal it from you? So if you harvest at first blush, or close there after, that may prevent your cracking. I have not had any cracking and I have not had to share my harvest, except for with my loving husband :-) Good luck with the rest of the season.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 10:25AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

I always pick when they start to blush. They still taste wonderful. I have been pushing this back, a little redder, this year because I haven't had time to pick earlier.

Also if you pick when they are blushing, if you can't pick one day then you won't have a rotting tomato on the vine.

Jay

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 10:46AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Are these tomatoes ripening off the vine gonna be as good as those ripened on the vine?

They will be even better because they won't be diluted by recent rains or watering or cracked, or bug bit, etc.

At blush, or "break stage" the fruit is done. It gets nothing else from the vine except water. Lots of discussions here on pick at blush if you want to read through them.

Dave

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 10:51AM
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diclemeg(7a)

thanks everyone..
i think the 64,000 question is whether there truly is a difference in flavor between first-blush-picked-ripened-inside vs fully-ripened-on-the-vine. the little info ive read is that many swear that the vine is better, but im hoping no.

dave,
thats why i asked, for i couldnt find the discussions. the search tool doesnt work well.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 12:28PM
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susan2010(6 Massachusetts)

I'm not entirely convinced. A Sungold cherry tomato ripened on the vine to deep orange tastes better to me than one picked yellower and let ripen inside. Of course, I may be imagining things. BUT, if the choice is between letting a tomato stay on too long and get damaged/split/chewed and taking it off early and having that tomato, I know what I'd pick (pun intended). And I do routinely pick blushing fruit if there's going to be a hard rain to avoid getting split fruit.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 12:29PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

I am wondering about what is considered blush. How much pink should I see. I have read this before and I am picking my tomatoes early. A picture would be wonderful because I want to get it right. My garden is a dangerous place - stink bugs and hot hot sun.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 12:33PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

My rule of thumb is that I let them stay on the vine until the forecast is rain, then I pick all the red ones to avoid cracking. Also if I'm in a hurry to get more ripe ones like late or early in the season, I'll relieve the plants of blushing ones. They taste great ripening inside and look better also.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 1:18PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Search engine all depends on the terms you use, but no just scanning the titles it pulls up won't help much since most people never title their post in any relevant manner.

For example one of the most relevant discussions is named "Is it true that...". However the forum-specific search will pull up any discussions about tomato 'break' or tomato 'blush' or 'blush and break' when those terms are used in the discussion if you want to read them.

Meanwhile the link below from one of them provides pictures of the various break stages for picking. One of the other discussions has links to research showing how the fruit is sealed off from the vine by a membrane once break occurs so further benefits from the plant are reduced or even blocked.

As with all things, when to pick is the gardeners choice but I'd be willing to bet that a blindfolded gardener wouldn't be able to distinguish between one left on the vine and a blush one ripened indoors. ;) It is done at taste test festivals all the time and most of the time it is the indoor fruit that is selected as the winner.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: Tomato Break Stages Photos

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 2:59PM
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diclemeg(7a)

thanks dave. i found and read that discussion entitled 'is it true that...' though i could not find that other referred discussion regarding the fruit being sealed off by membrance once break occurs, so i will take your word for it, unless someone wants to post the link. thanks everyone.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 4:28PM
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col_sprg_maters(Front Range 5)

Soo, at what date range on the attached link would be an appropriate time to pluck the tomato?

(trying some timeline engineerinng for fall frost in foothills of Colorado)

thanks

Here is a link that might be useful: tomato time to ripen

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 6:36PM
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msgenie516(z7 NY)

Hi,

I'm no expert but I've been growing tomatoes for years and I always try to pick them when they have blushed up from the bottom to a little past half way. I find they ripen very quickly in the house and taste just fine. If I leave them on the vine to ripen completely, it seems something usually gets to them--bugs, birds, etc.

Good luck with your tomatoes! Genie

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 11:36PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Soo, at what date range on the attached link would be an appropriate time to pluck the tomato?

Probably Day 50 which they don't show. Day 52 is well past break. Plus they are showing the top of the fruit and break starts from the bottom of the fruit. Check the pics in the link I posted above - Break or Turning.

Dave

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 11:43PM
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catman529(6b)

Dave - "It gets nothing else from the vine except water" - remember that water is the universal solvent, there could be nutrients and other compounds dissolved in the water that could possibly affect the flavor...yes if it rains it will dilute the flavor, but it's possible that a completely vine-ripened tomato might be just a little better than one picked at first blush (assuming bugs and cracks haven't got to it)

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 12:59AM
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tomatojoa

I pick my outside tomatoes as soon as they blush so I don't have to share with the squirrels. The toms in my greenhouse, I let ripen until they are ready to eat. And, yes, my data shows that they are much better if you can let them ripen completely on the vine.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 2:01AM
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diclemeg(7a)

tomatojoa...im beginning to side with you, for i just ate an indoor ripened tomato and it was quite bland.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 10:48AM
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oregonwoodsmoke(5 OR Sunset 1A)

The big taste difference is variety. A really flavorful variety will taste good ripened indoors.

A bland variety isn't going to taste good, no matter what you do to it.

All things equal, I prefer vine ripened. But I do a lot of ripening indoors because I pick tomatoes and bring them indoors when it starts freezing outdoors.

I also pull up the entire plant and bring it inside. I can get some really green tomatoes to ripen if they are left on the plant.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 1:14PM
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plantslayer(8)

I keep trying to sell my wife on the idea that a tomato picked at first blush is as good as one that ripened completely on the vine. Our vegetable patch is in an urban community garden, so having red fruit hanging on the plant likely attracts pests of the two-legged variety. I thought about giving her a blind taste test or something, but she's already annoyed at me for picking them early in the first place, so...

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 1:52PM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

And, yes, my data shows that they are much better if you can let them ripen completely on the vine.

What DATA is that? My taste buds tell me there's no difference.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 3:56PM
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mrtudball(Z5 Nebraska)

I used to be on the side, let it ripen on the vine. But last year we did a taste test, grabbed one blushing and on the same plant let one that was blushing get ripe on the plant. They both tasted great, did it again on another plant, and this time the inside one came out way ahead do to rain the night before on the vine ripened one. So I am a convert on the pick when blushing, saves me the loss of the cracked tomaotes

Everyone needs to decide for themselves tho, but if you just test two from the same plant, so all things are equal, you will have your answer.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 5:26PM
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sprtsguy76(Santa Clara Ca. 9b)

I personally like to leave it on the vine up until ripen perfection! But I do understand why others need to pick at first blush.
Branywine Sudduth

Damon

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 8:32PM
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spiced_ham(z5 OH)

This study is pretty conclusive that tasters could tell the difference even between pink picked and table ripe picked fruit. However, the room ripened tomatoes were held at 20C/68F, which was probably much cooler than the field ripened fruit so it doesn't tell me if the difference was because of attachment to the plant or not. I know that when my garden ripend fruit develop during cold weather the flavor is off.

http://postharvest.ucdavis.edu/datastorefiles/234-526.pdf

Are pink picked fruit good enough to enjoy 100%? Yes Would some fruit picked table ripe off the plants taste slightly better? Probably. Would they all? probably not.

Is the difference enough to gamble on losing fruit and taking the extra effort to hunt through the plants looking for eating ripe fruit? Not for me.

I don't pick at blush stage because I don't have room for all of the fruit to sit around. They stay crack resistant until pretty far into the pink stage, so everything close to being ripe gets picked every three days or so.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2010 at 11:22AM
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johnny_tomato_seed

I think everyone is somewhat in agreement here. Remember, the original question is, "Are these tomatoes ripening off the vine gonna be as good as those ripened on the vine?"

The flavor of vine rippen tomato gets worse ONLY if there is a big rain. Take the bugs, temperature, water out of the equation and everything being equal, about half the people would say vine rippen taste better than indoor rippen. For me, having them indoor is too much of a temptation to cut into them early.

On a side note, supermarket heirloom tomatoes tastes a little off. I wonder if those farmers pick when they first blush or even when they are still green. Maybe they don't fertilize enough ???

    Bookmark   July 31, 2010 at 12:45PM
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gardningscomplicated(southeast michigan - 5b or 6?)

The best tomato I ever had was ripened completely on the vine. Then I let it ripen a few more days on my kitchen table before I ate it. It was incredible.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 3:23AM
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gardningscomplicated(southeast michigan - 5b or 6?)

diclemeg - You can type "gardenweb" plus your search terms into google, and it does a pretty good job of finding stuff here. Much better than if you use the gardenweb search.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 3:31AM
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sundrops(Z6 SW Indiana)

To do a search on Google choose the Advance Search option and put in some of the words you want to search. Then at the bottom put in Gardenweb.com on the line that says "Search within a site or domain". I just learned this the other day from another post and it makes searching much easier.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 8:39AM
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