Cherokee Green, ripeness is critical

californianJuly 29, 2011

I grew Cherokee Green for the first time this year. Being a green when ripe tomato, the only way to tell if it is ripe is by the squeeze test. Picked at just the right ripeness it is delicious, one of my family's new favorites. But it has one flaw that one of my tomato buying customers pointed out to me, if you let it sit around for a few days and get over ripe the tomato liquifies into pure pulp, you can't even slice it without it collapsing into a puddle. But I will grow it again anyway.

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mewhee

Wouldn't it be great if someone could come up w/ a green tomato tester which lets you know when one is ready for the table other than the squeeze test. My Green Zebra, Aunt Ruby's German Green, et al have always been a guessing game as to ripeness leaving a relatively short window for consumption.

On the plus side, they, along w/ their orange, yellow and bicolor brethren sure do make a good looking colorful salad, especially interesting to the taster who's never eaten anything other than a commercial red ;-)

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 12:46PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Most green when ripe varieties develop an amber blush, which is the first trait to look for and to be honest, I've never had to squeeze any of them to test for ripeness.

Those varieties that have an amber blush have a yellow epidermis, but there are also some GW ripe varieties that have a clear epidermis, so they appear green all the time. Examples of these might include Green Giant, and the cherries, Green Doctors Frosted, Verde Claro, and a few more.

There's nothing wrong with pulling up Google IMAGES and taking a look, but before I'd do that I think I'd go to Tania's data base website and look at the pictures there.

Green when ripe varieties are perhaps one of my best types that I like, along with the heart varieties, so I've grown one heck of a lot of both kinds.

Ah, I almost forgot to say that there are those who grow the yellow epidermis ones in the south ( translate high temps, which can also occur elsewhere, obviously) who sometimes never see that amber blush. They can and have sent the exact same seeds to some of us here in the north and they do give an amber blush here.

Carolyn, who grew Cherokee Green ASAP after Craig, her best tomato friend, got seeds back from someone, actually Cherokee Chocolate seeds and Craig found Cherokee Green out of those seeds,and that was in 1997.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 2:18PM
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mulio

If a green fleshed tomato has yellow skin, like Cherokee Green has, then it will turn yellowish when ready. Under some environmental conditions (and seed sources) it may also get a blush of red at the blossom end.

Green fleshed with clear skin tomatoes, like Green Giant, are more difficult to tell. There are very subtle signs such a slight whitish blush and "grey" areas but I doubt most would be able to discern it without comparing it repeatedly. Since one can "see through" the skin easier on clear skin varieties there are also signs of flesh changes just under the skin - it is something that has depth to it and I think would escape most people until, like the whitish cast, they are shown what to look for and see it repeatedly. It is not something that i have been able to catch with a camera.

On clear skinned ones best for most to squeeze them - if it isnt ready, the area squeezed will eventually turn into an aforementioned grey regions when ripe. When the yellow skinned ones turn yellowish, they are ready.

I have several clear skin green lines developed so I have had several years experience looking in detail at them. My thinking is they wouldn't make good lines for releasing because of the tricky ripened cues. Most people would probably pick them at the wrong time (too early or too ripe) and judge them to be poor flavored.

It is worth learning on a line like "Green Giant".

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 4:53PM
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mulio

There is a research paper that shows what happens to the first few cells of flesh just under the skin. The cells closet to the skin and exposed to light can get a slightly different color to them compared to the deeper flesh cells color. This is also the where the anthocyanin or the "blue" is produced in those kinds of fruit.

When temps are higher and prolonged the pigmentation and biochemical processes are inhibited (alters color and flavor components).

The paper was about flavor components which are concentrated in this critical region near the skin. Photos in that study show the slight color variation in an area of about 2-3 cells deep where the flavor components were concentrated. Light, temp and nutrition were environmental elements that effected this area. Other more recent studies note that it is temperature that has the most effect on the flavor and ripening over light quality/quantity.

It is this thin area that I note subtle differences in color in clear skinned green fleshed varieties when ripe. It's probably that 2-3 layer variation that gives it the "depth" I am noting.

Looking carefully at some other lines I have seen "depth" color differences in them but since the yellow skin is acting like a filter it is harder to see generally.

If one is confused by what I mean about "depth" here is one way to experience it. Just look real closely at several different tomatoes that are red ripe. Generally one will see small flecks of gold or yellow just under the skin. Look very close and it is evident some are closer to the surface than others (like varying distances of fruit floating in a jello mold).

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 5:26PM
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californian

Yes, I should have added there is a slight amber blush when ripe, but a squeeze test is probably the fastest way to tell, especially when some of the tomatoes are partially obscured by foliage.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 7:08PM
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springlift34

Of course, you could just throw the whole thing in your mouth using the squeeze method.

Take care,
Travis

    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 2:13AM
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