I'm a first-time gardener, living in Ohio and had a bad time earlier this year with a month solid of rain, then record heat, and in between deer eating the green tomatoes off my plants and cropping the top off my determinate (generic patio tomato). I put up a fence and now FINALLY have Brandywine tomatoes ripening and Cherokee tomatoes maybe ripening? The determinate ended up very short but loaded with tomatoes that are still plain green.
I'm visiting family and want to take some tomatoes so I'm going to pick the ripening Brandywines, but I'm not sure if it's safe to pick the Cherokee purples. About a week ago the tops started to turn a darker shade of purple/green, but the bottoms are still the same light green. Does it count as beginning to ripen when the tops darken, or do I need to wait until I see red showing?
Also, it seems awfully late in the season to me. All of the plants still have a bunch of green tomatoes. Are odds good that most of these will ripen before freezing?