Picking tomatoes at the right time is crucial to getting the best harvest for your summer salads. If you harvest tomatoes too early they will become hard and bitter, if you leave them hanging too long they may burst, rot or be eaten by birds. To get garden tomatoes with the best taste, you should not generalize, because the harvest time depends on the variety of tomatoes, and to some extent on the local climate and care of tomatoes. Sometimes the best way to determine the right time to harvest tomatoes is through trial and experimentation. Even more, when and how you harvest your tomatoes can also have a significant impact on the yield of your plants.
Table of Contents
When to harvest tomatoes?
From when can you harvest tomatoes?
Tomatoes ripen at different times depending on weather conditions and variety. Cherry tomatoes, for example, ripen faster than larger tomato varieties, and cold weather can affect how early in the season the vegetable begins to ripen. However, there are some clear signs that garden tomatoes are ready to harvest, and if you notice them, you can also harvest tomato seeds for new plants next year.
- Deep red color
A deep red tomato is ripe for harvest. The deeper the color, the higher the sugar content of the tomato and the sweeter it tastes. Remember, however, that a deep red tomato is ripe and must be eaten quickly.
- Test if the tomatoes are hard
Squeeze a tomato and it will give a little if it is ripe and feel hard if it is not yet ready to harvest.
- Fantastic smell
If your tomato smells wonderful, it’s probably time to harvest it.
- Tomatoes are easy to remove from the plant
As with other fruits and vegetables, the ease with which a tomato detaches from the main plant is a good indicator of whether it is ready to harvest. Take a ripe-looking tomato between three fingers and gently pull on it. If it comes off (or shows signs of wanting to), it is ripe. However, we do not recommend harvesting tomatoes this way if you are sure they are ripe!
The ideal time
To know when it’s best to harvest your tomatoes, you need to know how a tomato ripens and matures when it’s still attached to the plant. Once a tomato begins to turn from green to light pink , it no longer absorbs nutrients from the plant. This is the so-called breakage stage of the tomato. Once a tomato reaches this stage, it continues to ripen on the vine without any problems and it is actually better for the tomato and the plant to harvest it early. And this is for a number of reasons. First and foremost, an early harvest helps your garden tomatoes look fantastic and have no blemishes. The longer a tomato hangs on the vine, the greater the risk that it will be damaged by insects and animals. The more mature a tomato is, the more likely it is to be attacked by pests.
The ideal time to harvest is when the tomato is about halfway to its final color. Also, if tomatoes are left on the vine longer, they have a greater chance of developing sun spots and blemishes. The longer the tomato is left, the more likely it is to fall off the vine onto the ground in a storm or wind, causing even greater bruising.
Harvesting your tomatoes at the beginning of ripening will also keep the weight of your tomato vines manageable. In mid-summer, a fully loaded tomato plant can become quite heavy. Unfortunately, this can cause branches to split and break. This can not only hurt the tomatoes, but also reduce the harvest.
Until when can you harvest tomatoes?
You should harvest any remaining tomatoes, ripe or not, before temperatures drop below 7°C. Otherwise, the fruit will be lost to the cold, so it is best to try to let the remaining crop ripen indoors. Fully green fruits do not ripen indoors. Tomatoes go from a dull green to a glossy green before they take on their final color. Glossy green garden tomatoes eventually ripen indoors, especially if stored near an ethylene-producing fruit such as bananas.
How to harvest tomatoes?
Tomatoes are best harvested with sharp, clean pruning shears. This allows you to make clean cuts that heal quickly. To harvest, cut each tomato close to the top without cutting into the fruit. Try to cut off as much of the stem as possible .
How to store tomatoes
- Do not put in the refrigerator
Never put fresh garden tomatoes in the refrigerator. This will cause them to lose their typical flavor.
To freeze, core fresh, blemish-free tomatoes and place them whole in freezer bags or containers. When thawed, the skin can be peeled off. And to learn how to dry garden tomatoes, click here .
- Tomatoes ripen – Tip
Tomatoes have been shown to ripen best when stored in a cool, shaded area. The ideal temperature for ripening is around 18 to 21 degrees. Also, tomatoes need a lot of air circulation to speed up the ripening process.