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How & When to Pick Tomatoes?

Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) are a classic plant with edible fruits that you must pick at the right time to grab all antioxidants and vitamin C.

Generally, you can pick the Tomatoes when they turn pinkish-red from green and are slightly tender to the touch. Additionally, Tomatoes can ripen regardless of whether on or off the vine.

Continue reading this article to learn when to pick unripe Tomatoes and store them properly without losing flavor.

Do Tomatoes Ripen Faster On or Off the Vine?

Tomatoes, being a fruit, moderately produce ethylene gas as a sign of the ripening process.

Therefore, the ripening process of Tomatoes continues even after picking them off from the vine.

Ripe red tomatoes
Keeping Tomatoes at a minimum temperature of 50°F can slow their ripening process.

Hence, cultivators pick Tomatoes before they get ripe for commercial purposes.

Meanwhile, Tomatoes ripen comparatively faster on the vine if provided with proper care conditions surrounding the vines.

Even if picked Tomatoes keep ripening at their own pace, you can speed up their ripening process.

Increasing the temperature between 65 and 80°F can speed up the ripening process.

Additionally, you can regularly prune damaged leaves and branches to focus energy on the fruits, which will help Tomatoes ripen on the vine more quickly.

Furthermore, for accelerated growth and ripening, provide some partial shade, little watering, and nitrogen-based fertilizer to your Tomatoes.

What is the Best Time to Pick Tomatoes?

Tomatoes do not take long to become ripe once they reach the mature green stage.

Within a month of the golden Tomato blossoms, you will see young green Tomatoes hanging on the plant.

Then, you can expect young green Tomatoes to be fully red and ripe within 15 to 20 days.

Depending upon the purpose, you can pick Tomatoes before or after Tomatoes are completely ripe.

If not for commercial purposes, you may leave Tomatoes on vines until they turn tender red.

But once the Tomatoes reach the breaker phase, pick Tomatoes without worrying about flavor or nutrition.

Here, the breaker is one of the six ripening phases where the Tomato is half green, half pinkish red. This ripening phase is the best time to pick Tomatoes for commercial purposes.

Meanwhile, the best time of day to pick Tomatoes is early morning but do not wait too long to pick them up, as a drizzling rain can cause them to split apart.

Generally, roots take up too much water, causing Tomatoes to split. Therefore, calm your temptation once Tomatoes cross the breaker phase.

Tomato plant with red beautiful leaves.
Tomatoes regulate blood pressure, keep the skin healthy, and prevent eye problems.

Additionally, you can determine the ideal time to pick tomatoes by looking for indicators like how tender they are to the touch, the fragrance of tomatoes, and their maturity days.

The ideal time to pick them may vary depending on the variety of the Tomatoes.

Generally, it is often suggested to pick heirloom Tomatoes like Beefsteak, Brandywine Pink slightly underripe.

In contrast, pick Tomatoes like Tiny Tim and Cherry once their color change from green.

Moreover, the weather can also determine the harvesting time. The cooler weather can delay ripening, and frosty weather can damage fruit and plant. 

Therefore, harvest Tomatoes in July & September.

How to Pick Tomatoes?

Before getting your foot down, ensure the variety of the Tomato you have.

So, follow these steps to ensure the Tomatoes are firmly ripe regardless of their variety.

  • Ensure the Tomatoes’ skin is glossy, shiny, and smooth.
  • Try squeezing Tomatoes with subtle care. Give it a few extra days to ripen if it’s too harsh. If it is soft, it is ready for picking.
  • You can distinguish the intensity of the fragrance from ripe and unripe Tomatoes. Ripe Tomatoes give off a sweet, earthy smell, whereas unripe may give little to no scent.
  • Inspect your Tomatoes for their ripeness every day or two as all Tomatoes won’t ripe simultaneously.

After ensuring the Tomato is ready to harvest, you shall pick Tomatoes.

Here are the steps to harvest ripe Tomatoes.

  • Carefully grab the ripe Tomatoes and gently twist them so they will come off the vines easily.
  • Be sure not to grab it too tight or hard to avoid squishing Tomatoes.
  • You shall use sharp scissors to cut the vine if the Tomato does not come off easily.
  • Pick Tomatoes even before ripening if you notice Tomatoes cracking at the stem.
  • If unripe tomatoes are on the plant and frost is coming, you can pull the entire plant with roots and hang it upside down to let them ripen.

You can harvest mature green Tomatoes before frost, then ripen them in a paper bag at 55 to 75°F.

However, avoid picking entirely green early Tomatoes as they may not continue the ripening process.

Do you know Tomatoes have traveled to outer space to study the effect of outer space on seed growths?

How to Store Tomatoes?

Generally, many fruits have no problem staying in a refrigerator with their freshness intact.

However, Tomatoes do not seem to enjoy the refrigerator conditions. 

Tomatoes stored in a refrigerator tend to lose flavor with prolonged refrigeration time.

Tomato fruits
Tomatoes come in various colors, including yellow, purple, pink, and black.

Therefore, you must not keep fresh Tomatoes in the refrigerator until and unless you have to.

Otherwise, Tomatoes can be kept in a freezer. Frozen Tomatoes seemingly do not lose their flavor.

Furthermore, you can use plastic bags with small holes to keep ripe tomatoes longer by allowing them to breathe.

Meanwhile, avoid placing picked Tomatoes near sunny windowsills as it increases the ripening process.

Generally, you can use a paper bag to keep Apples, Bananas, and Tomatoes picked at the breaking phase.

Fruits like Apples, Bananas emit ethylene gas which is responsible for boosting the ripening process.

This paper bag method may work depending upon the maturity of picked Tomatoes.

Furthermore, this method will allow mature green Tomatoes to ripen in 7 to 10 days.

Very young Tomatoes won’t ripen regardless of what you do. But Tomatoes picked right after the breaking phase will surely ripen.

You can store freshly harvested ripe Tomatoes in the refrigerator for up to 10 days and on the counter out of direct sunlight for 3 to 4 days.

From Editorial Team


Tomatoes exhibit tons of signs to tell you it is the time to pick, and shiny red blush is one of them.

Pick the Tomatoes as soon as you notice them entering the breaker phase with slight redness with green.

If you can, avoid storing fresh Tomatoes in a refrigerator and enjoy them sooner.

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