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How & When to Pick Tomatoes?

Do you know? La Tomatina is a fiesta that takes place in the Spanish town of Bunol on the last Wednesday of August every year.

More than 20,000 people participate in this festival, where ripe Tomatoes are picked up and thrown at one another.

But we are here trying to pick Tomatoes at the right time, so we can enjoy their flavor, not to start a food festival.

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

Unripe tomatoes
You shall pick Tomatoes once they start blushing with a slight reddish tint.

Many of us get confused with rumors of flavor loss from early picking.

But that is not the case if you know exactly when to pick unripe Tomatoes from the vine.

Therefore, 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 produces ethylene gas as a sign of the ripening process.

Therefore, the ripening process of Tomatoes continues even after picking them off from the vine. Interesting, isn’t it?

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.

Tomatoes riping
Depending upon the environment, Tomatoes tend to ripen faster on the vine.

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

Generally, temperature, sunlight, and climate mainly contribute to speeding up Tomatoes’ ripening journey.

Increasing the temperature between 65 to 80°F, you can speed up the ripening process.

In contrast, keeping Tomatoes at a minimum temperature of 50°F can slow their 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 be able to see young green Tomatoes hanging on the plant.

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

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

Harvesting tomatoes
You can pick tomatoes once they are red and ripe on the vine.

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

But also remember, once the Tomatoes reach the breaker phase, you may 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 to pick Tomatoes is during the early morning hours.

However, do not wait too long to pick them up, as a drizzling rain can cause them to split apart.

Generally, roots take up a bit too much water, causing Tomatoes to split.

Freshly harvested tomatoes
Do not store freshly harvested Tomatoes in the fridge right away.

Therefore, you shall calm your temptation once Tomatoes cross the breaker phase.

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.

In general, depending upon the variety of the Tomatoes, the ideal time to pick them may vary.

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

In contrast, you shall 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 the ripening process, and frosty weather can damage fruit and plant. 

Therefore, it is best to pick Tomatoes at the end of their growing season, which is late summer.

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

How to Pick Tomatoes?

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

Generally, some varieties of Tomatoes turn yellow, orange, purple, or even stay green when they are ripe.

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 tough. If it is soft, it is ready for picking.
  • You can distinguish the intensity of fragrance coming off 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.
Picking Tomatoes
Depending upon the variety or type of the Tomatoes ideal time to pick Tomatoes may vary.

After ensuring the Tomato is ready to harvest, you shall proceed to 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 complete ripening if you notice Tomatoes cracking at the stem.
  • If any 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 on their own.

You can harvest mature green Tomatoes before frost, then ripen them in a paper bag at a temperature of 55 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

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

How to Store Tomatoes?

Generally, lots of 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.

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 for longer by allowing them to breathe.

Freshly harvested tomato
Harvest Tomatoes when they are in the breaker phase.

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

Generally, you can use a paper bag to keep apples or bananas and Tomatoes picked at the breaking phase.

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

Depending upon the maturity of picked Tomatoes, this paper bag method may work.

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.


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, try to avoid storing fresh Tomatoes in a refrigerator and enjoy them sooner.

Happy Plant Parenting!!!

You may be interested to read the article on growing sweet Potatoes Indoors and in Texas.

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