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Old 08-07-2009, 09:22 PM   #1
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When to pick tomatoes

This is only the second time I've tried growing tomatoes (Better Boys) and I've read lots of conflicting advice on when to pick them. Some say pick them when they've just started to turn orange and let them continue to ripen inside, while others say leave them on the vine until they are completely ripe so they develop more flavor. When do you pick your tomatoes? I took these photos this afternoon.

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Old 08-07-2009, 09:34 PM   #2
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For fried green tomatoes, pick them when they are green. For ripe tomatoes, pick them when they are ripe... bright red. I have picked tomatoes early, when in danger of a frost. I've also know people to yank the whole plant out and they continue ripen indoors (also because of frost).
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Old 08-07-2009, 10:47 PM   #3
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To me it depends on where you live and what your gardening problems are. In Hawaii and Florida, as soon as they turned the least bid red, bulbuls and other birds would eat them faster than they'd ripen. I did find a solution (went to a fabric store and bought green nylon net and covered them ... they'd get enough sun to ripen, and kept the birds away). I'd prefer to let them ripen on the vine until they are plump and red. Practically, though, when they are lying on the ground (we've had a wet, stormy summer here in NW IL) they will rot before ripening, so I'll pick them earlier. Also when there are a lot on one stem and they're crowding each other, I'll pick the first ones to turn orange-y and let them ripen inside. I guess, to me, you can buy tomatoes that were picked green and ripened inside all winter long, so I try to let them ripen outside for as long as possible. We have a short season here, though, and when frost threatens, everything gets picked and those that stand a chance of ripening inside, do so, the rest I (not being a huge fan of fried green tomatoes), I make into my own version of green salsa.
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Old 08-08-2009, 08:40 AM   #4
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I pick mine when they are that color, or a little earlier. Lots of varmints like ripe tomatoes, and I don't like to share.

I pick them earlier if they are on or near the ground, too.
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Old 08-08-2009, 10:38 AM   #5
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I pick them when they turn a definite red and then almost fall off the vine when I grab them. If there is any resistance to coming off I leave them for the next day.
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Old 08-08-2009, 10:48 AM   #6
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That great difference in taste between a store bought tomato and one you grow in your back yard is that your backyard tomatoes are actually fully ripened on the vine. If you pick them earlier, you end up with supermarket tomatoes. Pick them when you want to eat them. Sadly, the critter issue often forces you to pick earlier sometimes.

I gave up growing tomatoes because the critters always got there first. Now I go to farm stands.
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Old 08-08-2009, 10:49 AM   #7
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Ideally, one should let them completely ripen on the vine, but like Sparrowgrass, I have to pick them before the critters get them, so we do it when they first start to turn orange, before the squirrels and birds get to them.
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Old 08-09-2009, 12:15 PM   #8
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My tomatoes definitely do NOT taste like supermarket tomatoes, and I am sure Constance's don't either. I don't pick them green.

AndyM, your farm stand tomatoes are picked slightly underripe, too. It is almost impossible to transport a fully ripe tomato without damage.
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Old 08-09-2009, 12:20 PM   #9
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What U of Illinois Extension has to say:

Harvesting
Tomatoes should be firm and fully colored. They are of highest quality when they ripen on healthy vines and daily summer temperatures average about 75F. When temperatures are high (air temperature of 90F or more), the softening process is accelerated and color development is retarded, reducing quality. For this reason, during hot summer weather, pick your tomatoes every day or two, harvest the fruits when color has started to develop and ripen them further indoors (at 70 to 75F). On the day before a killing freeze is expected, harvest all green mature fruit that is desired for later use in the fall. Wrap the tomatoes individually in paper and store at 60 to 65F. They continue to ripen slowly over the next several weeks. Whole plants may be uprooted and hung in sheltered locations, where fruit continues to ripen.
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Old 08-09-2009, 12:45 PM   #10
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I pick mine when they are ready to eat, not a day sooner. I find this gives me the best flavor. I have no problem with animals eating mine though. If I did then I would possibly pick them sooner as something would be better than nothing.

Sedagive, do a test so that you can tell what is right for you. Pick one now and let it ripen inside and pick another when it is ready to eat and see which way works for you.
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