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Stupid question about tomatoes

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2005
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by lbray on August 10, 2005 11:04 PM
I'm obviously new at this... When do I pick my tomatoes, do I wait until they are completely ripe?
by MinnesotaGirlie on August 11, 2005 12:06 AM
That is what I have been doing, letting them ripen on the vine. I believe you can pick when they are green too and they will ripen on the counter, however I don't know how long that would take, and I don't know if the tomatoes would remain unspoiled long enough for them to get ripe. I've been trying to pick when red, and then either eat them or pressure can them within a week.

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by MinnesotaGirlie on August 11, 2005 12:07 AM
PS.... there is no such thing as a stupid question, if you don't know the answer to it [Wink]

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by Triss on August 11, 2005 12:16 AM
It also depends on what you want to use them for. If you are eating them right off the vine, then you really want them completely red and with a little give when you squeeze them (that is how I like them). If you are going to cook with them, they can be a little more ripe.

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We are all under the same stars... therefore we are never far apart.
by weezie13 on August 11, 2005 02:05 AM
And it depends on how you like them...
If you're going for a Green Tomato to fry up,
or a table/salad tomato you want a little riper..

Same for canning, a little firmer....

That is how we learn, we all learn...
So, ask away... we all started out new to gardening too... not to worry here...

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Don't forget to be kind to strangers. For some who have
done this have entertained angels without realizing it.
- Bible - Hebrews 13:2

by tkhooper on August 11, 2005 04:22 AM
I call them dim bulb questions and most of mine qualify as being in that catagory. But I think Meg has the award with the bird identification question to date. I could be wrong though. Stick around awhile you'll see me ask some very strange questions from time to time. But when it comes to keeping my baby plants healthy I'm willing to wear the dunce cap as much as necessary lol. Everyone is a friend here so no worries.
by gchughes on August 11, 2005 09:24 PM
I've always preferred to pick the tomatoes when they will let go of the vine. Of course we use ours for sandwiches and salads and such, so we wanted then to be ripe and full of flavor. When they just pull right off the vine, they are "ready". If you pick a bunch you may want to pick some that will ripen in a day or so or in two days or so....just spread out the times for them to ripen. And there really are NO STUPID QUESTIONS.
by DaisyM on August 16, 2005 12:15 PM
Personally I find the tastiest tomato's are the ones ripened on the vine. They also seem to be lower in acid and higher in natural sugar which makes them so tasty. In the fall, around frost time, I'm forced to pick green tomatos to ripen in the house, but I have to admit, they ripen on the tart side and just don't taste as good as the ripened ones. However, when a tomato is just starting to ripen and is still on the pink side, it can be picked and left to ripen completely, and it will still have it's good taste. Anyways, this is my experience with the ones that I grow. LOL, let me tell you, that even these taste better than the tastless ones you buy in a store.
by Longy on August 16, 2005 01:55 PM
I agree Daisy, vine ripened beats picked green any day for taste and they both beat store bought. It is warmth that ripens tomatoes too so if you do need to ripen them indoors, pick a warm place, not a sunny place.
No such thing as stupid questions. Only stupid mistakes......

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The secret is the soil.
by Sorellina on August 19, 2005 09:58 PM

All I can offer are my own practices when it comes to picking. You'll have to fit that into what works best for you, for what you intend to use your tomatoes.

I go out every morning and evening to inspect my plants. I have so many, and all of them seem to have their own agendas for production. I pick them a day or two before peak ripeness because I'm using them for many different purposes and have fruit in all shapes and sizes. The beefsteaks I'll pick just at ripeness or maybe a day before because they're used primarily for BLT and bruschetta sandwiches. Cherries I pick at ripeness for snacks, pizzas, and salads. But paste tomatoes I pick earlier because I need 5 lb or more for sauce batches and I don't want them to be over-ripe for that, if possible. I don't can whole tomatoes so much, though, so even if I do have some over-ripe ones, they all go through the tomato mill anyway, so it's not a disaster.

At the end of the season, before frost can kill the plants, I pull the vines up with the green tomatoes attached and lay them flat inside the house on a large beach towel to ripen. It's ethylene gas inside the fruit that allows them to ripen without nutrients from the soil and photosynthesis from the leaves, but they'll never be as sweet as those ripened on the intact plant. Still, for canning, and Fall salads, they can't be beat. We were eating garden tomatoes until American Thanksgiving last year.

PS Daisy, it's a misnomer regarding low/high acid in tomatoes. They all contain the same amount of's the amount of fruit sugar that varies with variety and ripeness. FYI.

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