When Are My Tomatoes
Ready To Pick?

by Brett W.
(Clover, SC)

Is my tomato ripe when it has a green top?

Is my tomato ripe when it has a green top?

Dear Tomato Dirt,

I know this is a seemingly obvious question, but the fact is I think I may be to eager to pick my tomatoes. (Who can blame me, really?)

I just picked a perfect Miss Kathy -- a large pink tomato. But I had to cut it off the vine. The tomato just didn't want to release. Although it looks perfect and ready to eat, it still has green shoulders.

So I'm looking for some input on when to pick. I don't like leaving "ripe" tomatoes hanging on the plant, weighing it down, and waiting for a bird to come along and peck at it. What should I look for in a tomato to know that it's ready to pick? (I realize you can't help me with the patience part.)

Thanks for your advice!
Brett W.

Dear Eager Beaver Brett,

That's a beautiful tomato. With just one or two more days, it would probably be absolutely perfect.

There are at least four ways to tell if a tomato is ready to pick.

1. Uniform color.Tomatoes ripen from their blossom end up to their shoulders. A tomato is perfectly ripe when it has an even, smooth color from top to bottom.

If you pick tomatoes when their color is not uniform, keep in mind that when you pluck it off the vine, its flavor development stops. (The color will continue to develop while the tomato sits on the counter.) If possible, wait until the last minute.

2. Touch.You can also check for ripeness by feel. A ripe tomato should be firm, but with just a little give especially on the bottom and shoulders.

3. Vine readiness. As you pointed out, your tomato resisted coming off the vine - and indicator that it needed a bit more time on the plant. Most ripe tomatoes pop off in your hand when you grasp them and twist. (Some larger tomatoes have larger branches and may require a knife.)

4. Taste. Ultimately, flavor and texture are the best indicators of ripeness. Sample a tomato you think is ripe. If it needs more or less time on the vine, then adjust your harvesting for that variety and that plant accordingly.

Keep an eye on all your tomatoes daily so you can harvest them when they're evenly-colored, firm to the touch with a bit of give on the vine, and a fresh, flavorful taste!

Happy Gardening!

Your friends at Tomato Dirt

Harvesting tomatoes - when to pick

Return to Tomato Dirt home

Comments for When Are My Tomatoes
Ready To Pick?

Average Rating starstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Apr 11, 2015
Tomatoes NEW
by: Anonymous

I have learnt a lot from tomato dirt. I learned how to make my own kitchen garden, how can I speed up the growth of tomatoes, many growing tips, many recipes and many things about tomatoes. It feels very good when I watch my tomatoes growing from the window of my kitchen. Do you know any essay writer? I need some guidelines for my essay. Thanks

Mar 04, 2015
thanks NEW
by: sara

Well, you have picked it almost at the right time and if you have waited for a day, I think you would have been able to pick a perfect one. But it is no bigger issue as this one would easily get an even color in two three days. beverly diamonds complaints

May 10, 2013
When to pick?
by: Anonymous

You know why I pick my maters when they are merely "blushing" instead of fully ripe? It's because the ants get them before I do. If I wait until they are nice and warm and red, then I take them in the house and they are full of ants. If I get them when they are merely blushing, and sit them in the window, eventually I get ripe maters but without the uninvited protein.

Jan 08, 2013
by: tomatoegal333

i like tomatoes in my salad. tomatoes are yummy.

Aug 20, 2012
by: Anonymous

So your final indicator of ripeness is taste? Okay, kinda defeats the purpose. If it were only that easy

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Best Tomato Growing Tips.

Join us on Facebook

Follow Me on Pinterest

FREE! Tomato Growing Tips
20-page guide
when you sign up for
Tomato Dirt newsletter!




Don't worry -- your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Tomato Dirt.