It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for – tomatoes are ready to harvest! You can almost taste the delicious flavors of that first bite.
Whether you’re cooking, canning, freezing or simply eating your tomatoes raw, you’ll want to pick them at the perfect moment. These harvesting tips will ensure your organic tomatoes are ripe when picked.
Timing is Everything
One of the first steps to a successful harvest is keeping a close eye on your tomatoes to determine the best time to pick. Tomatoes are typically ready to harvest 60-85 days after planting seedlings outdoors. However, timing can change depending on your climate and the variety of tomatoes you’re growing.
If you’re planting determinate tomatoes, be ready for a large harvest all at once. These varieties typically set and ripen their fruit within about two weeks.
Indeterminate tomatoes can ripen all summer long, so keep an eye on these varieties throughout the season to ensure peak harvesting times.
Color is Key
When the tomato has even color throughout, it is typically ready to be harvested. Tomatoes often ripen from the bottom up, so check the bottom of the tomato first for mature growth color. Once the entire tomato has reached this color, it is ready to be harvested.
Tomatoes need heat to harvest, and not necessarily light. They continue to ripen on overcast or cloudy days, as long as the temperature is warm. Tomatoes can even continue to ripen off the vine. If you live in an area with an especially hot climate, it’s better to pick the tomato from the vine before it reaches its mature color. Tomatoes will continue to ripen and change color as long as they are stored in warm temperatures.
Trust Your Instincts
When it comes to harvesting tomatoes, trust your intuition. Ripe tomatoes should feel firm, but not hard. Overripe tomatoes will be soft and can be composted. Ripe tomatoes should feel full and heavy. Under ripe tomatoes are often lightweight and need more time on the vine before harvesting.
Keep a close eye on your tomato plants as harvest times come near. Overripe tomatoes typically become too heavy and fall from the vine. This can lead to disease and rot, causing you to lose a large portion of your harvest.
When tomatoes are ready to harvest, simply twist off the vine by hand or use clippers for larger tomatoes. Cut the stem close to the fruit and enjoy!
How do you plan on using your fresh tomato harvest?
For more tips on tomatoes, check out our Total Guide to Growing Tomatoes.