10 Tips for Harvesting Tomatoes

6 May

harvesting tomatoesYou’ve done all the hard work, and you’re ready to harvest your home-grown tomatoes. The last thing you want is to cut into an over or under ripened fruit.

Here are our 10 tips for harvesting tomatoes.

1. Harvest Before Fully Coloured

Although your tomatoes may not look fully ripened, harvesting just before they are coloured completely will force your tomato plant to divert its resources to growing new fruits. This can help increase your yield.

2. Keep an Eye on Heirloom Tomatoes

It is especially important to harvest heirloom varieties before they are fully coloured. Tomatoes ripen from the inside out, and heirlooms are ripe before they reach their mature colour. Leaving them on the vine any longer could result in an over ripened, or even rotten fruit.

3. Trim the Plant

Harvesting tomatoes before they are fully ripened helps push the plant’s energy into creating new fruit, and trimming lower leaves and pinching off flowers does the same. Pinching off flowers is particularly important if you predict a frost in the near future.

4. Check Tomato Plants Everyday

Tomatoes ripen from the bottom up, so you’ll need to check your tomato plant everyday. That way, you wont miss the chance to pick tomatoes when the skin looks smooth and waxy, even if the top hasn’t fully coloured.

5. Pick Tomatoes Carefully

Hold the fruit firmly, but not tightly. Twist until the fruit comes away from the stem. Alternatively, use cutters to snip the stem close to the fruit.

6. Pay Attention to Firmness

As well as colour, firmness can help you determine when a tomato is ready to be harvested. Fruit that is solid is not ready, and fruit that is very soft has already over ripened.

7. Avoid Harvesting Unripe Tomatoes

If the weather permits, leave your tomatoes on the vine until they begin to colour. Vine ripened tomatoes exude a delightful tomato fragrance that other tomatoes don’t. Next time you’re in the supermarket, try smelling the tomatoes. Usually, they are odourless, which means they were ripened artificially.

8. Ripen at Room Temperature

Tomatoes are to be ripened at room temperature. Once they are fully ripe, eat them right away. To maintain flavour, we suggest storing them in bowl on the bench. You can store them in the fridge to prolong life, however the flavour will not be as rich.

9. Remove Rotting Tomatoes

If you are ripening a bunch of tomatoes together, ensure none have cracks, holes or tiny specks of rot. Moisture will spread quickly, and could cause healthy fruits to rot too.

10. Speed Up the Ripening Process

Can’t wait to try one of your homegrown tomatoes? Enjoy ripe tomatoes faster by placing the tomatoes in a paper bag with a banana or apple. The fruits give off ethylene gas, which will naturally hasten the ripening process.

There’s a lot that goes on before tomatoes are ready to be harvested. If you’d like to learn more about growing delicious tomatoes, take a look at our highly popular guide How to Grow Juicy Tasty Tomatoes.