Harvesting Tomatoes

  • I think tomatoes have the best flavour when they are picked just before they’ve reached their colour peak. At this stage, they are still firm and will last several days on your kitchen counter. Tomatoes that are already slightly soft will be at their best for only a day or two after picking.
  • Red tomatoes left hanging on the vine will not taste as good as those harvested earlier, because the primary flavour components, sugar and acid, start to decrease.
  • I always recommend that gardeners write on their garden calendars which varieties they like best. This certainly helps me out, because I sometimes find it tough to remember from year to year which of the new varieties are best.
  • Harvest ripe tomatoes by gently breaking the stem just above the fruit at the knuckle. Always try to keep this bit of stem attached so that tomatoes will keep longer after picking.
  • If you plant has an entire truss (branch-full) of ripe tomatoes, cut the whole thing off with scissors. An intact truss of tomatoes lasts longest of all!
  • Pick often to encourage the production of more fruit.
  • If any of your tomatoes have developed blossom-end rot, pick them anyhow. Just cut off the rotten parts after harvesting—the remainder of the tomato is fine for eating.
  • A good friend told me of a “harvesting” method which allowed her to keep on picking ripe tomatoes until early December. Try this if your container-grown plants are still bearing fruit at the end of the season. Move the entire pot into the garage, soil plant and all, and don’t do anything else to it, other than pick off ripe tomato as you need them. Don’t worry about water or light. The plant will soon begin to look terrible, but tomatoes will continue to ripen on the vine.