Knowing when to harvest tomatoes can be tricky. Leaving them on the vine for too long might result in overripe fruits that lack flavor.
So, how long can ripe tomatoes stay on the vine?
A ripe cherry tomato can stay on the vine for 3-5 days while a Paul Robeson tomato won’t stay even for a day. So, the duration depends on the variety of the tomato. Some other factors also have an impact, for example, if the area is highly humid and prone to rainfall, you should harvest the tomato as soon as it gets ripened. Also, if there is a forecast for cold weather, pick the tomatoes early.
To understand the whole thing in detail, keep reading the article.
How Long Can Ripe Tomatoes Stay On The Vine?
Ripe tomatoes can stay on the vine for up to 3-5 days to 3-4 weeks depending on the variety and environmental conditions. For example, a cherry tomato can stay around 3 to 5 days on the vine once it’s fully ripe. Paul Robeson tomato, on the other hand, will burst into liquid even after one day of being fully ripe.
Sungold cherry tomatoes also have a low hang time. The stem of these tomatoes is very delicate to touch when it starts to rip. And they will fall on the ground once the orange color is only showing up. On the contrary, Black Beauty tomato and Galapagos Island tomato have a longer hang-life.
Factors Affecting The Hang Time Of The Tomato
Apart from the varieties, there are a few other factors that affect the hang time of tomatoes on the vine. The factors are discussed below.
Pests and Birds:
Pests and birds tend to be more attracted to fully ripened tomatoes. When tomatoes are fully ripened, they tend to emit a stronger scent and produce a higher sugar content. It is appealing to both pests and birds.
Some of the pests that commonly target ripe tomatoes include hornworms, aphids, whiteflies, and fruit flies which can cause damage to the fruit by chewing holes or making tunnels.
Another bug Spider mites can also ruin the fruit as it does to other plants. Such as spider mites can attack String of Pearls plants can get ruined due to spider mites attack.
So, keeping ripened tomatoes on the vine can be challenging especially, if you don’t do something about the garden bugs and your area has abundant birds.
Rain or Humid Environment:
Rainfall can cause ripe tomatoes to split or crack. It leads to the fruit becoming more prone to spoilage and pest damage. Split tomatoes tend to catch molds faster as well.
If your region has a high level of humidity, it will damage your ripened tomatoes in the same way. Also, due to excess humidity, the soluble sugar inside the ripened tomato is reduced and the tomato tastes watery or less sweet.
Frost or cold weather can be very damaging to ripened tomatoes. Tomatoes are generally warm-weather plants and cannot withstand prolonged exposure to cold weather.
When exposed to frost or cold temperatures, the water inside the tomato fruit crystallizes and expands. It causes the cells to burst and lead to damage to the fruit. This can result in a soft, mushy texture, discoloration, and reduced quality and taste.
So, if cold weather is forecasted in your area, and your tomatoes are ready to harvest, pick them up as soon as possible.
Speaking of discoloration, this problem in tomatoes can happen for various reasons just as the discoloration happens in firestick and other plants.
When Is The Best Time To Harvest Tomatoes?
The best time to harvest tomatoes is when a ⅓ portion of the tomato is ripped and the tomato is still firm. In this condition, the tomato reaches its peak texture and flavor. A fully ripened tomato can be also harvested to get perfect color and flavor.
Here are some ways to find out if now is the time to harvest your tomatoes.
- The tomato will look firm but will have a soft texture when gently squeezed.
- Around ⅓ portion of the whole tomato will reach its ripened color. Although most varieties of tomatoes will be a deep, bright red, some varieties will appear in different colors as well.
- For example, the Buffalosun tomato and Chef’s Choice Bicolor show up bright yellow or orange color when fully ripened. So, know the color of your tomato variety to understand if they are fully ripened.
- Along with colors, different tomato varieties reach different sizes in their fully grown stages. You have to keep an eye on the size of the tomatoes. And to boost their growth, you can use coffee beans as organic fertilizer. Coffee grounds are great for plumeria, tomatoes, and other plants.
- If the weather is rainy or there is cold-weather forecasting, don’t wait for the tomatoes to reach the perfect color. You should harvest them even if they are still mostly green.
So, we have concluded that rather than keeping the ripened tomatoes on the vine you should harvest them when they are ripened.
How To Pick And Store Ripe Tomatoes?
Here are some tips for picking and storing ripe tomatoes.
- Check the tomatoes before harvesting and make sure they are ready.
- Twist and pull the tomato gently from the stem, without tugging or yanking. A well-vine-ripened tomato should be easy to pull from the stem.
- Be selective in picking only the ripe tomatoes, leaving the unripe ones for later, if there’s no weather emergency.
- Store the freshly picked tomatoes in an open Tupperware box or other well-ventilated containers. Make sure to place those tomatoes upside down leaving the step part exposed.
- You can keep the ripened tomatoes in the refrigerator as well but make sure the tomatoes are at room temperature before you make dishes with them.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
What Happens When A Tomato Becomes Overripe On The Vine?
When a tomato becomes overripe on the vine, it becomes soft, mealy, or mushy in texture which is not suitable for a clean cut. Also, the acidic level in these tomatoes is increased and the Glucose and fructose concentrations are reduced. As a result, the tomato will have a weaker flavor.
How Long For Tomatoes To Ripen On The Vine?
Most tomato varieties take between 20 and 30 days to fully convert from green to red, or its ripped color. However, the length of time varies with different tomato varieties and other factors like weather, sunlight exposure, and soil conditions.
Will Tomatoes Ripen If You Cut Off All Of The Leaves?
No, without the leaves the tomato plant won’t be able to photosynthesize and the fruits will be exposed to direct scorching sunlight. Removing a couple of leaves of a tomato plant might help to expose the fruits to sufficient sunlight and air, which can help them ripen faster.
Now you know how long can ripe tomatoes stay on the vine. Although it’s possible to keep some varieties of ripened tomatoes on the vine, it’s better to harvest them on time and store them.
By paying attention to the signs of ripening and properly harvesting tomatoes, you can enjoy the delicious freshly picked tomatoes in your meals.
Goodbye for now!
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