Katrina killed my crop!

Here in central NY, the remnants of hurricane Katrina came through and dumped a lot of rain last week. Within a day or so all my red tomatos on the vine cracked wide pen (nearly exploded) because of the extra water. I guess I wasn't watering enough prior to that. Anyway, looks like this season was a bust, as it took forever to get ripe ones, and then what was ripe was done in. Tomorrow I pull all the vines!
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Quoting FDR:

Bummer.
Tomatoes ripen from the inside out. For future reference, do yourself a big favor and get in the habit of picking any tomatoes that have reached breaker stage (at least some visible blush at the blossom end) before any rains or storms. Then set the fruits inside on your kitchen counter or in a cabinet out of direct sunlight -- no sunny windows (that's a myth). Also, do not put them in a paper bag with other fruit in an attempt to speed up the process -- best to reserve that trick only for when you've got total greenies that wouldn't ripen otherwise.
They will taste just fine. It is a persistent myth that tomatoes must always be left on the vine until dead ripe for the best taste.
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*snip*

I'd like to suggest why it continues... Tomatoes are (usually) just the right size to fit on window sills, so they're up out of the way and they do ripen quite effectively there. I can't think of any other place that's as safe as the window sill in the kitchen.
Puckdropper
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Suze wrote:

No, a tomato picked ripe in the middle of a run of great tomato days will always taste better than a Farmers' Market tomato, or a green tomato ripened in your kitchen, just as it will taste better then a late tomato. Very late tomatoes, yes, kitchen ripened is probably better than picked from a dying vine after a cold rain. And kitchen ripened definitely beats lost to the frost.
Kitchen ripened tomatoes do taste "just fine" - what they'll never taste is transcendent.
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Good choice of words. :-)
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Quoting Jon Shemitz:

Not necessarily. It depends on who is selling at your FM and what varieties they are offering. Some FMs have more selection than others -- an FM in SoCal might actually have some great selections, whereas one in Podunk, Iowa may not.
For example, if you are growing Roma or Celebrity and they are selling Pruden's Purple or Kosovo or Black from Tula, their tomatoes are highly likely to taste better -- even if you grew your tomatoes under slightly more favorable conditions than they did. Unless of course (taking it to the extreme), they picked at green wrap stage and gassed them or something like that.

Breaker != green wrap
There is also more than one "breaker" stage.

That's just not the case. It's not uncommon at all for people to favorably impress at taste-offs with tomatoes that were picked before dead ripe stage. And this, at regional tomato get-togethers where a wide selection of great tomato varieties (and growers) are at the events. In fact, a lot of people that participate in those types of events will pick early in the week to ensure that they have intact and tasty fruits to take to the (weekend) event.
My experiences growing open pollinated/heirloom tomatoes, as well as having the opportunity over the last few years to taste a wide variety of tomatoes grown by other tomatophiles under various conditions definitely indicate otherwise -- i.e. that a tomato that wasn't left on the vine until dead ripe just can't taste "transcendent".
Generally, the primary factor in taste is variety selection. The genetics of a Better Boy or a BHN 444, or whatever was on special at the Home Dep*t just can't compare to, say, an Aunt Gertie's Gold, or a Cherokee Purple, etc. in terms of taste potential.
However, watering can also be a major factor in how tomatoes taste. Most people water way, way too much. Practically speaking (for the home gardener), leaving tomatoes on the vine as long as possible frequently results in further taste dilution way beyond any marginal benefit that may have been obtained by leaving fruits on until dead ripe. And a good rain can ruin them, both taste and appearance wise.
Which was pretty much my original point.
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On Sun, 11 Sep 2005 04:44:39 -0500, Suze

Yes, necessarily.

Here in Podunk, South Carolina, we have a lovely, newly started Farmer's Market on Saturdays in a bank parking lot. And, yeah, you can tell the difference in a tomato picked ripe that morning, and one of any variety ripened on the counter.
I had the same problem FDR had, only mine was for most of the month of June and the first half of August. Too much rain, tomatoes left on the vine splitting, so I brought them inside to ripen. I had Black From Tula, Mortgage Lifters, Box Car Willies, Brandywines, Druzba, and Peron Sprayless. The area just to the north of us had a more normal rain pattern, and one of the local growers from that area comes to the Farmer's Market every weekend. He's growing Better Boys and one of the Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus hybrids. He's still getting tomatoes, and they're wonderful.
So, I was forced to make the comparison between vine-ripened and counter ripened, and vine ripened will win every time, even when it's a marginal flavor tomato like Better Boy. Even the tomatoes I left on the vine to ripen after they split tasted better, I just cut a few slices off the bottom.
Penelope
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