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!
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
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.
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.
Old computers are getting to be a lost art. Here at Uncreative Labs, we
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.
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.
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
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.
"Maybe you'd like to ask the Wizard for a heart."
"ElissaAnn" < email@example.com>
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