Knowing the best time to pick cherry tomatoes is crucial to ensure optimal flavor, texture, and overall quality.
Here’s a detailed description of when is the best time to pick cherry tomatoes for harvest:
- Observing fruit color: cherry tomatoes generally change color as they ripen. Depending on the variety, they may start as green, and then progress to shades of yellow, orange, red, or even dark purple. Pay attention to the recommended color of maturity for the specific cherry tomato variety you are growing. When the fruits have reached the desired color, it’s an indication that they are approaching maturity.
- Checking firmness: Gently squeeze the cherry tomatoes between your fingers. Ripe cherry tomatoes should be firm yet slightly yielding to pressure. They should not feel overly soft or mushy. Avoid picking them when they are still hard and unripe, as they may lack flavor and sweetness.
- Assessing sheen and shine: Ripe cherry tomatoes often have a glossy, shiny appearance, which indicates their readiness for harvest. The skin should be smooth and taut, without any wrinkling or blemishes.
- Taste testing: If you’re unsure about the ripeness of the cherry tomatoes, taste-testing can be a reliable method. Pluck a tomato from the vine and sample it. Ripe cherry tomatoes should have a sweet, juicy flavor. If they taste slightly tart or under-ripe, give them a few more days to mature on the vine before harvesting.
- Considering stem attachment: When harvesting cherry tomatoes, it’s best to leave a small portion of the stem attached to the fruit. This helps to extend their shelf life and prevent damage to the fruit. Use clean gardening shears or scissors to snip the tomatoes off the vine, leaving a short stem attached.
It’s important to note that cherry tomatoes can continue to ripen off the vine, so you can also harvest them slightly under-ripe if you anticipate significant rainfall or frost in the forecast. Place the picked tomatoes in a cool, well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight, and allow them to ripen fully before consuming.
Regularly inspect the cherry tomato plants and harvest the ripe fruits as they mature to encourage continuous fruit production throughout the growing season.