Tomato Ripening

Early July starts tomato ripening time. We've all heard of 'vine ripe' flavor but does a tomato have to remain on the vine until it is completely ripe? The answer is no. When a tomato reaches a full size and the fruit becomes a pale green, it begins the ripening process. After the tomato reaches a stage when it's about ½ green and ½ pink, a layer of cells forms across the stem of the tomato- sealing it from the main vine. At this point there is nothing moving from the plant into the fruit. At this stage the tomato can be harvested and ripened off the vine with no loss of flavor, quality or nutrition.
Red pigments in tomatoes don't form above 95°F so tomatoes ripened in extreme heat will have a orange-red color. Tomatoes held indoors at cooler temperatures will ripen slower. You can speed up or slow down the ripening process by raising the temperature (to an optimum of 85°F) or lowering the temperature (to a minimum of 50°F). Tomatoes develop their optimum flavor, nutrition, and color when the tomato is in the full red ripe stage but this doesn't have to occur on the plant!

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2 of 56 comments
  • JimG
    on Sep 30, 2013

    so I learned by accident.... Due to the heat, the tomatoes would not ripen (read that on Hometalk and various searches), BUT what I learned is if I cut the tomatoes and leave some vine and HANG them on my Banana Holder with bananas hanging also, the tomatoes ripen quickly! So I pick them when they are green and hang them inside to ripen! I avoid the concern for bugs, birds or animals getting to them and they ripen, I eat them and then the next few are ready to be picked! (Now my CHERRY tomatoes... they did GREAT!)

  • Nancy
    on Aug 14, 2017

    I did not know that the tomato did not ripen above 95 degrees. I live where the temp has been up to 106 and I was wondering why they did not get super red. My parents taught me to ripen tomato on the window sill, so I do that.

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