I just came across an intriguing post on the Your Small Kitchen Garden blog: The Vine Ripened Tomato Lie. With a title like that, I had to read on! Here’s an excerpt:
Earlier I said, “…unless you have absolute control over how much rain falls and how often…” You do have such control! Quite simply: don’t let your tomatoes ripen on the vine. When pink first appears on a tomato’s skin, pick the tomato and set it inside out of direct sunlight.
The central premise is that leaving tomatoes on the vine to ripen a) doesn’t make them any tastier, and b) risks all sorts of damage, like cracking and green shoulders. It’s a radical concept, but the pictures will be familiar to any of us tomato gardeners…
As we say in the blogosphere, go read the whole thing.
Thanks for posting this! I really enjoyed that article, and I may try to pull some tomatoes in early for giving away more aesthetically-pleasing ones to neighbors and friends. I know it’s true about the taste because I’ve bought less-than-ripe tomatoes at our local farmer’s market, and they were fine.
However, it’s not just about the look of the finished product for me. I’m trying to get away from the gardening-as-product mentality and into the gardening-as-process reality. It’s never going to be perfect, and if you ask me, we Americans are in general way too trained to expect “perfect,” i.e. blemish-free and tasteless, produce. I grew up getting leftovers from the farmer’s market and learning to cut away the damaged parts. My mom even said things like, “Oh, well, a little extra protein,” if one of us found a worm in the corn. So maybe I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum… LOL.
Also, I couldn’t imagine giving up the pleasures of popping a cherry tomato in my mouth right then and there, as I walk the garden path. And the sight of them ripening on the plant is a significant part of my sensual garden experience. (In fact, I have a photo blog of my kitchen garden, so obviously the visual is important to me 🙂
I do a little of both. I have to say, however, that the vine ripened tomatoes taste better to me! Maybe it’s psychological (I don’t think so, nature does it so much better than we ever could!)
I’m so glad you “turned me on” to this eye-opening discussion about “vine-ripened” tomatoes. I have dutifully tried to leave my tomatoes on the vine until they seem fully ripe, but invariably end up with all of the issues noted in the “Your Small Kitchen Garden” blog.
Yesterday I harvested a number of tomatoes “early” because I knew the heavy rain was coming and I didn’t want them all to split… but I felt pretty guilty about it!
Frankly, I’m not such a “tomato-hugger” that I would notice the flavor difference anyway… I think I will play around with my ripening (finally!!) crop to find what works best for me, now that I have been given permission to do so! I am curious about the question of vitamin content though… and wonder whether the practice of cutting a length of stem along with the harvested fruit would have any impact on that.
Just what I needed… another research project!