The Best Time to Pick Tomatoes Is Earlier Than You Think: Here's Why

When's the best time to pick a tomato? It's reasonable to assume you should wait for the fruit to turn fully red and ripe on the vine.

But to tell the truth, it isn't necessarily the best time if you're looking for the highest quality fruit.

And I’ll explain why (along with my advice for when you should pick tomatoes if you want peak flavor, nutrition, and quality).

Looking at the chart, it’s clear that the best time to pick a tomato is in the “red” stage, as that’s when the color is deepest, the sugar content is highest, and the flesh is perfectly juicy.

But did you know that you don’t need to reach this stage on the vine?! Contrary to popular belief, a homegrown vine-ripened tomato isn’t superior to a homegrown indoor-ripened tomato.

Our own psychological biases may have us think otherwise, but as long as a green tomato is mature (grown to full size), it doesn’t matter if it ripens indoors or outdoors.

That said, a mature green tomato has the best chances of ripening if it’s at least picked in the “breakers” stage, as sometimes it’s hard to tell when a green tomato is fully grown.

But unless you’re trying to beat the first frost, you can let your tomatoes continue developing into the “turning,” “pink,” or “light red” stage before you harvest them to finish ripening inside.

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