Love at first blush

I know a lot of you tomatoheads are eying those green tomatoes and wondering when you’ll get to make that first BLT.

The whole “vine ripened” concept is a bit confusing.  Some people say that tomatoes should be left on the vine until they are fully ripened to achieve maximum flavor…I disagree with this statement.  Leaving a tomato on the vine until it is fully ripe leaves it exposed to several potential problems.

  • With these heavy rains we are having, a ripening tomato could crack and split from excessive moisture.
  • Ripe tomatoes are magnets for critters such as squirrels and birds.
  • Some varieties of tomatoes tend to drop their fruit when ripe…a dropped tomato is a damaged tomato
  • Heavy fruit load could cause vines to break causing loss of other fruits not yet ripe.
  • Ripe tomatoes are also magnets for unscrupulous neighbors that might take advantage of the situation

The reason a lot of people are concerned about “vine ripened” fruit is that a lot of commercial growers actually pick their fruits green. A green tomato is easier to ship and less likely to bruise or rot.  When they are ready to sell the tomatoes, they gas them with ethylene to force ripening.  This results in a pretty, unblemished tomato that has way less flavor.

With that being said…pick at first blush! As soon as a tomato shows any sign of turning the color it’s supposed to be (red, yellow, purple, orange, etc..) pick it and bring it in the house.  Place the tomatoes on a towel or in a shallow dish or bowl on the counter or table and in a few days it will ripen nicely. Don’t stack them on top of each other or they might bruise.  Also NEVER PUT TOMATOES IN THE REFRIGERATOR!!! Refrigeration ruins tomato flavor.  Keep them at room temperature like a fine red wine.

If you get more tomatoes than you can eat fresh, don’t be afraid to core them and put them in a ziplock freezer bag and toss in the deep freeze.  This is a quick way to preserve tomatoes for using in sauces, soups, stews, and chili later in the year.  The frozen tomatoes lose their texture, but keep a good flavor that is perfect for saucy dishes.

Stay tuned and I’ll show you how to preserve tomatoes by canning.  It’s not that difficult and is the best way to preserve lots of tomatoes and retain their texture and flavor.  I’ll be canning later this month once those romas get ripe!

A month from tomorrow is the 2nd annual KCTTTT!  I’ve got some great prizes to give away and we’re having three contests this year.  Read all about them at Tomatoville!


  1. A picture of what you mean by ‘at first blush’ would be helpful. I’ve seen some color change in one of my KB’s and the earliest cluster of Gigant Pelinas, but I’m not sure I’d call it a blush.

    • huntoften said

      First Blush is any color change from the original green. Most fruits will go from their darker green to a brighter whitish green, then will start to show color of whatever they are going to turn to. As soon a a fruit looks like anything other than green, I pick it and bring it in the house. You can leave them on the vine as long as you want, but I err on the safe side and bring them in as soon as they show any color. I’ll try and get some pics tomorrow to clarify further.

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