Ripen Tomatoes Off The Vine


There is nothing better than a delicious tomato that is full of flavor picked right off the vine right? Wrong, there is another way.

Did you know that once a tomato starts to blush it can be picked off the vine and brought into the house to finish turning red on the counter? That way the bugs and weather can’t ruin them.

I picked these tomatoes before they were red, but I could have picked them even earlier. Once the fruit begins to blush they are technically at the peak of ripeness, as far as the flavor goes, and they won’t grow any bigger.

Tomatoes produce a gas called Ethylene. When the tomato is fully mature and still green, this gas starts the process of turning a fully mature green tomato soft and red.

Ever notice how the tomatoes that are sold in the store taste so blah? That is because they pick the tomatoes when they are still green, not fully mature and not at the peak of mature flavor. That way they can pack them and ship them, sometimes for weeks at a time, while they are still solid without getting squished so easily. They spray Ethylene gas on them to start the process of the tomatoes turning red on the outside but they still won’t get soft or have anymore flavor on the inside. That’s also why, when you cut them, they are hard and the inside is not very ripe.

Now you know why you can buy “vine ripened tomatoes” in the store and why they taste so much better than the other tomatoes. So go ahead and enjoy your tomatoes, whichever way you get them, but hopefully at the peak of flavor.


  1. Did you know that Italians call tomatoes; we say tomatoes, love apples no wonder they are blushing, having read your blog, I am too.

  2. That’s exactly what I did today Diane….picked three pale big beefsteak tomatoes and brought them into the house to ripen, as all the red ones were full of worm holes! I made a batch of your watermelon-lemonade tonight and it is chilling in the fridge for tomorrow.

  3. Wow thanks for sharing this tip. We are growing cherry tomatoes here at home, and you are right they tasted better. We will let them ripe first before picking. 🙂 And those shapes of tomatoes on the photo are soo cute.

  4. Now, if only I had a garden. No land and 4 X 6 balcony facing NE but I’ve got plans! Is it possible to post a pic of the
    same tomatoes in all their red glory? How long should it take for them to ripen on the counter, Any type counter? I normally place the ‘blah’ unripened ones from the grocers (because I don’t want to be the one to bruise them either) on top of my fridge. I thought I read somewhere that the warmth speeds up the redening process? (Apartment size fridge in a full-size fridge wall opening means I have a shelf above fridge and I’m tall. 🙂

    • Any counter will do once the start to turn. You don’t need heat but at least that gets them out of the It only tales a few days for the garden tomatoes to turn.

  5. Thanks for the info. I knew what the growers do for shipping, but I didn’t know they would ripen at home if you pick them after first blush.

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