While you can grow different tomato varieties, having at least a shrub of cherry tomatoes is a must.
These bite-sized tomatoes may be small, but they are packed with nutrients and flavor.
Can you think of a more delightful experience than biting into a freshly picked tomato?
When to harvest cherry tomatoes? Cherry tomatoes start as green and turn to red, purple, yellow, or orange, depending on the variety, when they are ripe. You will notice this change around 50 to 70 days after planting. This color change is your go-signal to harvest these delicious fruits.
How Do You Know When Your Cherry Tomatoes Are Ready to Harvest?
Harvesting tomatoes is easy. The hard part is knowing when to harvest them.
Here is a list of signs you can reliably use to identify if your cherry tomatoes are ripe and ready to harvest.
1. Refer to the crop’s days to maturity.
One sure-fire way to determine if your cherry tomatoes are ready to harvest is to time their maturity.
As mentioned, the amount of time for cherry tomatoes to mature is about 50 to 70 days.
You will see your cherry tomato’s estimated days to maturity at its seed packet.
Your cherry tomatoes will begin to ripen as their days to maturity come close.
2. Notice the changes in color.
Another indicator of a cherry tomato’s ripeness is its skin color.
Cherry tomatoes start as green and turn into red, purple, yellow, or even black, depending on the variety.
It is easy to identify if a red cherry tomato has that deep, mature color. However, it is a bit harder to identify ripeness on yellow, purple, and black varieties.
With experience, you will be able to determine the ripeness of cherry tomatoes by looking at their color.
3. Measure the cherry tomato’s firmness.
Color is the most obvious indicator of a cherry tomato’s ripeness but being able to touch and feel how firm the fruit is is also important.
When you touch an unripe cherry tomato, you can feel that it is very firm, even when you press the skin gently.
On the other hand, overly ripe cherry tomato is extremely soft.
A ripe cherry tomato should be somewhat firm but gives in a little when you press the skin gently with your fingers.
4. Smell the cherry tomato fruits.
Another indicator of a cherry tomato is ripe is its scent. Compared to the dull scent of an unripe cherry tomato, a ripe one will boast a lovely fragrance.
If you think that your tomatoes are ready to harvest, smell them. Cherry tomatoes will tell you if it’s ripe through their scent.
Be careful not to confuse the vines’ scent with the cherry tomato fruit’s scent. The vines have a strong and distinctive scent.
5. Lightly tug on the fruits.
Another easy way to tell if your cherry tomatoes are ready to harvest is if they are almost effortless to pick off the vines.
Although most gardeners do not commonly do this because it may damage the plant and the fruit, it is still a reliable indicator.
Only use this method if you’ve checked for the other indicators and still cannot determine if they are ready to harvest.
Give your cherry tomato a gentle tug, and if it does not slip away easily from the plant, it is not yet ready to harvest.
6. Observe the weather.
You should always factor in the weather when deciding when to harvest your cherry tomatoes.
Heavy rain followed by dry weather will most likely harm your cherry tomatoes, causing splits and cracks.
Unripe fruits are typically safe from splits and cracks, while the almost ripe and ripe ones are damaged.
Split and cracked fruits are prone to spoilage and invite critters and pests.
You need to harvest almost-ripe tomatoes before any deep watering or heavy rain to avoid having split and cracked fruits.
You should also always keep your eyes on the weather forecast to know if there is any threat of frosts.
Cooler weather will derail the cherry tomatoes’ ripening, and frost will harm both the fruits and the cherry tomato plants.
If forecasts say there is a threat of frost or dips in temperature, you need to harvest all your cherry tomatoes.
Fully unripe tomatoes will not ripen well in a basket, so use them to make fried green cherry tomatoes or make relish instead.
You can place partially ripe and almost-ripe tomatoes in a box or basket and wait for them to fully ripen indoors.
What Happens if You Don’t Harvest Cherry Tomatoes?
It is very important to pick tomatoes as soon as they are ripe.
You do not want to leave them hanging on the vines for too long after they are ripe.
The longer they stay on the vines after they are ripe, the less flavor you will enjoy when you finally harvest them.
Cherry tomatoes are also prone to cracking and splitting when left too long on the vines. Again, this will invite large critters and pest insects to munch on them.
You will also expose them to chill and frost the longer you leave them unpicked.
Chilly weather will cause the cherry tomatoes to lose their flavor, while frost will straight up harm your fruits and your cherry tomato plants.
How To Harvest Cherry Tomatoes?
Now that you know how to identify if your cherry tomatoes are ripe, the next step is to learn how to harvest them and how to do it best.
Cherry tomatoes are very prolific that you’ll barely be able to breathe during peak season.
Step 1: Regularly check your plants during peak season.
What you need to do is check your tomato plants every day and pick all ripe and almost ripe cherry tomatoes.
You will see these garden candies in trusses—fruits per truss range from six to 12.
The tricky part is that these fruits will not ripen at once, so you should not wait for the whole truss to change colors before you start picking.
Waiting for the bottom fruits on the truss to be fully ripe will only harm the top ones, as they will most likely crack or split.
You need to pick each fruit individually as soon as you see them turn their ripe color.
Step 2: Pick your cherry tomatoes by hand.
Gently hold your ripe cherry tomato in your hand and give it a twist. It should snap away from the stem if it is ripe.
Be careful not to squeeze the cherry tomato too hard. A little too much force can damage these garden candies.
Step 3: If they do not snap off easily, use pruning shears to cut off the vine.
Cherry tomatoes usually will snap off the stem with just a gentle tug.
However, if you find it hard to pick them by hand, you can always use a pair of pruning shears to do the job.
Step 4: Pick your cherry tomatoes early if they are splitting or cracking.
You may have to harvest your cherry tomatoes early if they are showing signs of cracking and splitting.
If your fruits are already beginning to change color and ripen, there is no problem with allowing them to ripen in a basket or a box indoors.
However, there may be a slight difference in flavor if your cherry tomatoes are ripened off the vine compared to if they are ripened on the vine.
Step 5: Harvest your cherry tomatoes before the first frost.
It is important to harvest your cherry tomatoes before the first frost.
Frost damages both the plant and the fruits, leaving you with nothing once frost hits.
If your cherry tomatoes are not yet ripe, you can pull up the entire plant by its roots and place it inside.
Wait for the cherry tomatoes to ripen and pick them as soon as they do.
Should You Wash Cherry Tomatoes After Harvesting?
You can wash your cherry tomatoes after picking them, but make sure they are dried before putting them in storage.
Use a clean piece of cloth to dry each one, and don’t stack them on top of each other to keep them fresh longer.
It is also important that you store them in a place with good air circulation to promote ample ventilation.
Can You Eat Cherry Tomatoes Immediately After Harvesting?
You can eat cherry tomatoes fresh off the vines, assuming they are ripe. In fact, it is the best way to enjoy a cherry tomato.
If they are still unripe, it would be best to wait a few more days to let them ripen. This way, you can maximize their flavor.
Is Growing Cherry Tomatoes Worth It?
Cherry tomatoes are the best garden candies that are worth growing in your garden.
They are delightful as a snack and will add a touch of freshness when mixed into a salad or put into sweet and savory dishes.
Growing your own cherry tomatoes is an extremely rewarding venture, especially as you harvest their fruits.
Besides, it’s not like harvesting cherry tomatoes is hard; it is actually one of the easiest crops to harvest.