When to Harvest Tomatoes [The Best Time to Pick 11+ Varieties!]

There is no hard and fast rule about when to harvest tomatoes, as it depends on your climate and the type of tomatoes you are growing. Luckily – we have a few tricks and trips to ensure you harvest your tomato at the right time. No matter the cultivar!

Let’s look at when to reap some of the most popular types of tomatoes.

Sound good?

Then get your sauce pots ready!

When to Harvest Tomatoes

The best rule for harvesting tomatoes is that they’re (technically) ready to harvest as soon as they grow to their mature size. Ideally, you want them to reach their full size – and then ripen on the vine. However, you can also remove your tomatoes from the vine prematurely, and they can ripen on your kitchen counter.

Also – when harvesting tomatoes, pay close attention to your transplant date! Your transplant date determines how long your tomato plants take to mature. After transplanting, tomatoes usually take 50 to 90 days. Once your tomatoes grow to their recommended size, they are approaching harvest. (Some tomatoes are mature when they’re tiny – others grow up to a pound. Or more!)

So – it’s important to remember what type of tomato you’re growing. How large does your cultivar grow? Also – remember to keep an eye on their coloring. When they reach their final color, they’re ready for harvesting!

We also want to discuss 11 of our favorite tomato varieties in more detail.

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When are these tomatoes ready for harvesting?

Let’s look closer!

fresh organic cherry tomato plants
Tomatoes usually take anywhere from 50 to 90 days to harvest. You can safely store underripe green tomatoes for up to three weeks. Once ripe – your tomatoes store safely for around one week. We place our tomatoes on a cool dark table. Not the fridge. We find that storing tomatoes in the refrigerator negatively impacts flavor. And texture!

1. Cherry Tomatoes

We love cherry tomatoes! No vegetable garden would be complete without cherry tomatoes. These tiny little red balls of sweetness are simply delicious, and most cherry tomato varieties crop prolifically with very little care required. Definitely one to try if you are a first-time tomato grower!

When to Harvest Cherry Tomatoes

Most varieties of cherry tomatoes reach maturity 60 days after sowing. Seeds sown under cover can get planted after the last frost. They should crop from early summer through late October.

Preferred Cherry Tomato Cultivar

Sungold plants will crop an abundance of golden orange cherry tomatoes with an intensely sweet flavor. I grow Sungold every year, and at least half the crop never makes it to the kitchen. I can’t resist snacking on them straight from the plant! 

They thrive in hardiness zones three to eleven. So – odds are they will handle your climate.

Read More – How Long Do Tomatoes Take to Grow? Tomato Harvesting Guide!

2. Roma Tomatoes

Roma tomatoes are often also called plum tomatoes. This variety is perfectly-suited for cooking, canning, and preserving, as they are very fleshy with minimal juice.

They handle growing zones three through ten without worry – and leave you with an abundant and delicious crop.

When to Harvest Roma Tomatoes

For a large tomato? Roma reaches maturity relatively quickly – around 70 to 80 days after sowing in the right conditions. They will give a steady supply of tomatoes from mid-summer onwards, with the harvest starting to dwindle towards the end of September.

bright red beefsteak tomatoes growing in the garden
You can ripen your tomatoes after harvesting them! As soon as your tomatoes turn at least half-red, they are in the breaker stage. That means you can harvest tomatoes and allow them to ripen indoors. The flavor, nutrients, and quality will be as if they ripened on the vine. Less ideally, you can also harvest fully-grown tomatoes while still greenish-white. But – they will likely take longer to turn ripe. We also believe the tomatoes taste better if harvested with at least some color. But – the consensus varies!

3. Heirloom Tomatoes

An heirloom tomato is an open-pollinated, non-hybrid variety of tomato. Open pollination means the seeds remain true to type, often for centuries. With heirloom seeds? We could be growing the same types of tomatoes that our great grandparents grew!

You’ll notice a range of heirloom tomatoes available, with cherry, beefsteak, plum, and salad varieties in all shapes, sizes, and colors.

Preferred Heirloom Tomato Cultivar

There are too many heirloom tomato seeds to name. But here’s one of my favorites. Costoluto Genovese is a beautiful Italian heirloom tomato dating over 200 years old. The fruits are large with deep ridges, and the deep-red flesh is rich in flavor.

They grow without fuss in zones three through ten – so most American growers shouldn’t have problems. For short-season growers – start them indoors. Or – call a local plant nursery for some starter plants!

When to Harvest Heirloom Tomatoes

When to harvest heirloom tomatoes depends on the seed you are growing. Tinier cherry tomatoes tend to crop earlier and go on until the first frost, whereas larger tomatoes produce the bulk of their crop in late summer and early fall.

(Also – remember that determinate tomatoes usually finish growing first. Indeterminate tomatoes – which are commonly heirloom – grow consistently throughout the year.)

4. Beefsteak Tomatoes

Beefsteak tomatoes are the grandest type of tomato that’s perfect for slicing! A single fruit can be up to six inches in diameter. They also have dense, meaty flesh with few seeds. Perfect for eating in a salad, sandwich, or alongside a big fat porterhouse steak.

Preferred Beefsteak Tomato Cultivar

Marianna’s Peace bears large tomatoes that are a vibrant deep red color. The flavor is the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. They love growing in zones two through eleven – giving our homesteading friends plenty of leeways.

When to Harvest Beefsteak Tomatoes

Most beefsteak varieties need the prolonged hot sun to ripen. So these will be the last of your tomato plants ready to harvest. Expect to pick most of your beefsteak tomatoes from late summer into early fall.

5. Cherokee Purple Tomatoes

Cherokee Purple tomatoes are beefsteak-style tomatoes with intense flavor and dense, red-purple flesh. The fruits of this incredible plant can weigh more than half a pound each! They grow in zones three through ten and bear a beautiful violet or deep purple finish. You’ll love this cultivar!

When to Harvest Cherokee Purple Tomatoes

Like most beefsteak tomatoes, Cherokee purple tomatoes grow slowly. They need prolonged sunny weather to mature. They are ready to pick by late summer and will continue to crop well until early October.

6. Grape Tomatoes

Grape tomatoes are roughly the same size as cherry tomatoes but slightly oval rather than round. They are tremendously easy to grow, and each plant typically produces hundreds of tiny tomatoes. The skins are thicker than cherry tomatoes, and the fruits are not quite as sweet.

Preferred Grape Tomato Cultivar

Thai Pink Egg produces tiny rosy-pink tomatoes sweeter than many other grape tomatoes. It grows in zones three through eleven.

organic red plum tomatoes ripening on vine
If you want to master tomato harvesting – you need to know the difference between indeterminate vs. determinate tomatoes! Indeterminate tomatoes (usually cherry tomatoes and heirlooms) grow and flower throughout the entire season. The plants get massive and produce consistent tomatoes! Determinate tomatoes are the opposite – they are shorter and compact. And they only flower after the plant finishes growing.

When to Harvest Grape Tomatoes

Grape tomatoes are the gift that keeps on giving! If planted out shortly after the last spring frost, they will produce fruits within a few weeks and continue cropping until late October.

Read More – Tomato Winter Guide! What Should You Do With Tomato Plants During Winter?

7. San Marzano Tomatoes

San Marzano is a variety of plum tomato perfectly suited to cooking. The smooth, dense flesh makes the best tomato puree or paste. San Marzano tomatoes grow comfortably in growing zones three through ten.

When to Harvest San Marzano Tomatoes

San Marzano will give you a steady supply of tomatoes from mid-summer onwards until the first frosts.

green and red san marzano tomatoes growing on the vine
San Marzano are some of our favorite determinate tomatoes! They’re the best for making tasty homemade sandwiches and salads. They’re also perfect for canning and fermenting. But – their harvest takes a little longer than average. About 80 days until they’re ready to eat.

8. Early Girl Tomatoes

Early Girl tomatoes are a great choice if you have a shorter growing season, as they mature quickly. They are one of the earliest cropping salad tomato varieties. They’re best in growing zones three through eleven.

When to Harvest Early Girl Tomatoes

Mid-size plants get planted after the last frost. They should crop from early summer into late October. But – it depends on when you plant them – and when you’re expecting the final frost.

9. Black Krim Tomatoes

Black Krim tomatoes are a delightful and delicious heirloom beefsteak variety, producing large deep purple fruits. The flesh gets hugely sought after for its rich, smoky taste. They’re perfect for growing zones three through ten.

When to Harvest Black Krim Tomatoes

Black Krim tomatoes are a slow-growing cultivar and may not crop until mid to late summer. They require prolonged sunshine and warm weather, and if grown undercover, they will continue to ripen until late October.

black krim tomato on vine organic garden
Black Krim is a popular beefsteak tomato variety. They derive from the Krim island in the Black Sea. You won’t believe your eyes when you see this tomato cultivar turn black! However, these yummy tomatoes need adequate heat and sunlight to darken. Otherwise, their flesh is dark-red. Either way – they taste excellent.

10. Midnight Snack Tomatoes

We love these for midnight garden grazing – or any occasion! Midnight Snack is an indigo-type cherry tomato that ripens to red with a beautiful glossy black-purple sheen. They’re flexible and handle growing zones three through eleven without dispute.

When to Harvest Midnight Snack Tomatoes

You need to harvest your Midnight Snack tomatoes at midnight! We’re just joking. Midnight Snack tomatoes are one of the earliest-ripening cherry tomato cultivars and will crop abundantly! Look for ripe Midnight Snack tomatoes all summer long.

11. Green Tomatoes

If you’re growing a green variety of tomatoes, it can be tricky to figure out when it is ripe! Luckily, some subtle color changes can help us decide when they are ready to harvest.

Preferred Green Tomato Cultivar

Green zebra tomatoes are our favorite! The fruits of the Green Zebra tomato are green, with distinctive yellow-green stripes. They grow in zones three to ten – so you can probably grow them unless it’s tremendously cold.

When to Harvest Green Zebra Tomatoes

To check when a green tomato is ready to harvest, give it a gentle squeeze. The flesh should show a slight give, just like a red tomato.

Read More – How to Harvest Romaine Lettuce and Keep It Growing!

Tomato Harvesting FAQs

We’re sure you’re bursting with questions about when to harvest tomatoes, so we’ve got all the answers right here!

Best Tomato Seeds for a Beautiful and Bountiful Harvest

We’ve had the pleasure of harvesting tomato plant after tomato plant. Year after year!

We want to showcase our favorite tomato cultivars for unbelievable harvests.

If you’re not sure which tomato crop is best? Try some of these!

These are the same tomato varieties we love – and recommend to our homesteading friends.

Happy planting!

  1. Ace 55 Tomato Seeds | Botanical Interests
  2. Ace 55 Tomato Seeds | Botanical Interests

    Ace 55 is a breathtaking 1950s determinate heirloom with unbelievable flavor. It's a low-acid tomato plant making it ideal for canning. Expect colorful fruit five to six inches in diameter. They're also favorites if you store your tomatoes in jars. They mature in roughly 80 days and grow to about 36-inches tall.

    Get More Info

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Conclusion

We love tomatoes!

They’re the perfect crop for homesteaders all over the US – and the world.

If you have questions about harvesting tomatoes at the best time – please ask us.

We have a ton of experience harvesting, germinating, growing, and nurturing tomatoes.

We welcome your questions.

Thanks so much for reading.

Have a great day!

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