Ask a Question forum: When to harvest Cherokee Purple Tomatoes?

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Ruckersville, VA
TigerZero
Sep 18, 2017 5:35 PM CST
All my past tomato growing experience have been with tomatoes like the Celebrity or Bestboy variety. This year is my first attempt at the Cherokee Purple variety. I bought a greenhouse produced plant of the Cherokee. I had read it had a long maturing rate and wanted them mature around late July.. But disaster struck. Something nibbled the top leaves and blossoms off. I did have one from that plant already developing and picked it in mid July. The same disaster hit the Celebrity next to it. Nibbled. I took measures to protect the plants, They both recovered spectacularly. But!!!! It's mid September and they are a lot of tomatoes still green.

I can see the development has slowed a lot due to the change of season here in Va. Some of the tomatoes on both plants started changing color from full green a week ago. I'm mostly concerned with the Cherokee Purple. It is not following what I see in pictures. My instincts told me to pull the few small ones now. The colors on them range from a dark green at the tops to a sort of dark brown/green/red over the rest. I think they need to rest on the counter for several day to ripen more.

If you could post a pic of a Cherokee that is on the plant ripe to pick would be a big help. I'll try to post a pic of the ones I pulled next to a standard red tomato for reference.

Thank you.
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Sep 18, 2017 6:52 PM CST
I can't post a photo because I can't grow them here in Reno (the season is too short). In CA, Cherokee Purples were my all time favorite tomato.

But I can tell you that if you grow enough tomatoes, you can tell by the feel without ever seeing the color. Squeeze gently. A green tomatoe will be hard as a rock, a ripe tomato will have a little give, an overripe tomato will be soft.

You can ripen tomatoes on the counter but they have to be almost ripe for this to work. Hope this helps.
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Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
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Weedwhacker
Sep 18, 2017 9:33 PM CST
I agree with Daisy -- for some of the tomatoes you just have to go by "feel." If it feels hard, then it isn't ripe (but if it looks like it "might be ripe," then you can pick it and let it ripen indoors). If it has a little "give," then pick it and use it soon, before it gets overripe.

Tomatoes can be such tricky little devils, especially the heirloom types!
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Sep 18, 2017 9:40 PM CST
One year, I grew one called "Granny Smith". Never again. I don't thing I picked a ripe tomato for the entire season!
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Sep 19, 2017 9:28 AM CST
TigerZero said:All my past tomato growing experience have been with tomatoes like the Celebrity or Bestboy variety. This year is my first attempt at the Cherokee Purple variety. I bought a greenhouse produced plant of the Cherokee. I had read it had a long maturing rate and wanted them mature around late July.. But disaster struck. Something nibbled the top leaves and blossoms off. I did have one from that plant already developing and picked it in mid July. The same disaster hit the Celebrity next to it. Nibbled. I took measures to protect the plants, They both recovered spectacularly. But!!!! It's mid September and they are a lot of tomatoes still green.

I can see the development has slowed a lot due to the change of season here in Va. Some of the tomatoes on both plants started changing color from full green a week ago. I'm mostly concerned with the Cherokee Purple. It is not following what I see in pictures. My instincts told me to pull the few small ones now. The colors on them range from a dark green at the tops to a sort of dark brown/green/red over the rest. I think they need to rest on the counter for several day to ripen more.

If you could post a pic of a Cherokee that is on the plant ripe to pick would be a big help. I'll try to post a pic of the ones I pulled next to a standard red tomato for reference.

Thank you.
Thumb of 2017-09-18/TigerZero/4fc413



I've been growing Cherokee Purple for years and consider it the best-tasting tomato ever. But it is tricky.

The one on the left looks wonderful but might ripen more a couple days on the kitchen counter out of direct sunlight.

The one on the bottom looks most common with the surface scar and is probably ripe. I just cut the scars off.

The "feel" is odd with Cherokee Purple. When they feel ripe compared to other heirloom tomatoes, they are slightly past their prime.

I drove myself nuts the first few years waiting too long to see the tops turn "purple" and the "feel" right. The name fools you. They are ripe when the tops look deep green and the bottoms are purplish.

It does take some experience with those, but when you learn to pick them at the right time, O...M...G!

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