Vegetables and Fruit 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.
Thumb of 2017-09-18/TigerZero/4fc413

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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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
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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

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
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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!

Name: Pai Mei (Google it)
Central Texas (Zone 8b)
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_TheZenMaster
Oct 20, 2021 7:30 AM CST
So, like this? Harvest now?

Thumb of 2021-10-20/_TheZenMaster/04d5b8

Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Oct 20, 2021 10:10 AM CST
They look a little green. How do they feel? Ripe tomatoes have some give, not hard as a rock.
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

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
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Name: Pai Mei (Google it)
Central Texas (Zone 8b)
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_TheZenMaster
Oct 20, 2021 10:24 AM CST
DaisyI said:They look a little green. How do they feel? Ripe tomatoes have some give, not hard as a rock.


Thanks Daisy! Hard to say how they feel because this is my first experience growing heirloom tomatoes - its not hard as a rock, but neither are the other tomatoes that haven't shown any color yet, though it is slightly softer than the green tomatoes.

I will wait a day or two and see what happens. Crossing Fingers!

[Last edited by _TheZenMaster - Oct 20, 2021 10:25 AM (+)]
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Oct 20, 2021 10:33 AM CST
They are just like any other tomato when it comes to feeling for softness/hardiness. How do you pick tomatoes out at the grocery?
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: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
Eat more tomatoes!
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gardenfish
Oct 20, 2021 10:37 AM CST
Tigerzero, I think you have picked your CPs at just the right time. CPs have a tendency to crack, and really do better if picked a little "firm" and left to ripen further inside. You could eat them at this stage, but as many others have said, wait until you cup them in your hand and give a slight squeeze, they should give a bit.
Pai Mei, pick that tomato now and leave it on your kitchen table for a day or two, then give it the squeeze test. The time to pick is right now, that's a good looking tomato!
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Mother Teresa
Name: Pai Mei (Google it)
Central Texas (Zone 8b)
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_TheZenMaster
Oct 20, 2021 10:44 AM CST
DaisyI said:How do you pick tomatoes out at the grocery?


I just kinda walk on past them and don't bother with them - they have no taste regardless of what they look or feel like! :D


[Last edited by _TheZenMaster - Oct 20, 2021 10:44 AM (+)]
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Oct 20, 2021 10:45 AM CST
Tigerzero's tomato is long dead. This thread is 4 years old, resurrected by Pai Mei. Smiling
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

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Pai Mei (Google it)
Central Texas (Zone 8b)
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_TheZenMaster
Oct 20, 2021 10:45 AM CST
gardenfish said:Pai Mei, pick that tomato now and leave it on your kitchen table for a day or two, then give it the squeeze test. The time to pick is right now, that's a good looking tomato!


Thank you - will do! Thank You!

[Last edited by _TheZenMaster - Oct 20, 2021 11:02 AM (+)]
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Oct 20, 2021 10:46 AM CST
_TheZenMaster said:

I just kinda walk on past them and don't bother with them - they have no taste regardless of what they look or feel like! :D




You will have to do some experimenting then.
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

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Pai Mei (Google it)
Central Texas (Zone 8b)
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_TheZenMaster
Oct 20, 2021 11:02 AM CST
DaisyI said:You will have to do some experimenting then.


Yes, I am learning! But at least I got one to turn color! Thumbs up

Name: Pai Mei (Google it)
Central Texas (Zone 8b)
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_TheZenMaster
Oct 20, 2021 11:04 AM CST
Here it is - not humongous but not too bad for a first Cherokee Purple from a 5-gallon bucket! :

Thumb of 2021-10-20/_TheZenMaster/fdc8a1

Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
Eat more tomatoes!
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gardenfish
Oct 20, 2021 2:57 PM CST
Not too shabby! Excellent! I tip my hat to you.
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
Mother Teresa
Name: Pai Mei (Google it)
Central Texas (Zone 8b)
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_TheZenMaster
Oct 20, 2021 3:56 PM CST
gardenfish said:Not too shabby! Excellent! I tip my hat to you.


Thank you Lynda! I tip my hat to you.

Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
Eat more tomatoes!
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gardenfish
Oct 21, 2021 1:21 AM CST
Thumbs up
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
Mother Teresa
Name: Pai Mei (Google it)
Central Texas (Zone 8b)
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_TheZenMaster
Oct 24, 2021 11:53 AM CST
Ok, I ate it. I mighta waited a day or two too long.

Real nice tomato flavor not tangy but not sweet either; kinda right in the middle - very meaty and few seeds. MUCH better than any tomato I ever bought from a supermarket.

Some of the tomatoes still on the plants are impressing me with their size! Cooler nights soon should get them to start changing color. I can't wait for more - I want an inch of thin tomato slices on a tomato sandwich! :D

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