In Oregon, Vine-Ripened Tomatoes Not Always Best

Sep 12, 2016

Good Gardening's John Fischer says because Oregon's summer nights are cool, it's better to ripen garden tomatoes indoors to get the best flavor.

Credit John Fischer

Today I'll bust an old myth, and tell you haow lto get the tastiest tomatoes out of your garden.  Here's the myth.  Vine ripened tomatoes have the best flavor.  In Oregon, vine ripened tomatoes are not as good as the ones picked pink, and ripened indoors.  (Gasps)

Credit John Fischer

In warm night Iowa, or muggy Missouri, the temperature stays above 65 degrees all night through most of the summer.  Warm nights make tomatoes sweet, and those conditions spawned the vine ripened myth- which is actually true- there.
  But when the temperature at night drops into the 50's or below, tomatoes produce starch- not sugar.  The result of cool nights is a mealy bland tomato.  Because much of our tomato crop comes on in September, when the days are warm, and the nights are cool, you need to change the weather for the final ripening of the oregon gardeners most widely grown crop.
  Fortunately, weather modification is easy for individual tomatoes.  Pick the fruit in the afternoon, and let it ripen indoors.  A dark place, with a steady temperature  above 60 degrees  works best.  The proverbial window sill is ok, but for only one reason.  You won't forget about the tomatoes if you can see them.
  Still not convinced?  Try a taste test.  Pick some tomatoes pink and let them ripen indoors.  Let others ripen on the vine.  Finally, have somebody else serve them up while you eat with your eyes closed.  I bet you'll prefer the sweet indoor flavor.  And you can open your eyes now.
  I'm John Fischer with KLCC's Good Gardening.