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Tomato Mania - Harvesting, Storage, and Use

Tree Branch

Every tomato lover begins to drool as soon as the first tiny green tomato appears on the vine. The wait is unbearable. So, when harvest day first arrives, the feeling is indescribable. At first, one tomato is ripe. Then, a couple. Finally mid-season arrives with an abundance of fruit.


Pick tomatoes as soon as they are completely red. Do not let them get overripe on the vine, as they can split or rot. Tomatoes can be picked just before they are completely ripe. They will ripen in a sunny window.

When picking in advance of a frost or freeze, green tomatoes can be picked and stored away. Clean them in a solution of water with a little bleach, to kill any bacteria on the surface.


Canning tomatoes is very popular. You can use cut up tomatoes, sauce, paste, and tomato juice. We can up to 100 quarts a year. While it's a big task and consumes many hours of work, the reward comes in the winter, long after the snow is covering the garden.

Canning is practiced by millions of gardeners. But, it is extremely important to follow safe canning practices. We recommend you stay current with USDSA guidelines for safe canning.

For more information, see our canning page.



A friend of mine freezes a dozen or so whole tomatoes each fall. When it comes time for a winter salad, she takes a tomato out of the refrigerator, and lets it partially defrost. She then "chips" it into a salad. While the texture is not the same, the taste is.

Most people cook tomatoes into a sauce or paste before freezing. Tomato sauce and paste freezes well.


Storing Fresh

Long keeper varieties store well over the winter months. Green tomatoes can be stored for several weeks. They will ripen when brought into the sunlight of a window. Clean tomatoes using a light solution of water and bleach. Dry, and store in a cool, dry place. Keep tomatoes from touching. If one goes, bad, discard it immediately.

Tree Branch


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