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Updated: Jan 11

Are you a lover of fresh homegrown tomatoes?

Are you waiting patiently or maybe impatiently to eat your first ripe tomato fresh off the vine?

Tomatoes are the bee's knees of a home garden! With their beautiful color, shiny flesh, and unlimited uses in the kitchen, tomatoes are the number one home grown produce. I have heard people tell me that the taste of the fresh homegrown tomato is like taking a bite out of Heaven.

Sadly, I am not a fan of raw tomatoes. I think it has something to do with the texture. But, I love to cook tomatoes and homegrown are the best. Even though I am not a lover of raw tomatoes I know some of or most all of my readers are. That's why this installment is going to be all about the tomatoes in their purest form. I've enlisted my sister who has loved tomatoes from her first bite to help me out with the recipes below. But first, let's get to when and how to pick a tomato!

When Are My Tomatoes Ready To Pick?

I think the meaning of readiness in tomatoes is a very individual decision for gardeners and the varieties you may be growing, as not all will turn red! Tomato Dirt’s Website says there are four unique ways to tell if your tomato is ripe.

Uniform Color

This does not mean all of your tomatoes on your plant need to be a uniform color but instead that the individual tomato is a uniform color whatever it is pink, purple, yellow, orange, and red starting from the blossom into the stem. It is so tempting to pick your Tomatoes when they still have green shoulders but even though it will continue to ripen after picking, the flavor development will stop.


The only way you will teach your fingers to recognize that perfect readiness touch is to fondle lots of tomatoes and to fondle them daily. Then you will be able to feel that little give that signifies a ripe tomato!

Vine Readiness

Another sign of readiness is how easily your tomato is to pick. Most ripe tomatoes, except the extra large ones, should pull easily from the vine! If you tug and nothing happens give it a few more days. (You pick tomatoes by gently tugging with just a little twist)


When a tomato is allowed to stay on the vine until completely ready the flavor will be at its peak. This can only be tested by tasting your tomatoes and judging whether or not you should have picked earlier or later. (I would fail here, I'm glad I can still tell from the other three ways.)

Lastly, it is going to be important if the tomato you are harvesting is an indeterminate or determinate tomato. Each is going to ripen differently.

Independent tomatoes ripe individually or in clusters but not all at the same time. Which makes them perfect for all summer eating and using in the below recipes, when you only have a few.

Determinate tomatoes are going to ripen all at once. This is going to give a high-yield, which is great for when you are home processing. I will be including tips on home processing tomatoes and some canning recipes in part 2.

How To Store Fresh Tomatoes

I'm sure with the following recipes you'll be eating your tomatoes faster than your plant can produce. But, just in case you are saving a few to eat later here are some tips on storing them.

  • Don't put them in the fridge. Tomatoes don't do well in the cold.

  • Don't remove the stems

  • Lay them on a flat surface like your counter

  • Keep out of the sun

  • Lay them stock down; this will stop moisture from escaping from your fresh tomato

Fresh Tomato Recipes

The most common way I found fresh tomatoes to be used was sliced with a little salt and pepper!

  • Turn tomato on their side

  • Slice thinly with a sharp serrated knife

  • Lay in a single layer on a plate

  • Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste

The next two recipes are how my sister likes them best!

Tomato sandwich

  • Thickly sliced tomatoes (as many as you can fit)

  • Mayo

  • Your favorite sandwich bread

  • Lettuce

I think you could add bacon to this for an amazing BLT


This is my sister's favorite. I think her recipe is unique as it includes mozzarella cheese. This recipe can easily be altered to suit personal taste or the amount of ingredients on hand!

French bread, baguette, or toasted pita

3 to 4 diced tomatoes

½ cup julienned basil

1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil

1 cup diced mozzarella

Salt to taste

Toss all ingredients together (except the bread) in a bowl. Cut the French bread in half. Spoon tomato mixture on top of cut bread and enjoy!

I hope you enjoy some of these simple recipes. There are many more like pasta salads. But, remember I am not much of a raw tomato fan so these recipes are just not in my recipe book.

Till next time,

Pray, Just Plant!

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