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Why Do Tomatoes On The Vine Taste Better – Here’s The Facts

There have been many questions regarding the origin of the flavor present in fresh tomatoes. Many people believe this flavor stems from the tomato plant’s vine. So, they always allow their tomato fruits remain on their vines until they ripen before harvesting.

Although many people believe tomatoes with the best taste are from the vine, some say it is a myth. However, you are about to find out if you believe the flavor of tomatoes stemming from the vine is a scientifically proven fact or myth. But before we dive directly into it, let’s talk about the facts & myths about the taste of vine-ripened tomatoes. 

Fact & Myth Taste Of Vine-Ripened Tomatoes 

There is a thin line between the fact and myths surrounding tomatoes’ taste. Generally, the taste of the tomatoes you will get from the store is often faint and contain little or no flavor.

The lack of flavor is mainly because stores often purchase their tomatoes when they are still green. Hence, many people prefer to purchase their tomatoes from farmers who grow the fruits.

The tomatoes you will get from those who grow them often taste better than the store’s; hence, most people believe that only vine-ripened tomatoes taste good.

Meanwhile, this idea is not a fact but a myth because you can skip the vine-ripening stage of the tomatoes by harvesting them at the breaker ripening stage. It is unclear now, but you will understand better once you are familiar with the ripening process of tomatoes. 

Ripening Process Of Tomatoes

To understand how to get garden tomatoes with good flavors, you must understand the tomatoes’ gardening process (growing and ripening). The process involves four stages; 

  • Pollination
  • Growing Fruit stage
  • Breaker stage
  • Fully ripe stage


Pollination is the first stage that involves seed formation by transferring pollen grains from the anther to the stigma. Tomatoes exhibit self-pollination because they have both male and female parts. 

Growing Fruit Stage

The fruit (tomatoes) begin to develop into a large size after pollination. As the fruit is developing, so are the seeds. At this stage, the inner and outer parts of the fruit will be green. The growing stage of tomatoes usually lasts for about forty to fifty days.

At the end of this stage, the fruit will start producing ethylene, a fruit-ripening hormone to initiate the fruit’s ripening process. Furthermore, the fruit will also stop developing in size at the end of this stage, and the deep green color on the outside will become pale. This stage is also called the ‘mature green stage.’ 

Breaker Stage 

A few days after the mature green stage, the fruit will begin its ripening process. There is, however, not a particular time because it depends on the size and variety of the fruit.

Smaller sizes go faster and vice-versa. This stage is evident because you will be able to observe the changes visually. The color of the tomatoes in this stage will appear to be pinkish internally and externally. This stage ends when the pink coloration on the fruit is definite.

Fully Ripe Stage

There will be an increase in the production of ethylene, the fruit ripening hormone, to speed up the process of ripening. This process will take about three to seven days to complete. Lastly, this stage does necessarily need to occur in the plant. 

Tips To Grow More Flavorful Tomatoes 

  • Make the soil you will be using to cultivate your tomatoes healthy by enriching the soil with compost weekly. You can also supply the soil with essential nutrients by enriching it with tomato tones.
  • Get rid of damaged plants and any fruit that has any leathery patches. 
  • Water the tomato plants frequently and ensure the soil is always moist, especially during hot weather. 
  • Mulch the tomato plants to blockade weeds, protect the fruits, and save water. However, you should leave at least two inches of space around the stem to ensure the root gets an adequate water supply.
  • Sunlight aids plants with photosynthesis, but frequent exposure to hot sun will make the fruit have leathery patches and sunscald. Hence, always cover the plants to protect them from the hot sun. 

When Is The Best Time Or Stage To Harvest Tomatoes?

Generally, leaving tomatoes on the vine to ripen usually tastes better. Meanwhile, it does not necessarily mean a flavorful harvest is limited to only vine-ripened tomatoes.

When does a tomato obtain its optimum flavor? The optimum flavor in tomatoes happens when they are in the fully ripening stage. The tomatoes are usually red in this stage, and this stage does not necessarily need to happen on the plant. 

The breaker stage is the best harvesting time for tomatoes rather than leaving the fruits to ripen on the vine. No sugar or nutrient enters the tomato, but ethylene production at this stage. Hence, leaving it on the plant is of no value. You can, however, ripen the tomato off the vine without causing any loss of quality, nutrition, and flavor.

Furthermore, harvesting the tomato at the breaker stage offers essential benefits. If left to ripen on the vine, the tomato will be exposed to insects and birds attack.

You can, however, increase the ripening process by storing the fruit in a warm condition. Therefore, if you harvest your tomato at the breaker stage and store it in a warm condition, it will have the same flavor as letting it ripen on the vine. 

Tomatoes Varieties That Tend To Have More Flavor 

  • Black Krim Tomato
  • Aunt Ruby German Green Tomato
  • Brandywine Tomato
  • Ferris Wheel Tomato 
  • German Red Strawberry Tomato
  • Cherokee Purple Tomato
  • Great White Tomato
  • Paul Robeson Tomato
  • Georgia Streak Tomato 
  • Glamour Tomato

How To Speed Up The Ripening Process Of Tomato?

Generally, you can speed up the ripening process of tomatoes by placing them in a bag or box containing ripe bananas or apples. The ripe fruits will produce their own fruit-ripening ethylene gas, which will fill the box and speed up the ripening of the tomatoes. 

Ethylene is often used commercially to increase the ripening process of fruits. The tomatoes you find in stores (commercial tomatoes) are usually harvested before or during the mature green stage and treated with ethylene to make them ripe quickly.

Meanwhile, speeding up the ripening process of tomatoes before the breaker stage usually results in fruits without flavor. That is why the tomatoes you will find in stores don’t taste good. However, too much artificial ethylene can also alter the flavor of the tomato.

Hence, it is advisable to harvest your tomatoes at the breaker stage and use ripe fruits to ripen them to get flavorful tomatoes. 

In Summary 

The harvesting of vine-ripe tomatoes may taste great, but it does not define a flavorful harvest. Tomatoes usually develop their optimum flavor when they are in the fully ripe stage, and this does not necessarily have to happen on the plant (vine).

You can also harvest the fruits during the breaker stage and take them inside to become ripe. The time it will take these tomatoes to ripen will be faster than those left on the vine, and they will both taste the same—flavorful. 

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