When is it ripe?

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Organic Gardening, Sept-Oct, 1994.

Tomatoes: ". . . A tomato's sugar and acid content (the primary components of its flavor) decrease if you let the fruit hang on the vine after it reaches the red stage. {Old Git's note: I'll say they do! The varmints eat 'em right after they start to turn color. I have to pick tomatoes when they've just got that first blush of pink.] To get the most flavorful tomatoes. . . you should pick them just as they begin to change from orange to red and then keep them at 59-70F in normal room light (no sunny widnowsills!) for four to five days until they finish ripening to full red.

NEVER put tomatoes in the refrigerator. Temperatures below 50F change the aroma volatiles that are also major components of a tomato's flavor. . . .

Melons, bell peppers, corn, lots more coming up later.

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), May 04, 1999


Melons - Cantaloupes and most other melons TELL you when they're ready to be picked. . . You'll see a particularly long stem with a small leaf on it where the vine joins the melon. . . When the melon is ripe, that leaf will be paler than all the other leaves on the vine.

Most melons are referred to as "slip-type" melons by growers because the melon separates (slips") from the vine as it ripens. Most of the melons you see in supermarkets are picked at the "quarter-slip" stage--when the contact point between the vine and the melon is a quarter of the way dried. . . . Home gardeners, however, should wait until their melons reach the "full-slip" stage. . . . A melon is at full slip when the contact between melon and vine is completely dried and the melon lifts away from the vine without any tugging.

Bell Peppers - . . . Red or yellow (or orange. . .) peppers are much sweeter and immensely more nutritious than immature green ones. . . . But what if frost is fast approaching and full color is an impossible dream? Wait to pick as long as possible. . . . Most pepper varieties will lose some of their underripe bitter taste when they reach full size, become smooth, and change from light green to dark green. . . .

Corn - . . . ready to eat when the silks have dried to within a half-inch of the tips of the ears and the kernels in the third full row down from the top squirt a milky (rather than clear) juice when pressed with your thumb.

Beans - . . . Start picking your patch when the bean seeds just begin to show throughh the first few pods. . . and then pick every other day after that to make sure that no beans get too mature. . . . And pick those string beans first thing in the morning. . . If you wait until afternoon or evening, you may get soft, limp beans.

(Carrots, cucumbers, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and more later.)

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), May 04, 1999.

Sorry took so long to get these to you. House is still on market, two showings today, must rush!

Peas - Pick your peas BEFORE the top of the pod dries out comnpeltely. . . The pod should look fat and the stem end will have a few small, white flakes or a light powdery coating on it. This is a signal that the pods' skin is just starting to dry.

Open a few pods--if the peas are small and irregularly shaped, they're not ready yet. When plump and nicely round--perfect.

Carrots - A carrot's color is the best way to know when it's ripe--if it's pale orange, it'll be sweet enough. Scratch a bit of soil away around the top of one side of the carrot to see.

Cucumbers - The best measure of a ripe cuke is its size. . . pick when about 6" long and firm; picklers get picked at about 5". If you see yellow on them at all, you've missed the boat.

Potatoes - Three weeks after the flowers appear, there will be tasty taters underground--these are the tender little spuds called new potatoes. For big potatoes, wait until the above-ground growth dies back at the end of the season. Be careful digging them up--wounded taters don't store. If you happen to wound a few, keep them in a full jar of water in the fridge until you can eat them.

Broccoli and Cauliflower - Pick when heads are still tight and hard--rock hard for cauliflower. If you're not going to cook right away, keep in fridge with stem end in water until ready to use--will keep in good eating condition for at least a week.

Brussels sprouts - Hot weather gives sprouts a mustardy taste until they've been through a frost or two. Pick after cold air has sweetened them up.

Squash - Wait until skin is fully colored and stem begins to turn brown instead of green--buttercup types will turn dark green all over when nearly ready to be picked. Once fully mature, remove from vine and cure for month or so before eating. Put in cool , dark place where they can finish ripening and sweetening up.


Typed by

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), May 08, 1999.

Watermelon--. . .There is a tendril--the little pigtail like thing--right where the stem of the melon joins the vine. . . When that tendril withers, the watermelon is ripe. You can tap, thumpo, try all your other tricks, but until that tendril dries out the watermelon is not ready. . . .

Peach--. . . Peaches ripen from the bottom toward the stem and from the smooth side to the split side. . . . Therefore, test each peach for ripeness by gently pressing on one of the two upper shoulders of the split or crease. If it gives a little the peach is ripe.

Black-, rasp- and blueberries--Blackberries and raspebrries are ripe when they pop off the vine easily. . . Blackberries come off with the core intact and raspberries pull away from the core. If you have to tug the berry off, don't pull harder--leave it; it's not ripe (or sweet) yet. . . . You'll harvest riper blueberries if you take the time to pick only those that are totally blue--don't pick any that have even tiny green spots.

Gtrapes--your grapes are ripe when they are fully colored--AND intesnely aromatic in the case of some varieties, such as Niagara. If you're growing grapes that have a fragrance you'll know when they're ripe before you get within ten feet of them. . . . Snip each cluster where its stem is attached to the vine. . . hang clusters by their stems in a cool, dark place that has good air circulation and moderate humidity. Some varieties, like Lakemont, can be stored for five to six months this way, and most will keep a couple of months.

There's some more (apples, strawberries, cherries) but it's a busy day today--later.

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), May 10, 1999.

Apples--. . . You should pick your apples just after the skin LOSES its shine. . . that's when the taste becoems perfectly balance.

Strawberries--A ripe strawberry is a dark red strawberry. . . wait until the berries are bright red, then give them one more day to turn DARK red. . . . Check the underside of each berry before picking to make sure it's ripened clear through. . . . Visit the patch every other day and pick all the berries that are completely ripe on each visit.

Cherries--Don't judge a cherry by its color. . . gently press the fruit with your thumb. If they're hard, wait a few more days until they get plumper and softer.

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), May 10, 1999.

To the top for newbies and those who forgot to save it!

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), June 26, 1999.

I need to repeat an often heard refrain here on the board: Thank you Old Git !!!

This is the kind of stuff I come here for. Sad that it is becoming less frequent week after week. We need more Old Gits.

And while not exactly a newbie, I did miss this the first time around.


-- Got seeds?

-- Greybear (greybear@home.com), June 26, 1999.

Going up!

-- && (&&@&&.&), June 30, 1999.

Great info Git. And Buddy says this forum has become useless!!

-- a (a@a.a), June 30, 1999.

thanks old git!! We've had so much rain around here this spring/ early summer that my tomatoes have not started turning yet..the vines are about to take over! The first few hot dry days & we will be covered up with tomatoes. This year I'm trying a "Mama Mia" paste tomato; also roma, celebrity, and champion. My Burgandy okra is bearing heavily now(turns green when cooking it). I saved seed from this last year and this year the germination rate was great. Hope you have time to keep the tips coming!!!

-- jeanne (jeanne@hurry.now), July 01, 1999.

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