The First Vine Ripe Tomato

All winter you think about the first vine ripe tomato, plucked from the vine, still warm from the sun.

The First Vine Ripe Tomato

One bite and you have a mouthful of sweet, juicy goodness. You forget about the no taste, red balls that the supermarkets have been selling.

While most people eat tomatoes all  year, the taste is usually bland and the texture can be mealy. My husband and I used to live in Florida and would sometimes drive by the tomato fields in Homestead. Tomatoes were being picked rock hard green and hauled away in dump trucks. They are placed in cold storage until they are ready for packaging. They are then gassed to turn them red and shipped to your local supermarket.

We planted our heirloom tomato plants over the Memorial Day Weekend when the threat of frost was over. It is amazing how much they have grown in 10 weeks.

When people in other parts of the country are pulling their spent plants, here in Maine tomatoes are just getting started.  Some have ripened completely, others are a few days off, and a lot are still green on the vine. We will have tomatoes until the first frost which can be as early as sometime in September.

As much as I would like to keep all our tomatoes on the vine until fully ripened, it is impossible because of the ground hogs. We will enjoy the ripe ones now. The partially ripe ones will be wrapped in paper and placed in a box to finish ripening. A few that are a day or so from being ready will be placed on the windowsill in the kitchen.

We just enjoyed our first tomato, lettuce and bacon sandwich.

Making the First Tomato Sandwich

Tomato Sandwich of My Dreams

We will be eating cherry tomatoes popped right in the mouth; beefsteaks sliced, sprinkled with salt, pepper and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, pico de gallo or salsa, bruschetta, and tomato sauce. When the season is ending there will be fried green tomatoes, tomato chutney. Just remember to never refrigerate a tomato because it will hurt the flavor, nutrients and texture.

Since the season for tomatoes is so short, you never tire of eating them. I would love to know how you are using this seasons tomato of your dreams.

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About Karen

I travel the back roads of New England and beyond, sharing great food and interesting places.
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41 Responses to The First Vine Ripe Tomato

  1. Tom C says:

    Karen, you’re killing me with posts like this! ;)

  2. I LOVE tomatoes. I wish I would’ve planted some this year but we really lack in sunshine around our house. I have been relying on the Farmer’s Market for tomatoes–I have had a couple of good ones but nothing to really scream about. For all season tomato eating, I stick with Camparis. I love the flavor–wish they were bigger. But I have been using tomatoes in caprese salad and I love them sliced on buttered toast in the mornings with my over-easy eggs put on top–it is my favorite breakfast! xxBliss (oh and I love them chopped up with cucumbers and olive oil, salt, peper, fresh basil–YUM!).

  3. I adore tomatoes and could eat them everyday for the rest of my life – provided of course that they have some taste. Heirlooms are the best by far. We’ve been eating tomatoes in just about everything, including a plain tomato sandwich.
    Sam

  4. Oh what I wouldn’t give for a garden
    I know what you mean about the store bought tomatoes..but sometimes you have no choice

    • Karen says:

      Happy to hear from you. It’s hard to find a good tomato when you don’t have a garden. Marinating with lemon and olive oil helps bring out the flavor. Sorry that you were already tagged for the challenge. I left your link up for other bloggers to find you.

  5. cabinet stew says:

    YUM – I believe a tomato a day keeps the doctor away. And I list them in my top 5 fav foods!

  6. lvaletutto says:

    Hi Karen!
    Thanks for the peek at your lovely bounty of heirloom tomatoes. I would be your best friend if you left that platter on my doorstep! We have had a small crop of tomatoes this year from our garden in Germany but nothing to write home about. The tomatoes are good but the plants are dying prematurely. I’ve been noticing that everyone here seems to cover their tomato plants with a glass or plastic pane over top for some reason… maybe this is why. We have great looking tomatoes on a dying plant! Well I hope they ripen soon so I can start making mouth watering sandwiches like your BLT.
    I’m glad you talked a bit about the conditions of tomato growing in FL. It is a serious issue that hasn’t gotten much attention and most people are ignorant about the conditions that precipitated their tasteless store-bought tomato. Here is a link to a really shocking article about these tomato “factory” farms:

    http://www.gilttaste.com/stories/572-the-indignity-of-industrial-tomatoes

    Ciao,
    Laura
    BG, Germany

  7. Susan says:

    I’m STILL WAITING for that first ripe one. Ack!!
    Our nights are now dipping into the 40’s……I have a fridge full of bacon. And no tomatoes.
    You’ve just sent me over the edge—–even Maine gets tomatoes before me.

  8. Good looking tomatoes. The road side stalls, markets and, more annoyingly, my neighbours’ vegetable gardens are full of vine ripe tomatoes. This is a wonderful time of year for all tomato recipes, or just for biting into one.

  9. skoonr says:

    To me there is nothing better than picking the 1st tomato off the vine, and nothing more disappointing than picking the last one. The worst is paying $4 per pound for those non flavored things they try to pass off during the winter in the super markets. I have the past few years tended to just go without rather than face the expense and disappointment of those hybrid chunks of red and flavorless veggies.
    BTW they look delicious,
    Cheers
    Bryan

  10. Gary Lum says:

    I love fresh tomatoes. I love reading your blog.

  11. Food From Our Life says:

    This is giving me something to look forward too, firstly tomato season isn’t that far away and I must start collecting jars again to make passata & I can’t wait to have a proper garden in which to grow them, I did attempt to last summer but pots just don’t seem to cut it.
    Thankfully we can get vine ripend tomatoes here in Australia year round and I think unless you can grow your own for the most past they’re the best!

  12. Judy says:

    Tomato perfection! Wish it was warm enough here in the Rockies to grow great tomatoes like these. We rely on the farmers market, cuz you are right about what you find in the grocery stores.

  13. Wow! Those tomatoes look great! Our tomato plant has been doing great so it is fun to go outside and scope out the growing fruit. We’ve been having homemade pizza and caprese sandwiches.

  14. Karen,
    Hard to believe you are just now getting ripe tomatoes – not sure how you are able to wait until August. You’re right, our season is just about done and it was a rough one with the changeable weather we had. Yours look delicious – wish I was close by and could drop in for one of your BLT’s. I agree, heirlooms have so much to offer. Our local farmers market vendors struggle to convince folks to try them since they are marketed at about $1 more per pound. I keep telling the skeptics, you can’t imagine how tasty they are!

  15. Ann says:

    Karen – these look amazing! I bet that was the best BLT sandwich ever!

    I don’t know if you ever had a Florida “Ugly Ripe” tomato. My understanding is they are only sold here in FL and they aren’t bread for a certain shape – they just grow willy-nilly! Seriously delicious!

  16. That does look like a seriously good tomato bacon sandwich. One of my favourite combinations! Our cherry tomatoes are just beginning to ripen – I can’t wait.

  17. Such a beautiful box o’ maters! I’ve gotten exactly 3 ripe ones so far, so I’m a little envious… Can’t be long now, though!

  18. It´s magical isn´t it?! Even the smell of the tomato plants and leaves is incredible (or am I just weird?!).

  19. Monique says:

    My daughter is visiting Maine:) Lucky her!

    Thanks for the tip about wrapping the tomatoes..I will have many green ones:(

    My mom’s favorite sandwich was a fresh toasted tomato snadwich:)

  20. lulu says:

    My tomatoes, just the little ones, are ripening day by day. Only about half make it inside because I pick and eat. I’m on the way to the farmers market where I will fill in my supply and get enough for a tomato tart that I’m taking to a friend’s cocktail party tomorrow.

  21. I like to slice my tomatoes and sprinkle them with sugar. Yum! I’ve been food milling all of mine for sauce in the winter.

    Did not know that I shouldn’t be placing them in the fridge. Whoops!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Julianna, Thank you for visit and comment. Glad that I could give you the tip about not putting tomatoes in the fridge. I think you will see a difference. I have never sprinkled sugar on tomatoes although I have added a teaspoon to tomato sauce when it tastes a little acidy.

  22. ambrosiana says:

    Great post Karen! I did not know you lived in Florida!! I used to study in Miami for awhile! I would eat tomatoes year round, but as you said, tomatoes should be eaten only during summertime! As far as growing tomatoes, my husband’s parents grow tomatoes in the country house in Umbria, so I am just waiting for my mother in law to bring me some and therefore – will post a recipe about it!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you for the compliment. It’s a small world, isn’t it. We were probably there at the same time but our paths just did cross. I look forward to your recipe.

  23. Mary says:

    That box of tomatoes makes me envious. We normally grow Brandywines, but prolonged cold and wet weather prevented that this year. Your tomato sandwich set my stomach growling. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  24. Foodiewife says:

    Our garden had a ground squirrel infestation, the year we planted over 24 heirloom tomato plants. Only a handful made it. Now, we are resigned to container planting tomatoes. This year, our cherry tomatoes did well, and I love to use them in pastas or in making a corn succotash. Our larger tomato plants aren’t doing well. This has been the chilliest and greyest summer months I can ever remember– and I live in California! How fortunate you are to have such gorgeous, large tomatoes. I have to buy mine at the farmer’s market. I hear you on the anemic tomatoes. It kills me to buy them during the winter months.

  25. These look and sound fantastic — and a classic BLT is always a great way to enjoy a fresh tomato, when the quality of the ingredients really makes the sandwich. I never knew that they gassed tomatoes to make them turn red! That sounds pretty awful. We have a garden at home, so we always look forward to having home-grown tomatoes in our salads…the taste is always so much better!

    -Halie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Halie, Our first heirloom tomato always goes into a bacon sandwich. When we are planting our tomatoes, my husband is always counting the days until his first sandwich. Now it is sliced tomatoes with every meal and we have made one container of sauce. We are in heaven.

  26. Rachel says:

    My first tomatoes came and went back in July. I just put in a second crop which I am babying in the shade… we’ll see! And, I plan to try dehydrating some (if I get enough) but again, who knows! I ate the first crop pretty much out of hand, still warm from the vines. Mmmm…

  27. I’m so envious! This is the first year I’ve planted tomatoes in about 10 years and they were ruined by the stinkbugs here (at least that what was what my investigation seemed to reveal). I really savored those first few tomatoes we were able to enjoy before the plants became infested. I even got to where I was skipping the bacon on sandwiches just to taste the tomato! Yours look wonderful. Bon Appetit!

  28. Charles says:

    Ick, nothing worst than mealy tomatoes. Fantastic looking tomatoes you have there – makes me just want to grab one and cut off a big slice. Beautiful harvest and beautiful way to enjoy them… BLTs are SO good!

  29. I bought tomatoes at the farmers’ market yesterday with BLT’s in mind. There isn’t a more delicious sandwich and I wait for this all year long. Sorry to read about those pesky groundhogs. We don’t have to worry about them in my part of the country.

  30. Those tomatoes look absolutely amazing. Mine are being plundered by a field mouse, but I have been snatching them green and frying them up with breakfast in the morning. They are good that way too. Hopefully next year will be a better tomato year and I will have more pictures like yours to share.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kathleen, Thank you for your nice compliment. Sounds like you are making the best of you situation with the field mouse. Critters…they can be a real problem. We loose some tomatoes each week but with 19 plants I’m still ahead of the game.

  31. Kelly says:

    I love tomato sandwiches and this one looks so fresh and delicious!

  32. spicegirlfla says:

    Truly there is nothing better than a just picked tomato! As you know I live in Florida and chuckled at your mentioning how our tomatoes are picked so green and shipped! I personally cannot grow my own but am able to shop our local markets. A tomato sandwich on a Saturday afternoon is a very fond memory of mine from my father’s garden. No bacon tho, just toasted Italian bread, fresh tomato slices lightly drizzled with oil, salt & pepper and a few basil leaves. So wonderful!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, The description of tomatoes being picked green by the commercial growers lets people know why tomatoes from the supermarkets don’t have taste like those picked from the vine. My husband remembers his grandfather making sandwiches just like your father.

  33. YUM!!!!!

    So, so true.

    I made my first tomato cucumber salad from my garden this weekend and the fresh taste was out of this world.

  34. Wonderful! I had to pull my plants, so I’ll live vicariously through you.

  35. Pingback: I Bid A Fond Farewell To Summer As I Look Forward To Fall | Back Road Journal

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