Cherokee heirloom tomatoes are more commonly known as the Cherokee purple tomato. These tomatoes are sweet, large and characterized by their deep purple color. Heirloom tomatoes generally taste better and offer a range of flavors, but they are more prone to disease and cracking. Harvesting these tomatoes at their peak of ripeness will prevent them from cracking and rotting in the garden. Harvesting tomatoes before any chance of frost is also key to making the most of your tomato bounty.
Determine which tomatoes are ripe by looking at color, size and how they feel. Cherokee tomatoes will be a deep reddish to purple color, large (around 1 lb.) and firm to the touch.
Harvest ripe fruit--use a knife or garden shears to cut the tomato stem from the plant.
Handle the tomato carefully so as not to bruise the fruit. Do not place tomatoes on top of each other, but lay them side by side in a container.
Place tomatoes on the counter if you plan to use them within a few days. Placing tomatoes in the refrigerator will make them less sweet.
Place tomatoes that you will not use within a few days, but plan to use in the next week, in the refrigerator.
Freeze excess tomatoes that you are not able to use within a week.
Leave unripened tomatoes on the vine to ripen unless there is a chance of frost. Pick unripened tomatoes at the end of the season and place on a counter top, preferably in a sunny location, or in a brown paper bag to ripen.