When to pick tomatoes seems to be a very popular question. It depends on what you want and what the temperature is outside.
If you love fried green tomatoes then you can pick them when they are still green. However, when they are green they are not fully ripened so if you want a ripe tomato you will want to leave them on the plant longer so they turn red or orange and are firm but not hard.
If you live in a climate where the summer months the temperature gets extremely high (higher than 75F degrees) then your tomatoes may never turn that beautiful red but instead will be orange-ish. The reason for this is because the substance that gives the tomatoes the red color does not form if temperatures are too high.
So if you tomatoes are orangey colored then you will just want to check them for firmness. Once they are firm but not rock hard then they are ready to harvest.
Sometimes you might notice that your tomatoes split open on the vine. If this starts to happen it is perfectly fine, and you can still harvest the tomatoes and eat them. To prevent this from happening cut back on your watering. The more water the plant has the more juicy the tomatoes will be and if they get too much juice they split open.
Now, when I was younger my mom used to pick tomatoes that weren’t quite ripe and set them in a window sill to ripen. If you are expecting a freeze then this is ok to do, but the tomatoes get more flavor if they are left on the vine to ripen instead of in a window sill.
If you are expecting a freeze you should harvest all the green tomatoes you have on the vine or else the freeze will ruin them. To ripen the tomatoes you can put them all in a box next to each other but not on top of each other and place a couple ripe apples in the box with them. Close the box and leave it alone for a couple days. Then open the box and you will find that your tomatoes have ripened. The reason for this is that the apples when ripening let off a gas called ethylene that accelerates the ripening process.
If you don’t need the tomatoes to be ripe right away you can wrap the tomatoes individually in paper and store at 60F to 65F degrees. They will continue to ripen slowly over the next several weeks.
When temperatures are 90F degrees or more in the summer months you will want to harvest your tomatoes every day or two. The reason for this is because the softening process is accelerated and color development is retarded, reducing the quality when temperatures are that high. So harvest your tomatoes every day or two and allow them to finish ripening indoors.
Remember to never refrigerate your tomatoes. Cold temperatures ruin the tomatoes, hurting their flavor and texture. Store your fruit indoors with a temperature of 55F-75F degrees with their stems up to avoid bruising. Avoid direct sunlight as well.
Hopefully I have answered your question about when to harvest your tomatoes. If temperatures are right, allow the tomato to ripen fully on the vine and harvest when it is fully colored and is firm but not hard.