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Are Your Tomatoes Green Inside? Guide To Enjoying Them Safely

Tomatoes Green Inside

Why are tomatoes green inside? There could be any number of reasons.

For example, they could be immature. Or they are simply a green variety of tomatoes. I’ll list several reasons below. 

But first, watching my parents ply their trade in their huge gardens I remember clearly during a drought year when water was in short supply, lack of water was cited as a genuine reason why some of our tomatoes were green inside. 

Tomatoes are a colorful fruit, but they get their green color from the inside.

The chloroplasts in the plants cells convert sunlight into energy, and when the light hits chloroplasts that are colored green, it is reflected back more strongly. This is why tomatoes have a green color on the inside.

Is it something to worry about? No, not really.

Believe it or not but another situation where I found more than the usual amount of tomatoes green inside was because of too much fertilizer.

Full disclosure…okay, I’m putting my hand up. It was me and this is a classic case of learning from your mistakes. I wasn’t happy at the time.

If you buy tomatoes that are greenish inside from the supermarket don’t fuss too much about it. Today, a lot of produce is actually picked green and stored frozen until they are ready to be sold to the public.

That’s another reason why tomatoes could be green inside.

We started storing a lot of our produce green about the mid-1970s.

Tomatoes were a common fruit that was stored in a cool house until it needed to be used, either eaten or sold.

Are Tomatoes Green Inside Edible?

Are Tomatoes Green Inside EdibleSo let’s look at this in a little more detail. Yes, the tomatoes green inside are mostly edible.

That’s the good news.

It’s worth getting a better understanding of why the green appearance inside the tomato is there. Here are three reasons.

1. Unripe Tomatoes: Perhaps the most common reason for a green interior is that the tomato hasn’t fully ripened yet. Most tomatoes transition from green to red as they ripen, with any leftover green indicating the need for more ripening time. If you find yourself with an unripe tomato, simply let it sit out at room temperature until it ripens further.

2. Chlorophyll Retention: The green color in the interior of a tomato is often due to chlorophyll retention, which can result from environmental stress on the plant during the fruiting phase. This green color is okay and can be corrected as the fruit ripens after being harvested.

3. Heirloom Varieties: Some heirloom tomato varieties naturally have different hues of red, orange, and green. These tomatoes are still perfectly safe to eat, even with their unconventional appearance.

So when deciding whether to eat a green inside tomato, use your best judgment.

Consider the tomato’s overall appearance, texture, and smell. If the tomato is firm and has a slightly sweet aroma, it is likely safe to eat.

However, if it is overly soft or has an off smell, it might be best to toss it. Actually yes, toss it. It won’t be pleasant (yuck!).

Tomato Ripening Process And Factors

Tomato Ripening Process And FactorsIt was a fascination of mine watching tomatoes in my parent’s garden go from seedlings to producing magnificent fully ripe tomatoes.

The closer they came to being fully ripe, the closer it was to turning them into tomato sauce.

As Italian immigrants, the sauce-making process was a major event each year in our home. Actually, it was outside the home and usually got quite messy. So let’s look at the maturation process.

Stages of Maturation

During the ripening process, tomatoes go through several stages of maturation. Initially, they are green and firm. As they progress, the chlorophyll breaks down, and they turn red or their final color. It’s not uncommon to find tomatoes with green insides, especially if they are not fully ripened. This green color is a result of chlorophyll retention, which is primarily due to factors like environmental stress or nutrient deficiencies.

Ethylene Hormone

A crucial hormone in the ripening process is ethylene. It stimulates the breakdown of chlorophyll, softening the fruit and allowing the other pigments to become more prominent. These pigments are responsible for the red, yellow, and orange hues we associate with ripe tomatoes.

Environmental Stress

Environmental stress can impact the ripening process of your tomatoes. Factors such as temperature fluctuations, inconsistent watering, and pests can cause your tomatoes to retain their green color inside. Ripening in such situations may be uneven, resulting in tomatoes that are green on the inside but appear ripe on the outside. However, it is important to note that a bit of greening inside is still safe to eat, and the tomato will just have a slightly sharper flavor.

Potassium Deficiency

Potassium deficiency in tomato plants can lead to issues with the ripening process. It is essential for optimal growth and maturation in tomatoes.

A deficiency can cause delayed ripening, with the inside of the tomato remaining green even as the outer surface appears ripe.

Ensuring your plants receive adequate potassium can help prevent such complications and promote more uniform ripening.

A Variety Of Tomatoes Green Inside

One variety that quickly comes to mind when talking about tomatoes green inside is Green Zebras.

Weird name right? You’ll understand when you read the description.

This is my favorite green tomato that’s green inside.

Green Zebra

Green Zebra Tomatoes
Green Zebra tomatoes growing on the vine.

One interesting variety of tomatoes with green insides is the Green Zebra. This tomato variety is known for its unique appearance, featuring dark green stripes on a lighter green background. Don’t worry about the green coloration, as Green Zebra tomatoes are both flavorful and safe to eat.

These tomatoes, despite their unusual appearance, can be used just like any other tomato. You can add them to salads, and sandwiches, or even make a tasty green tomato sauce.

Just remember, when picking Green Zebra tomatoes, look for the slightly amber hue that indicates they are ripe and ready to eat.

Other Varieties Of Green Inside Tomatoes

There are many other varieties other than Green Zebras with hints of green inside. Here are four more:

Cherokee Green
Chocolate Cherry
Paul Robeson
Aunt Ruby’s German Cherry
Green Shoulder

This term refers to tomatoes that have green coloration near the stem or “shoulder” area, even when fully ripe. This can occur in many tomato varieties, including some heirloom types.

It’s important to note that the green flesh is not a sign of immaturity or inedibility. The green pigment, called chlorophyll, is responsible for the green coloration. As long as the tomato is ripe, the green shoulder is safe and delicious to eat.

When choosing Green Shoulder tomatoes, make sure to focus on the overall ripeness of the fruit. Look for tomatoes that are plump, with a smooth and slightly firm texture.

As long as the tomato feels ripe, don’t be discouraged by the green coloration around the top of the fruit – it’s still a tasty and nutritious option for all your culinary needs.

My mom always had a bowl on the kitchen counter with green tomatoes in it.

She would simply assume they weren’t fully matured and left them until they did.

Conclusion: The Taste Of Tomatoes Green Inside?

The Taste Of Tomatoes Green InsideWe haven’t really discussed the taste of tomatoes green inside. The truth is, they taste like tomatoes are supposed to taste.

I mentioned my mom would let any of her green tomatoes mature in a bowl on the counter. One thing I found is they always seemed to be juicier. But that’s just me.

To be honest, I’ve never really asked around about this. If anyone else has found this to be true, please leave some feedback below.

When you bite into a tomato that’s a little green inside, you may experience a range of flavors, including tart, sour, and acidic notes.

The taste of a tomato with green insides may vary depending on the cause and its ripeness. If the green color is simply due to the tomato not being fully ripe, it might taste a bit more tart than a fully ripe one.

In some cases, the green part is merely a result of chlorophyll retention, which doesn’t strongly affect the flavor.

When you compare the taste of fully ripe red tomatoes with green-inside tomatoes, you may notice a difference in sweetness level. As tomatoes ripen, they become sweeter due to the breakdown of starches into sugars.

So, tomatoes with green insides might have a slightly less sweet taste, accompanied by a more acidic or sour flavor. That just goes without saying.

Regardless of the reason behind the green insides, it’s important to remember that these tomatoes are still edible and delicious. They can be enjoyed in various dishes or eaten on their own, so don’t be afraid to savor the unique flavor they offer.

By understanding the ripening process, factors affecting it, and the role of potassium in plant growth, you’ll become more adept at growing and enjoying delicious, fully ripened tomatoes.

JD Dean

Growing up on a farm gave me and my family some huge advantages. One of them was learning to grow our own food. Apart from acres and acres of crops, we had a magnificent fruit and vegetable garden plus, we canned our own food. I’m hoping to pass on some of this expertise and experience to you.

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