Why Red Tomatoes Are Green Inside

Why Red Tomatoes Are Green Inside

If you are a grower of tomatoes (and what self-respecting gardener isn’t?), you know that there are any number of issues that can plague this fruit. Some of these we can combat and some are up to the winds of fate. Why are some tomatoes green inside? And if the tomatoes are green inside, are they bad? Read on to learn more.

Why are Some Tomatoes Green Inside?

Most tomatoes ripen from the inside out, hence the tomato seeds are green because they contain chlorophyll, the pigment in plants which gives them a green hue. Chlorophyll allows plants to absorb energy from light in a process called photosynthesis. As the seeds mature, the outer layer hardens to protect the interior embryo. The seeds also turn beige or off white color when they are ripe. So, a green interior may be green seeds. In other words, the tomato may not be ripe yet. This is the simplest explanation when a tomato is red but green inside; the tomato isn’t ripe inside.

Another reason for red tomatoes that are green inside may be stress, which can be attributed to many things or a combination. Long periods of dry spells, especially when followed by heavy rain or excessive heat over an extended period of time, can greatly affect tomato production and maturation. In these cases, the nutrition the plant needs isn’t properly getting transferred within the plant. The end result may be a tough, green to greenish-white inner core with pale fruit walls and green seeds and cavities.

While Mother Nature’s whims are out of your control, you can do some things to thwart her caprices. Mulch heavily to maintain adequate moisture during dry spells. Be sure to use a well-draining soil in case of the reverse – heavy rains. Use a soaker hose or drip line irrigation system equipped with a timer to ensure even watering in a timely manner.

Other Reasons a Tomato is Red but Green Inside

Defoliation, under or over fertilization, and insect pests may all cause green interiors in tomatoes. Potassium deficiencies lead to a disorder called blotchy ripening. Usually this shows itself as areas on the outside and inside of the fruit that aren’t ripening.

Sweet potato whiteflies and silver leaf whiteflies introduce a toxin into the fruit which prevents proper ripening, although this is usually characterized by yellow or white skin as well as the above, and severe white blotching on the interior.

Lastly, you might want to change varieties. The scuttlebutt is that this problem is more common in old tomato varieties and that the newer hybrids have this issue bred out of them.

The best bet is to prepare for next year by covering all the bases. Capture whiteflies with sticky traps, fertilize regularly, and use a drip line and well-drained soil. After that, hope for the best with the weather.

Oh, and as to the question if tomatoes are green inside, are they bad? Probably not. They may not taste very good, probably because the tomato is not ripe inside. In all likelihood they are pretty tart. Try to let the fruit ripen a bit longer on the countertop. Otherwise, you could use them like green tomatoes, fried. Or you can dehydrate them. We did green dried tomatoes last year and they were delicious!

Mushy Tomatoes: What Causes That?

Tomatoes are sensitive vegetables and can be easily damaged by rain or heat, or even by worms.

But did you know that organic tomatoes are even more sensitive? If you find a worm in a tomato, chances are that the tomato is organic, otherwise the worm wouldn't have liked it!

Heirloom tomatoes are delicious, yet so sensitive

I've been growing tomatoes for several years now and have learned a lot about them. My main goal has always been to have heirloom, organic tomatoes for my family. Even though I am a city girl, I've always appreciated some delicious heirloom tomatoes, the same as those I used to eat when I was a child. My grandpa always took me to the market with him, which I enjoyed so much. Although I also remember how much we walked in order to reach our destination, because my grandpa preferred it that way, instead of taking the bus. It was something that all the people did in the olden days, but unfortunately, we've stopped doing it. The tomatoes at the market were huge and juicy, always fresh, just picked from the garden and of course, they were heirlooms. Grandpa always searched for the cheap ones which were smaller and sometimes cracked. Those had a lower price, so they could be sold fast, before getting spoiled and altered - or even worse, they would get mushy. They were usually bought for cooking, as they were very ripe. Some of those tomatoes were almost crushed after traveling too crowded in a box.

Good Old Farmers Saved the Heirloom Tomatoes

Back then, the real farmers were selling their own groceries at the market and they could always control the price. They knew that spoiled tomatoes do not sell, so why charge a high price? And it was also the pride of selling good tomatoes, which made a buyer come back again and again, to buy the same good tomatoes. Of course, the farmers were often losing money, because their heirloom tomatoes were perishable.
The need for a smaller loss when selling tomatoes, brought the necessity of new tomato hybrids, stronger to disease and weather conditions. Many farmers started to grow those hybrids, instead of the heirlooms, which can't resist more than a day in the store or in the market, without getting mushy. Fortunately, many people in the countryside have continued to grow the same heirloom tomatoes in their gardens, by saving the seeds year after year, which they passed on to the next generation. When I first started to grow tomatoes, I asked a friend if she could give me a few heirloom tomato seeds from her parents, who were living in the countryside.

When the Tomatoes Get Too Soft, I Make Juice

It's not easy to grow tomatoes because it takes a lot of work and a few months until I can get the first ripe tomato. And when they start to ripen, they are really ripening fast, within days, while more tomatoes are starting to grow on the vine. Some of the tomatoes are damaged by worms, while others by the tomato blight disease or the fusarium wilt. I throw away the damaged and keep only the healthy ones.

Since they are huge and growing in clusters of four or five or even more, I need to pick those which are almost ripe, in order to give the vine relief, otherwise it may break. I'm keeping the picked tomatoes inside my pantry in a bowl, covered with a clean cloth until they are well ripe or until they start to get soft and I don't want them to get mushy, because that is how they get if kept in a warm place for too long. When I say mushy, I don't mean the mushiness caused by the tomato blight disease, but the softness from being too ripe. I can save them for a week or so by keeping them in my fridge. But even there they get mushy after a while, that's why I need to make juice every week, after I've gathered enough tomatoes.

Tomatoes Shouldn't Be Kept In the Fridge

They say that keeping the tomatoes in the fridge destroys some of their nutritional properties and alters their taste. Tomatoes need to stay in a warm place until consumed or until they are transformed into juice. I never knew that but now that I know I decided to stop keeping my tomatoes in the fridge, as I know I won't be able to eat all of them anyway, so why keep them, when more and more are ripening everyday?

Growing Heirloom Tomatoes Is the Best Choice

I understand the need of having more disease resistant tomato hybrids on the market, but that encourages me more to grow my heirloom tomatoes. I don't sell them, so I don't depend on buyers, just on my time. I can really save money by eating my own tomatoes and all the other vegetables growing in my garden. I can decide if I make tomato juice or a salad, before my tomatoes get mushy. Even if that lasts only for about two months (during late summer and starting fall) there is no other tomato on the market which can compare with the delicious taste of my heirloom tomatoes. For me, growing heirloom organic tomatoes is the best choice. What a satisfaction to take the tomato from the vine and eat it right away!

Ripening Tomatoes That Crack

The Spruce / K. Dave

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Otherwise healthy looking tomatoes split open before they're even fully ripened. What happened, how can you stop it from happening, and are they still okay to eat?

Tomatoes tend to crack when they are not watered regularly. Often when tomatoes experience a prolonged dry spell, we try to make up for it with excessive watering. This causes the pulp inside the tomato to hold the water and swell faster than the outside of the tomato can stretch. When that happens, the outside of the tomato splits open, causing cracks.

The good news is that the tomatoes are fine otherwise and perfectly edible. However, you will need to use them immediately, because the cracks will start to develop mold.  

To prevent cracking, make sure your tomato plants are getting regular water. That can be hard to do when there is excessive rain, but you can still moderate things by watering weekly when the weather is dry. A 4–6-inch layer of mulch will help keep the soil around the roots moist, further moderating the moisture level in the plants.

If cracking is a major problem, look for varieties that are labeled as crack resistant. Some good ones to try include Celebrity, Pruden’s Purple, and Sun Gold.

6 Reasons Why Your Tomatoes Aren’t Ripening

When all of your tomatoes are sitting on your vines, green when they should be red, you want to scream. While you shouldn’t take it personally, the green fruits on the vine seem to be taunting you.

Before you get too angry, take some time to investigate and determine if any of these factors could be affecting your tomato plants.

1. The Temperatures Are Too Warm

Warm temperatures and summer go hand in hand, but the heat can be the cause of the green tomatoes.

It can be hard to believe that high temperatures can be problematic for tomato plants because everyone grows them during the summer months. Tomatoes are a warm-season crop, right?

Tomatoes are temperature sensitive it determines when the pigment inside of the fruit ripens and turns into the color you’re waiting to see.

Believe it or not, the ideal temperature range for color changing and ripening is 68-77°F. If the temps go a little higher than that, your tomatoes should still do fine. Once they reach 85-90°F, expect the ripening to dramatically slow down or stop entirely.

The bad news is that you cannot control how hot it is in your area… if only! So, all you can do is wait for temps to go down and prepare for the tsunami of ripening tomatoes.

The good news is that you should have enough time left in the season for a cool down. You just have to be patient.

2. The Temperatures Are Too Cool

Temperatures that are too high can bother your tomato plants, but low temperatures can be bothersome as well.

You’re looking for the ideal temperature range between 68-77°F to help your tomatoes ripen to their desired end color. While they can handle temps slightly below that, understand that when the temperatures go to 60°F or lower, you’ll need to add 1-3 weeks onto their average maturity time.

What happens if the temperatures stay low or get even lower?

If the daytime temps for your area are under 60°F with nighttime temps going below 50°F, you can expect the ripening process to stop completely. Your tomatoes will not turn the color you desire unless it warms up again.

Not only will ripening stop, but the plants won’t set new fruit in those temperatures.

So, that leaves the question of if there is anything can you do anything to help your tomato plants when the temperatures get too chilly?

The best thing that you can do is protect your plants with either a row cover, an old bedsheet, or a tarp. Your goal is to try to trap in as much heat as possible to help the fruit ripen.

3. You Picked a Variety That Doesn’t Work for Your Area

What happens if you have tons of green tomatoes on the vine but the first frost dates are getting closer?

It means you might have selected a tomato variety that won’t do well in your region. If you live in a region that has a short growing season, you’ll need to select varieties of tomatoes that have a short growing season.

That means you want to pick tomatoes that can ripen in 50-70 days after transplanting. A good example is ‘Early Girl’ which can produce red, ripe tomatoes just 50 days.

Unfortunately, if you planted tomatoes that are unable to ripen within the frame of your growing season, there isn’t much that you can do. You can try to use season extenders, like a hoop house or floating row covers, to keep your plants as warm as possible. Those will only do so much, though! Live and learn.

4. Overgrown or Stressed Vines

Like anything else in the world, tomato plants only have so much energy to give. If they spend more time growing leaves or flowers, it doesn’t leave much to help the fruit turn red.

To ensure your plants aren’t under too much stress due to overgrowth, be sure to prune. Cut back the vines to stop the plant from blossoming further and to improve the airflow around the plants. This can stop fruits from being infected by diseases.

You should also be sure not to give plants too much nitrogen fertilizer. Nitrogen encourages plants to focus on their foliage and not their fruits.

5. Blossom End Rot

At times, if your plant develops blossom end rot, it could cause them to stop ripening due to the stress.

It’s easy to identify and determine if blossom end rot is your problem. You’ll find black lesions on your fruits, typically at the bottom of the fruit.

Blossom end rot is a disorder caused by low amounts of calcium in the plants. You can add more calcium to the soil, but that’s not usually the problem. The most typical reason for having a calcium deficiency is inconsistent watering, so the plant can’t take up the calcium.

6. Lack of Proper Sunlight

Another problem that could stop or hinder your tomatoes from ripening is the lack of proper sunlight. You might have picked a bad location for the plants without realizing it!

Tomatoes love the sunlight, and the plants need at least 7 hours of sunlight per day, but they’re happy with more.

You can make a mistake as I did. When I planted my tomato plants, the large tree on my property wasn’t fully leafed out. I didn’t realize that at its peak it would cast a huge about of shade over my garden right in the afternoon.

Another possibility is that you picked a great location, but put the plants too close together. Most tomato plants need at least 2 feet of distance, but larger plants could need even more.

1. Temperatures fluctuate.
Stressful weather conditions, especially an up-and-down thermometer, disturb a tomato’s ripening process. Tomatoes exposed to low temperatures overnight are particularly susceptible to developing hard central cores. That’s one reason hard core centers in tomatoes are common earlier and later in the season while the weather is more changeable.

2. Tomatoes get too much fertilizer.
Excessive fertilizer (especially accompanied by stressful weather) contributes to a tomato’s tough center core.

3. Tomato variety is juicy.
Older types of tomatoes with reputation for juiciness are more apt to develop hard, white central cores. These varieties have an interior structure made up of five cavities, filled with a jelly-like material (locular jelly). Newer hybrid varieties known to produce firmer fruit develop fewer tough, white centers.

When temperatures are high and stay that way, exposed tomato shoulders may not ripen evenly along with the rest of the fruit. Pigments are the culprit. If the variety’s carotene makeup is on the low side, then the fruit will likely exhibit green shoulders. Higher carotene content means the tomato shoulders will be yellow. Chlorophyll throws a monkey wrench in the whole mix.

But the problem is not insolvable! No, you cannot control the weather. But when you protect tomato plants from excessive direct sun, you can allow them to ripen evenly.

Ensure your tomatoes receive at least six hours of direct sunlight per day and maintain good air flow around each plant to prevent puffiness. Tomatoes planted closely together or covered by foliage from other plants do not receive adequate air circulation, which can inhibit the movement of pollen. They may also not receive enough direct sunlight. If tomatoes are growing in shaded or crowded conditions, trim back foliage to ensure they receive adequate light.

Puffiness may be prevented through proper fertilization. At planting, a soil test can help determine the right balance of nutrients necessary to ensure healthy fruit. But an application of 2 to 3 pounds of a complete fertilizer, such as 10-10-10 per 100 square feet of soil, typically provides adequate fertilization if it is worked into the soil at planting. Never use high-nitrogen fertilizers, such as those used on turf grass, to fertilize tomatoes. Throughout the growing season, a side dressing of 1 pound of ammonium nitrate per 100 feet of row -- applied one to two weeks after fruit set, then two weeks and six weeks after picking the first ripe fruit -- typically provides adequate fertilization for tomato plants.

Renee Miller began writing professionally in 2008, contributing to websites and the "Community Press" newspaper. She is co-founder of On Fiction Writing, a website for writers. Miller holds a diploma in social services from Clarke College in Belleville, Ontario.

Watch the video: Is green tomato toxic?