5 Reasons Why Cherry Tomatoes Are Green Inside?

5 Reasons Why Cherry Tomatoes Are Green Inside?

Few garden treats compare to the joy of plucking a ripe, red cherry tomato straight from the vine on a sunny summer day. But when you gently split that little red globe open, eager for its candy-like burst of flavor, the disappointment is real when instead of a gleaming red interior you spot unripe green flesh.

What causes this tricky case of seemingly red exteriors hiding green insides? Today we unravel this common mystery of the cherry tomato.

First, rest assured those green-bellied tomatoes are perfectly safe to eat. Their inner greenness is no cause for alarm or trips to the compost bin. With a bit more time to ripen, they’ll usually lose the green hue. And even tomatoes staying stubbornly half-green have delightful uses in salsa verde, fried green tomatoes, or a tart salad.

So, Why Are My Sweet Cherry Tomatoes Still Green Inside?

Cherry tomatoes may still be green inside when ripe because they were picked prematurely before fully ripening. Green interiors can also result from cold weather slowing ripening, green-when-ripe varieties, blossom end rot, or pest/disease damage. Give under-ripe cherry tomatoes time to finish reddening for sweet, ripe fruits.

But why does partial greenness happen in the first place? Let’s investigate some leading theories behind the case of the green insides…

1. Your Cherry Tomatoes Aren’t Fully Ripe

This is probably the most common reason. While the outside of a cherry tomato can turn red, the inside lags behind a bit in the ripening process. Cherry tomatoes aren’t fully ripe until they are red both inside and out.

Even when the skin looks red, the flesh inside might need another day or two on the vine to lose the green pigment chlorophyll and turn fully red. Leaving cherry tomatoes on the plant longer allows them to become completely ripe.

However, it’s often a race against hungry critters to harvest tomatoes when they first start to redden. If you pick your cherry tomatoes when the skins have just turned red, but the insides are still a bit green, they should continue to ripen if left at room temperature for a couple of days. The green interior isn’t harmful, it’s just a sign they weren’t 100% ripe when picked.

2. Cold Temperatures or Low Light Can Slow Ripening

For tomatoes to properly ripen, they need warmth and sun. Cool-weather below 55°F (13°C) interferes with ripening and causes uneven color change. Often the inside of the tomato will remain partially green.

Insufficient sunlight due to overcast weather, dense foliage, or too much shade can also prevent the fruit from fully ripening. The skin may turn red first while the inner flesh lags behind.

Fortunately, under-ripe tomatoes can complete the ripening process after picking if temperatures become favorable again. Bring any pink or partially red cherry tomatoes inside and leave them on the counter for 2-3 days. The warmth indoors should allow them to fully ripen.

3. Your Variety Stays Greenish When Ripe

Some heirloom and cherry tomato varieties remain greenish even when completely ripe. The skin may turn fully red, but the gel and seeds stay green, yellow, or striped.

For example, “Green Doctors” is a cherry tomato that remains lime-green on the inside at maturity. Other green-when-ripe varieties include “Aunt Ruby’s German Green”, “Cherokee Green”, and “Green Zebra.”

So if your red cherry tomatoes consistently have some green on the inside, that green coloring is likely just characteristic of the variety. They aren’t under-ripe, that’s just their natural color. These green-when-ripe heirlooms tend to be more tangy rather than sweet.

4. Blossom End Rot Can Cause Green Spots

Blossom end rot is a common tomato disorder where leathery, sunken brown-black spots form on the bottom of the fruit. These spots are caused by a localized calcium deficiency.

Often the affected area around the rotted spot will remain green and unripe looking. This is because blossom end rot interferes with the proper ripening and color change of that damaged part of the tomato.

To avoid blossom end rot, try to maintain even soil moisture and avoid drought stress. Mulching around your tomato plants can help. You can also apply calcium-rich fertilizers a few weeks after transplanting to supply enough calcium for the rapidly growing fruits.

5. Underlying Pest or Disease Issues

In some cases, cherry tomatoes that stay partially green inside may indicate a pest problem or disease. Tomato pests like stink bugs can injure developing fruit and prevent even ripening. Viral diseases like tobacco mosaic can also cause distinct unripe green patches or mottling.

Check your tomato plants closely for signs of common pests like hornworms, cutworms, or flea beetles which can damage fruit. Watch for disease symptoms like spotting, wilting, mottling, or distorted growth which may accompany fruits that won’t ripen properly.

Addressing any pest or disease issues through organic treatments, row covers, or resistant varieties can help ensure your cherry tomatoes ripen smoothly in future seasons.

Are Green Cherry Tomatoes Safe to Eat?

Wondering if you should toss out those cherry tomatoes with a green interior? The good news is they are perfectly safe to eat!

As mentioned above, partial greenness is usually just a sign of slight under-ripeness. The tomato is safe but may be more tart than usual.

Once picked, an under-ripe cherry tomato will continue ripening and lose any green over the next couple days on your kitchen counter.

Even fully ripe heirloom varieties that remain stubbornly greenish inside are still delicious and nutritious. That’s just their natural color.

The only time when very green tomatoes could be unsafe is if that greenness is accompanied by rotting, visible mold, or signs of disease. But otherwise, enjoy those greenie cherry tomatoes once they’ve ripened – they’re good for you!

What to Do With Green Cherry Tomatoes

Rather than trashing your green cherry tomatoes, put them to tasty use! Here are some ideas:

  • Let them ripen at room temperature for 1-3 days until red inside and out. Enjoy as a fresh snack or in the salad.
  • Roast or sauté them to draw out the sugars and mellow the sharpness. The dry heat helps concentrate flavors.
  • Use in salsa, sauces, or casseroles where they’ll blend in. Their tartness can be masked in cooked dishes.
  • Pickle your green cherry tomatoes for a tangy, crunchy treat. The brine will impart lots of flavor.
  • Fry up green cherry tomatoes for a unique twist on fried green tomatoes. A crisp cornmeal coating balances the tartness.
  • Candy your green tomatoes by cooking them with warm spices and brown sugar. The sweetness perfectly complements the sour.
  • Make green tomato chutney. Cook chopped green cherry tomatoes with vinegar, sugar, and Indian spices for a delicious relish.
  • Use as the base for a fresh pasta sauce. Saute green cherry tomatoes with garlic and basil until soft and puree into a vibrant sauce.
  • Mix with feta, mint, and cucumbers for a Mediterranean-style salad. The briny feta and fresh mint offset the sharp tomatoes.
  • Toss chopped green cherry tomatoes into your next omelet or scrambled eggs. They add nice bursts of tartness.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tell if a cherry tomato is fully ripe if the inside is still green?

Look for signs like a deep red color, slight softness when squeezed, and easily detached from the vine. Taste a slice – it should be sweet without tartness if ripe.

Will putting my green cherry tomatoes in the sun help them ripen faster?

Yes, placing green cherry tomatoes in a sunny window can speed ripening. The warmth and sunlight will break down chlorophyll and boost color change.

Can green cherry tomatoes be ripened after refrigerating them?

Unfortunately, refrigeration halts the ripening process. Leave green cherry tomatoes at room temp instead. Once chilled, they will no longer continue to ripen.

Wrapping up!

While occasional green-centered tomatoes are no cause for panic, preventing them yields better rewards. Choose resistant varieties, control pests, boost nutrition, and safeguard against cold weather for the ripest, reddest insides your cherry tomatoes can produce.

Patience and frequent harvesting once blushing begins to help ensure ripeness through and through. And for any tomatoes still hiding green? Simply finish ripening them indoors or embrace their tangy uniqueness in green tomato recipes.

Reference

  1. Potassium deficiency-Tomato. Yara North America. https://www.yara.us/crop-nutrition/tomato/nutrient-deficiencies/potassium-deficiency-tomato/
  2. Tomato Fruit Problems. Missouri Botanical Gardens. https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/gardens-gardening/your-garden/help-for-the-home-gardener/advice-tips-resources/visual-guides/tomato-fruit-problems.aspx
  3. Harvesting and Ripening Tomatoes. K-State Research and Extension.
    https://www.johnson.k-state.edu/lawn-garden/agent-articles/vegetables/harvest-ripen-tomatoes.html

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Mohsin
By Mohsin

Hi, I’m Mohsin, creator of Tomato about website. I have over a two decade of gardening experience and I love helping others growing healthy tomatoes!


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