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Should Tomatoes Have Green Inside – Color, Ripeness, & More

You have just spent the entire summer waiting to bite into your delicious, juicy, fresh tomato garden. As you cut into your first harvest, you notice it is still GREEN inside! Was all your hard work for nothing? Should tomatoes have green inside?

Yes and no. Some varieties of tomatoes, like types of heirloom tomatoes, will have some green inside even when fully ripe. Others, like Roma tomatoes, should not have green inside when considered mature. On the opposite end of the spectrum, tomatoes remain green inside and out even when fully vine-ripened! 

Read on to discover more about the fascinating world of green tomatoes! 

Should My Tomato Have Green Inside?

To answer this question, you must first understand your tomato plant. Which variety of tomatoes do you have in your garden? Some types of tomatoes will never turn red no matter how long you leave them to ”ripen.”

There are a large variety of green tomatoes, meaning they are green inside and out at maturity! You can tell a green tomato from an unripened red tomato by its texture. A green tomato will be soft at maturity, while an immature red tomato will be hard and compact. 

Green Tomatoes

Green tomatoes are very common to grow along with their red or orange family. Usually, green tomato plants are heirloom or heritage tomatoes. Green tomatoes have a much different flavor than red tomatoes. With a tangy, slightly spicy flavor profile, green tomato varieties make a delicious addition to salads or are made into a salsa verde. Below, you will find common types of green tomatoes.

Aunt Ruby’s German Greenlarge, beefsteak varietySoft, lush dark green with a green interior
Green GrapeSmall cherry tomato sizedGreenish gel interior
Green ZebraRound, medium sizedGreen striped exterior with a soft green interior
Ananas NoireFlat, medium sizedExterior is purplish with green; interior is striped with multicolors of green, pink, and red
Aunt Ruby’s German Cherry Greensmall, cherry tomato sizedCan be pinkish or blush near blossom end, dark green on shoulders
Cherokee Greenround, medium sizedYellowish skin with a bright green interior
A list of tomato varieties that are naturally green

Wow! That is a lot of green tomatoes, but my RED tomatoes are green inside! What can I do about that?

Reasons Your Red Tomatoes Are Green Inside

You go to slice up one of your red garden tomatoes and find that the inside is tinged green! While it may be alarming, it is very common, and no, you did not fail as a gardener, nor is your entire tomato crop waste. There are many reasons your red tomatoes may have green inside. 

Your Tomatoes Are Not Ripe

You may have jumped the gun and, in your excitement to start enjoying your gardens’ harvest, plucked your tomatoes before they were all the way mature.

The most common reason your tomatoes are green inside is that they are not ripe yet. The good news is, you can ripen tomatoes off the vine right on your kitchen counter! Place your (uncut) tomatoes in a bowl near a window, and in less than two weeks, your tomatoes will be red through and through.

You Planted Heirloom Tomatoes

Those beautiful, colorful, eye-catching tomatoes you see at the farmer’s market with unique patterns and colors are heirloom or heritage tomatoes. It is very common for certain varieties of heritage tomatoes to have green inside.

Everett’s Rust Oxheart and Thornburn’s Terra Cotta are two examples of heritage tomatoes that commonly have green flesh inside. The green is just part of the charm of the heirloom tomato. When eaten raw, these tomatoes are delicious and add visual interest to your garden salads!

Weather Was Not Ideal

Any gardener knows that the weather plays a vital role in plants’ growth and production. A hot, dry summer can lead to tomatoes that do not turn entirely red or cause some parts of the tomatoes to ripen faster than others, leaving lots of green, underripe sections of tomato.

Another cause of uneven ripening is cold nights, so it is very important to keep an eye on your overnight temperatures. Once it begins getting consistently cold out, bring your tomato plants in! Remember, you can ripen tomatoes off the vine, so do not fret if your tomatoes are not all the way ripe yet. Ripening your tomatoes indoors is better than frostbitten fruits. 

Soil Was Not Ideal

While one cannot control the weather, a gardener can control the soil in their garden. Ensure that your tomato plant can get the minerals and nutrients it needs by prepping the soil properly before planting. A deficiency in nutrients can cause your tomato plant to produce tomatoes small in size or cause uneven ripening.

To ensure your tomato plants get the proper nutrients, use a good fertilizer throughout the season and be sure that your soil is not hard or compact so the roots can easily access the added minerals and nutrients. Providing mulch to help keep the soil moist is also a tip from seasoned gardeners to keep your plants happy and thriving!

Damaged Plants

While some people think that you can cause a tomato plant to ripen its fruit quicker by pulling leaves from the plant, this is not true and can cause severe side effects. By damaging or removing the leaves, the plant puts most of its energy into repairing and regrowing the leaves, taking energy and nutrients away from the fruit.

This can cause uneven maturing, leaving green inside the flesh of an otherwise red tomato. Insects are another leading cause of tomato fruit damage. Stink bugs, whiteflies, and other bugs can create wounds in the flesh of your tomato fruits, leaving green areas inside of your tomatoes.

It is best to discard any fruit or vegetable that shows insect damage. It is not considered safe to eat the remaining portion of fruit in tomatoes and other soft foods after you cut off the infected or damaged area. 

Is It Safe To Eat Green Tomatoes?

The good news is, yes, it is entirely safe to eat green tomatoes. Whether your tomato is completely green or just slightly tinged green inside from being immature, you do not need to worry about the safety of consuming your garden tomatoes. Now, while unripened tomatoes will not taste as good as their matured, red version, there are ways you can prepare them to make a tasty dish.

Green versions of red tomatoes are better tasting when cooked. Unripened tomatoes have a high level of alkaloids in them, giving them a bitter taste. As the tomato grows into maturity and loses its green tinge, the smaller amount of alkaloids, it has.

The closer your tomato is to maturity, the less bitter it will be. To help diminish the bitterness, boil your green tomatoes in water before adding to your favorite dish or sauce. Another common preparation of green tomatoes is to batter and fry them. A staple dish in the south, fried green tomatoes are served on everything from burgers and sandwiches to salads or eaten alone as a snack!

Final Thoughts

While green tomatoes can be alarming, they are very common! Whether you grew a green heritage tomato variety such as Cherokee Green or Aunt Ruby’s German Green or if your red tomatoes are just a little immature, green tomatoes are safe to eat and enjoy both raw or cooked into your favorite dishes.

You can help prevent your red tomato plant variety from producing green tomatoes by ensuring they have a proper growing environment, enough nutrients from the soil, ideal weather and temperatures, protecting them from insects and damage, and letting them ripen on the vine! Now that you know all about green tomatoes, you can head into tomato season prepared and ready to create a beautiful and bountiful tomato garden! 

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