Wrinkly tomatoes can be an alarming thing to find when you go out to your garden. Typically, you would want to see bright, juicy tomatoes full of life! A wrinkled fruit isn’t always terrible, but what does it mean exactly? Why are my tomatoes wrinkled?
Tomatoes can be wrinkled when they are over-ripe, dehydrated, or facing something called catfacing. Malnutrition and poor soil conditions can also cause wrinkly tomatoes.
Keep on reading because, in this article, we will talk about all the reasons your tomatoes are wrinkled and how to solve the problem.
What Causes Wrinkled Tomatoes?
It can be disheartening to find wrinkled tomatoes on the vine after growing them for so long. Why are they wrinkled? You could be facing a few things.
- Catfacing is a tomato disorder. It can cause the tomato to look misshapen, shrunken, puckered, different colors, and wrinkled. Catfacing can happen to all tomatoes but happens to larger tomatoes more frequently.
- Watering a tomato plant can be tricky. The plant wants a lot of water at the beginning of its life, but as it begins to flower, we want to ease back on the watering for multiple reasons. However, we don’t want to ease back too much! When the plant doesn’t get enough water, it focuses more on sending what water it has to its leaves and stems and lets the fruit shrivel up.
- Once you pick a tomato, it only has so long before it goes bad. It will begin to look wrinkly over time as the skin begins to die.
- A tomato plant with little nutrients will not thrive, and a tomato plant that is packed full of nitrogen, phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium. Wrinkles caused by malnutrition happen because the plant doesn’t have what it needs to create a proper juicy fruit.
Everything You Need to Know About Catfacing
Catfacing can be a strange thing to see. You will be able to spot it immediately. Your tomatoes will look very misshapen, discolored, have spots missing or spots growing in strange ways; they will be wrinkly, pruny, and just overall very wrong.
Catfacing can happen for a few reasons. The first is the weather. When the weather dips below 50 degrees F or goes below 60 degrees F (when the plant is young and flowers are just forming) for a few days at a time, this can cause stress on the plant.
Secondly, catfacing pops when you are giving your plant too much nitrogen. Nitrogen helps the plant to grow and be very green and healthy when it is too much; it’s almost like a steroid. The plant doesn’t know what to do with all the extra nutrients and causes the fruit to grow in strange and unique ways.
Third, and lastly, over-pruning can cause this disease, as although pruning is helpful for plant growth, you can over-prune and take away some of the essential hormones in the plant’s growth system.
Catfacing cannot be reversed, as you will not be able to see the disease until it has affected grown tomatoes. But, to prevent it from happening, you can do a few things.
You can make sure to plant your tomatoes at a time when no cold weather is coming or plant them in a greenhouse. Don’t plant them too early either; wait until the last frost is well over. Feed them, but not too excessively. And avoid aggressively pruning, especially once flowers begin to bud.
If you see catfacing on some ripening tomatoes, it’s best to pick them early. Don’t fret! You can still eat tomatoes that have the catfacing disease. Even though they may not look appetizing, they will still taste good in sauces or whatever else is all chopped up.
How to Revive Wrinkled Tomatoes
If you have tomatoes that you’ve already picked and they are going bad, you can try giving them a 10 minute ice water bath and rehydrating the fruit. There is no guarantee this works, but sometimes it can work wonders.
Tomatoes that are on the vine and wrinkled are a different story. You first need to figure out what is causing them to wrinkle. For instance, catfacing cannot be reversed. But if they look shriveled while still on the vine, they probably face dehydration.
Try and give your plant a good dose of water as quickly as you notice the wrinkling to attempt to rehydrate the fruit. If your fruit does not look replenished the next day, pick the ones that are too far gone off the plant, even if they aren’t ripe yet.
Nutrients can save your plant as well. If they are looking a little bleak, not only wrinkled, but the leaves are browning and curling, that’s your sign of a nutrient issue. Give your plant a healthy dose of feed over the soil for the roots to soak up, and hopefully, this will revive the entire plant.
Tips to Stop Tomatoes from Wrinkling
Here are some insider tips to ensure your tomatoes don’t get wrinkly on the vine and off.
- Store them upside down
- Storing tomatoes upside down helps prevent air from getting into the tops of tomatoes where mold can grow.
- Know when to plant
- To avoid catfacing, it’s important to keep an eye on the weather. Tomatoes are a summer fruit, and they like it hot. If you have baby plants growing when it’s cold, catfacing may occur. You want to wait 7-8 weeks after the last frost to put your tomato plants outside to be sure they won’t face the cold.
- Productive watering
- As I’ve mentioned before, watering can be tricky. It helps to have a chart to mark the dates that you’ve watered. Always keep an eye on your plants to see if they look a little parched.
- Nutrients are vital for a tomato plant to thrive. When planting, make sure they are planted in soil that is rich in nutrients and organic matter, as this will feed the plant for its whole life.
- Don’t let those tomatoes go to waste!
- Once tomatoes have been picked, yes, you have a little while before you have to eat them, and there are some things you can do to prevent them from going bad quickly. However, tomatoes don’t last forever. They have a shelf life that isn’t that long, so don’t forget about those tomatoes in your fridge and eat them up as soon as possible! If you think you can’t get to them on time, making a sauce is a great way to use up a lot of tomatoes. You can use the sauces as well, and it could last years.
Are Wrinkled Tomatoes Bad? Can I eat Them?
Wrinkled tomatoes aren’t necessarily bad. If they start to look a little wrinkly in your fridge, it may be a sign to start eating them sooner rather than later. Because they will eventually get moldy, and you don’t want to eat moldy tomatoes.
Wrinkled tomatoes from the vine are also not bad. Inspect them first and see if there is any other damage (mite, rot, etc.), but if all checks out, they should be fine. Tomatoes that have endured catfacing are also fine to eat even though they may not look like it.
All that being said, sometimes wrinkled tomatoes will have a toughness to them. The skin may seem a bit firmer or mushier even. So it’s best to cook your wrinkled tomatoes. Throw them in a soup or a stir-fry or make a delicious tomato sauce!
Wrinkled Tomatoes in the Fridge?
Tomatoes don’t last forever. If you have perfectly ripe tomatoes when they are picked, they should go right in the fridge. The fridge will significantly slow down the ripening process. If they aren’t quite ripe yet, they can stay on the countertop until they are ready.
Now that we’ve talked about everything causing your wrinkly tomatoes, we can see that it’s not so terrible after all. Wrinkles can be avoided if you pay close attention to the weather and your water schedule. Make sure your plant always has the right nutrients for it to thrive to its full potential. Even tomatoes that are too far gone, lost to wrinkles, are still edible! Don’t throw those tomatoes out; give them a chance by making a delectable sauce or a tasty soup.
Hi there, my name is Allie and welcome to my blog; GareningWithAllie!
Much of what you see written here is just our personal experiences with gardening. Along with the content I write here, there is also a unique collection of gardening topics covered by some of our close friends. I hope you find everything you read here to be helpful, informative, and something that can make your gardening journey the most lovely experience ever! With that said, Happy Gardening!