This tomato top cracked, but it's not lost to your salad

This tomato's skin cracked after its inside grew faster than its outside could keep up with.

What you see: Dried out, cracked lines radiating from the center of the tomato top What it is: Scarring after a growth spurt Eat or toss: Eat! The dry, brown areas will probably not have a great texture, but as long as you don’t see any evidence of mold or rot, the rest of the tomato will still taste great

The story: When the inside of the tomato grows faster than the outside, something has to give. In this case, the tomato “cracked,” opening up these starburst-like lines around its stem.

Certain types of tomatoes, especially heirloom varieties, are more prone to cracking than others. In any breed, however, the culprit is usually an unsteady sequence of dry and then very wet conditions, which cause the tomato to grow too quickly. Similarly, overfertilization and wild temperature changes can confuse the tomatoes’ growing mechanisms past their bursting point.

Check to make sure there’s no evidence of mold having snuck in, or rot taking over (that would look like very squishy, slimy flesh or fuzzy mold), but as long as the cracks heal and are dry like this one, you should have no concerns about eating the fruit (though a careful wash is a good idea, given the depth of the groves). Depending on its thickness, the scarred part may not have the nicest texture, so you may want to just cut that part off.

This tomato is sporting a radial cracking look, but, depending on the variety, tomatoes might also crack in rings that form circles around the fruit.

SOURCES: Emily Rose Haga, plant breeder, tomatoes and peppers. Johnny's Selected Seeds. Tomato Problems. Help for the Home Gardener. Missouri Botanical Garden.

Tomato Fruit Problems. Help for the Home Gardener. Missouri Botanical Garden. Tomato Diseases and Disorders. Missouri Botanical Garden.

I hate to burst your tomato, but there's way too much water in your garden….

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