What you see: A green tinge inside your tomatoes
What it is: A particular feature of the breed; or, a physical problem from earlier in the tomato’s life
Eat or toss: Eat! Nothing to hurt you here.
So, can you eat tomatoes that are green inside?
We generally expect our tomatoes to conform to our very red expectations, but not all tomatoes are like the others. There are of course some heirloom varieties with their orange, red and green hues. And then there are tomatoes like this, which look perfectly red on the outside, but have a green tinge on the inside.
There are a number of reasons why a tomato could be packing a bit more chlorophyll under the hood, but plant breeder Emily Rose Haga suspects that the most likely explanation in this case is simply a breed that tends toward greener interiors.
“In some varieties, when the fruit is ripe it looks red and in some varieties it looks green,” said Haga, referring to the juicy material around the seeds. “Some people even prefer the flavor of a greener gel.”
Even though this was a standard on-the-vine tomato from a grocery store, Haga says it’s possible that the grower produced a number of varieties, in part to ensure that if there was a problem with one, there would be a backup crop. With different breeds come slight differences, hence the slight green.
There are also some ripening disorders that can cause green gel, and stressful conditions might also leave the gel a green color, but that’s probably going to be in conjunction with some other issues. Since this little guy looked pretty clean on the outside those scenarios are unlikely.
- Emily Rose Haga. Plant Breeder – tomatoes and peppers. Johnny’s Selected Seeds. Interview.
- Sensitivity of Tomatoes at Mature-green and Breaker Ripeness Stages to Internal Bruising. Journal of American Society for Horticultural Science. Steven A. Sargent, Jeffrey K. Brecht, Judith J. Zoellner. January 1992.
- Photosynthetic activity of the calyx, green shoulder, pericarp and locular parenchyma of tomato fruit. Journal of Experimental Botany. Robert M. Smillie, Suzan E. Hetherington, W.J. Davies. May 1999.
- Ripening of tomato fruit locule gel tissue in response to ethylene. Mordy A Atta-Aly, Jeffrey K Brecht, Donald J Huber. Postharvest Biology and Technology. Volume 19, Issue 3, July 2000, Pages 239-244
Once again, it’s not easy being green.