Tomatoes Green Inside? Here’s What you Need to Know


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Some tomato varieties are red, yellow, green, pink, purple, bicolor, and even black. However, have you ever seen tomatoes that have a green tinge on the inside but are red from the outside?

The green interior seen in tomatoes is primarily due to chlorophyll retention resulting from environmental stress placed on the plant during the fruiting phase. The green inside is ok and can be corrected by ripening after the fruit is harvested. 

If you already have but are wondering why some tomatoes are green only from the inside? Are they safe to consume? And how to correct the issue. Then read the article to know all about tomatoes with green inside.

Why are Some Tomatoes Green Inside?

Growing tomatoes isn’t an easy nut to crack. Tomatoes are considered one of the most sensitive plants and congenial hosts to many bacterial and viral infections. 

A slight mistake from your end can hinder the proper development and growth of your tomato plant. 

When it comes to red tomatoes with green insides, there could be several reasons behind it. It might be because the tomato isn’t fully ripened yet or it can also happen because of chlorophyll retention or disease.  

What Causes Tomatoes To Be Green Inside?

Reasons that can cause tomatoes to be green inside include:

  • Environmental factors
  • Chlorophyll retention
  • Physiological Stress
  • A sign of disease
  • Nutrient deficiency
  • Seed sprouting
  • A tomato variety with green inside

Environmental Factors:

Environmental factors like light, water, and temperature could be one of the reasons to cause your tomatoes to be green inside.

For instance, as we mentioned earlier, the green inside could be a sign that your tomatoes are still not fully ripened. 

Tomatoes are sun-loving plants and ripen from the inside out and need plenty of it to ripen fully. 

With maturity, the outer layer of tomatoes hardens first, becoming red or any other color (depending on the tomato variety). 

There might be a possibility that you picked your tomatoes even before they perfectly ripened or your tomato plant couldn’t get the required amount of sunlight to function properly.  

For instance, the tomato variety, Giant Crimson, turns a shade of pale red even before it fully ripens.

Chlorophyll Retention:

This second cause goes hand in hand with environmental factors. 

Seeds in the tomatoes have chlorophyll. It is a pigment that is mainly responsible for the green color in plants and does the job of capturing sunlight. 

Environmental factors can cause chlorophyll retention in tomatoes.  

According to HPP Student Coordinator, Dr. Katharina Hanika, from the Wageningen University and Research, chlorophyll breakdown during the ripening process of tomatoes.

That’s the reason why tomatoes turn red (depending on the variety) from the initial green color. 

However, due to certain environmental factors, the chlorophyll may retain (not breaking down completely). This might be a reason why your tomatoes stayed green inside. 

Physiological Stress:

The green flesh of tomatoes can also be caused by stress. Similar to human beings, plants also struggle with different types of stress. 

Environmental stress being the most prominent one. Tomato plants especially get stressed as they transit from cooler spring to dry and hot summer. 

Overwatering and underwatering can also delay or hinder the maturation of tomatoes. Excessive heat, nitrogen, and high wind can also stress tomato plants, resulting in an unripe inner core, even with a red (depending on variety) exterior.

Tomato Varieties That Have Green Internal Color:

Some varieties of tomatoes are green on the inside. Some even are green from both inside and outside. A few of them are:

Variety NameShape and SizeColor Characteristics
Chocolate Cherry TomatoesRound; Small Interior with greenish gel.
Green Zebra(OP)Round; MidsizeAmber green with darker green stripes interior. The interior has light green flesh. 
Paul Robeson(Heirloom)Roundish;  MidsizeInterior with green seeds and gel. The skin has a red color with green shoulders.
Cherokee Green(Heirloom)Midsize; RoundInterior bright green and the skin has yellowish-hue
Pink BerkeleyTie-DyeRoundish;  MidsizeThe exterior has rosy with green and yellow colors (green shoulder). The interior has greenish gel and seeds. 
Aunt Ruby’s German CherryLarge; BeefsteakGreen flesh, sometimes with the pink or yellow blush on the blossom end. Dark green shoulder. 
Ananas Noire or Black PineappleBoat or Round flatInterior streaked with multiple colors, including pink, green, and red. The exterior ripens into dark purple with green shoulders.
Cherokee PurpleMidsize; RoundRose-purple skin with a dark green shoulder. The interior has greenish gel. 

Why Are Cherry Tomatoes Green Inside

Some ripened cherry tomatoes may still have green insides due to lack of ripening. 

Although the cherry tomatoes may look green inside they can still be eaten with a little compromise to the taste. 

Ripened tomatoes will give a more sweetened taste as the ethylene gas permeates out from the fruit and stimulates the ripening process in other surrounding tomatoes. 

Hacks for speeding up the ripening process of your cherry tomatoes:

  • Store the cherry tomatoes in a dark cool place.
  • Wrapping the tomatoes in paper before placing them to ripen can help the process. 
  • Place an apple in the same space as the tomatoes which emit ethylene that promotes ripening. 
  • Place the tomatoes in a closed bag with a ripe banana. It also releases ethylene. 

Can You Eat Tomatoes That Are Green Inside?

When it comes to whether you can eat tomatoes that are green inside, the internet is full of conflicts. 

If you are eating a variety that is supposed to be green inside even after fully ripening, there is nothing to worry about. 

However, if you are eating an unripened tomato, don’t consume it raw. Why not try fried green tomatoes? That’s a classic dish of the Southern U.S prepared with unripened green tomatoes.

How Long Do Tomatoes Take To Ripen?

There are more than 7000 varieties of tomatoes grown all around the world. Each tomato variety has its own ripening frame. 

Therefore, it will be a little difficult to give an exact answer for how long a tomato takes to fully ripen.

Most tomato varieties generally require 40 to 60 days (6 to 8 weeks) to ripen. 

To understand more about the “Tomato Maturity & Ripening Stages”, read Dr. Marita Cantwell’s research article. 

She is a Postharvest Vegetable specialist from the University of California, Davis.

Tips for ripening of tomatoes:

  • The optimum ripening temperature is 70 to 75F
  • Temperatures that exceed 85 to 90F slows the ripening process
  • Adding Fertilizers do not reduce ripening time
  • Soil fertility does not play a role in ripening
  • Tomatoes do not need light to ripen
  • Leaves should not be removed in an effort to ripen the fruit
  • In the mature green phase, tomatoes can be stored in the dark at room temperature for ripening
  • Do not refrigerate as it destroys the flavor when ripening. 

What Causes Green Seeds Inside Tomatoes

The seed in tomatoes also contains chlorophyll in the same way as the leaves. The chlorophyll also absorbs light and converts it into food for the plant.

Usually, as the fruit ripens and turns red on the outside, so does the seed on the inside. 

The act of chlorophyll retention within the seeds is the primary reason why the seed remains green even when the tomato turns red on the outside.

Chlorophyll retentions are the ability of the plant to retain chlorophyll within the chloroplast when the plant is subjected to external stress such as osmotic shock (water deficit). [Source]

When tomato plants are faced with certain stress conditions, including drought the insides, primarily the seeds are the least part of the fruit structure to release chlorophyll.

This accounts for why in some tomato cultivars, that the seeds and other parts of the insides remain somewhat green even when the fruit on the outside looks ripened.

Is it Bad That the Fruit is Green?

As discussed, the main reason why the fruit is green inside is because of environmental stress that the plant has endured during production. 

This does not mean that the plant was disease-ridden and it has passed on to the fruit which can eventually affect the person who eats it.

It’s simply a matter of how the plant reacts to stress. The good news is that it still was healthy enough to produce a fruit that has a great potential to be palatable.

Can you Eat a tomato with Green Seeds?

Tomatoes with green seeds can be eaten without any side effects. The taste however may differ from eating a totally ripened tomato.

The taste of a green tomato will have more tangy. Green tomatoes are acidic, sometimes bitter to the pallet. They may be less juicy than a fully ripe tomato.

However, if you want a better taste from the same tomato, we recommend leaving the fruit covered in an aerated basket (not in the refrigerator) and allow it to ripen through its natural process.

A couple of days and the entire fruits should have the pink to red color and taste that you are accustomed to.

Will Green Tomatoes turn red Eventually

What we have seen, once harvested, the tomato can be allowed to sit for a couple of days before the entire fruit is totally ripened as well as the insides.

Tomatoes give off ethene (or ethylene) gas, a natural plant hormone that regulates a plant’s growth and makes it ripen by converting the starch it stores into sugar.

Time also allows for the chloroplast to shed the remaining chlorophyll and eventually turn red. 

The acidic or bitter taste associated with green tomatoes will transform into a sweet, juicy, and tender fruit that you love.

How to ripen tomato on the tree or vine

Tomato usually takes 6 to 8 weeks to ripen and the time will vary depending on the variety. 

The optimum temperature for ripening tomatoes is 70 to 75 F. 

Usually, the tomato will ripen on the plant without intervention, but sometimes there may be those that may take a bit longer. 

However, there are some simple tricks that you can employ to help it the ripening process. 

Note: when temperatures exceed 85 to 90F the ripening process slows or sometimes even stops. 

To further increase the ripening process, any young non developed flowers should be pruned as well as any unwanted suckers. 

What this does, it that it causes the plant to focus the energy that was once going towards maintenance of these peripherals, to the ripening of the fruit. 

The Takeaway:

Thanks to their rich taste and health benefits, tomatoes are one of the largest consumed vegetable crops all around the globe. 

There will hardly be any gardener who isn’t fond of growing tomatoes in his garden or a person who dislikes the sweet taste of tomatoes. 

The tomatoes’ green inside could be caused by environmental factors (light, water, fertilizer, temperature, etc), physiological stress, nutrient deficiencies, or chlorophyll retention. 

However,  the simplest explanation for a tomato green inside is either it has not ripened fully yet or it is a tomato variety that is supposed to be green inside when ripened. 

JayLea

JayLea has a passion for plants and has been gardening since 2015. He has valuable knowledge about gardening and houseplant care and can answer everyday practical questions that every plant owner has.

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