Cherry and grape tomatoes almost never make it to my table since I just pick them and eat them right from the garden. But when they’re coming in like gangbusters, I’ll take them in and make a salad, pasta, or some other dish with them. I pick them when they look fully ripe, or take them in at 95% ripeness and use them a couple days later. However, even when they’re completely red or orange, I sometimes find some that are still green inside.
I don’t think much of it and use them anyway. In most cases, there’s nothing to worry about if your cherry tomatoes are a bit green on the inside. If you notice your cherry or grape tomatoes are green inside, it’s likely one of the following reasons.
Reasons Why Your Cherry Tomatoes Are Green Inside
1. Your cherry tomatoes haven’t fully ripened
Although tomatoes ripen from the inside out, they don’t always ripen evenly, and may not completely ripen on the inside before the outside turns red.
Also, it’s important to note that some varieties of tomato actually turn a brighter or deeper shade before they fully mature, so it’s possible your tomatoes may look ripe but still need more time to fully ripen. For example, the Giant Crimson tomato is an old heirloom which turns a shade of pale red, and it looks ripe, tastes pretty ripe, but if you leave it on the vine a bit longer, it will actually change to a deep, bright crimson red color which is when it is fully ripe. Similarly, some orange tomatoes turn orange-yellow before turning a deeper shade of orange.
If you don’t have the luxury of being able to leave your cherry tomatoes on the vine to fully ripen (gotta get ‘em before the squirrels do) you can pick them when they are partially ripe and leave them on the kitchen counter for a few days. Harvesting half-ripe tomatoes and letting them ripen fully inside should not affect the flavor and quality at all, as once tomatoes start to change color, they can continue the ripening process off the plant. Even if they do look fully ripe, still keep them on the counter for a couple more days. After that, check to see if the inside has turned red (or orange, yellow, etc.) or not. If they’re always a little green on the inside, then it’s likely that your variety just naturally stays a bit green.
2. Some varieties of cherry tomato never turn completely red
There are many varieties of tomatoes which never completely turn red even when ripe. You could leave them on the plant until they’re overripe and you could still see some green on the inside. The seeds will be fully mature, the tomato will taste as it should, but it just won’t be completely red (or pink, yellow, orange, etc.).
A lot of purple, blue, and dark red tomatoes also tend to remain a little green on the inside, even when ripe, such as the Black Cherry, Rosella cherry, and Blue Berries tomato. Some larger tomatoes, like the Cherokee Purple, even continue to have slightly green skin on the top shoulders after fully ripening. There are also some cherry tomato varieties which ripen to a green color and never turn red, like the Green Doctors tomato. Then you have more unusual green varieties that turn pink on the inside but the skin and outer flesh remain green (like the Evil Olive cherry tomato).
Note that green varieties of cherry tomatoes tend to have a more acidic bite to them compared to sweeter red, orange, and yellow varieties. Dark-colored tomatoes tend to have more savory, complex flavors.
3. It could be a sign of disease, pest damage, a nutrient deficiency, or adverse growing conditions
A less common reason for cherry tomatoes being green on the inside is pest or disease damage. As mentioned above, tomatoes don’t always ripen evenly, and diseases or pests like whiteflies or stink bugs can damage the tomato fruit and interfere with the ripening process. However, these are usually easy to identify, either with an obvious infestation of insects or mottled patterning which is characteristic of a viral infection like tomato mosaic virus (ToMV).
Another possible cause is a potassium deficiency. This will cause uneven ripening and in some cases permanently green areas inside and on the skin of your tomato. Potassium deficiencies can also cause a yellowing of the leaves. However, a soil test should be done to know for sure if you have a potassium deficiency, as adding too much potassium can also be detrimental to tomato growth.
Other adverse growing conditions, such as cold temperatures below 60°F (15.5°C), or having a high soil pH can affect ripening, especially if you notice it’s green inside near where the stem is attached. I’ve also noticed this in my last few tomatoes that ripen in October.
Can I Eat Cherry Tomatoes That Are Still Green Inside?
If your cherry tomatoes are only slightly underripe, you might not even tell the difference since they’re often much sweeter and flavorful than their larger cousins. But if they’re very green inside, you may notice more tartness than usual.
Either way, cherry tomatoes that are green inside are perfectly fine to eat. In fact, the verdict has mostly been reached on underripe tomatoes, and of course, actual totally green, unripe tomatoes are a staple in Southern cooking.
- Potassium deficiency-Tomato. Yara North America. https://www.yara.us/crop-nutrition/tomato/nutrient-deficiencies/potassium-deficiency-tomato/
- Tomato Fruit Problems. Missouri Botanical Gardens. https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/gardens-gardening/your-garden/help-for-the-home-gardener/advice-tips-resources/visual-guides/tomato-fruit-problems.aspx
- Accused, Yes, but Probably Not a Killer. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/29/dining/29curi.html
- Harvesting and Ripening Tomatoes. K-State Research and Extension.