Are Split Tomatoes Safe To Eat: Edibility Of Cracked Tomatoes On The Vine

By Amy Grant

Tomatoes probably rank up there as the most popular plant grown in our vegetable gardens. Since most of us have grown them, it comes as no surprise that tomatoes are prone to their share of problems. One of the more frequent issues is cracked tomatoes on the vine. When presented with this problem, it’s common to wonder about eating tomatoes that are split open. Are split tomatoes safe to eat? Let’s find out.

About Cracked Tomatoes on the Vine

Usually cracked tomatoes are caused by water fluctuations. Cracking occurs when it has been very dry and then suddenly rainstorms arrive. Of course, that’s nature and not much you can do about it except water the plants when it’s very dry! So, yes, cracking also occurs when the gardener (I’m not pointing fingers!) neglects or forgets to regularly supply water to the tomato plants, then suddenly remembers and deluges them.

When this occurs, the inside of the tomato gets a sudden urge to grow more rapidly than the outer skin is capable of keeping up with. This growth spurt results in split tomatoes. There are two types of cracking evident in split tomatoes. One is concentric and appears as rings around the stem end of the fruit. The other is usually more severe with radial cracks that run the length of the tomato, from the stem down the sides.

Can You Eat Cracked Tomatoes?

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Concentric cracks are usually minimal and often heal themselves so, yes, you can eat this type of cracked tomato. Radial cracks are often deeper and can even split the fruit asunder. These deeper wounds open the fruit up to insect attack as well as fungus and bacterial infection. None of these sounds particularly appetizing, so are these split tomatoes safe to eat?

If there looks like infestation or infection, to be on the safe side, I would probably toss the offending fruit into the compost. That said, if it looks minimal, eating tomatoes that are split open is fine, especially if you cut out the area surrounding the crack.

If you have cracking tomatoes, it’s best to eat them right away if that is the eventual plan rather than let them linger. If you see a tomato that is just beginning to show signs of cracking, harvest it and let it finish ripening on the windowsill or counter. If you leave it on the vine, the cracking will just accelerate as the fruit continues to absorb water.

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