Do Tomatoes Ripen From The Inside Out?

Image by Quinn Dombrowski

By Heather Rhoades

“Do Tomatoes Ripen From The Inside Out?” This was a question that was sent to us by a reader and I have to admit that at first, we were perplexed. First of all, none of us had ever heard this particular fact and, secondly, how odd if it was true. One quick search of the internet showed that this was indeed something that many people believed, but the question still remained…was it true?

Next, we started scouring the websites of the horticultural departments at many of the Universities across the U.S. We could not find a single mention of this particular ripening process. So, from that fact, we are going to assume that this is not true. Tomatoes do not ripen from the inside out.

But to further support this, we are going to provide some facts about tomatoes that we do know to be true that would also support that tomatoes do not ripen from the inside out.


Ethylene Helps a Tomato Ripen

Ethylene is a gas that is produced by a tomato to help it ripen. Since it is a gas, it would be more present on the outside of a tomato rather than on the inside. The dreaded grocery store tomato has ethylene gas exposed to the outside of it to make it ripen further and suffers no damage due to this. The terrible taste is simply from the fact that it was picked green.

Tomato Coloring Changes Uniformly

No matter how hard you try, you will not be able to cut a tomato and find it only red on the inside. A half ripe tomato that is cut open will be just as pink on the outside as it is on the inside.

This Idea May Be a Misinterpretation

It is true that you cannot force a tomato to turn red until it has reached a certain maturity. Then genetically triggered switches are flipped and a tomato turns red. Some people may have taken this to mean that the inside of a tomato has to be “ripe” (mature) before the outside will turn red. In a way this is true, but the whole tomato has to reach that maturity, and it reaches that maturity at the same time, so still, the whole tomato reaches that maturity at the same time.

If anyone has documenting evidence to counter this and prove that this is not true to prove that tomatoes do ripen from the inside oute, we welcome the information. And by documenting evidence, we mean information supported by a educational institution in a study or paper.

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