You’ve seen your own tomatoes develop from golden flowers to luscious, ready-to-pick fruit. Yet one day you see that your lovely crop has broken. Luckily, new tomatoes will grow and you can redeem your garden from this common setback. But first, find out why tomatoes split, how to prevent it, and whether you can eat split tomatoes after all.
Why Do Tomatoes Split?
Tomatoes split when they receive an inconsistent amount of water. While cracking is more typical in mature tomatoes, it may also occur in green tomatoes.
Heavy rain tends to be the culprit when it comes to cracking, especially for tomatoes that grow in dry conditions. Tomatoes, on the other hand, may withstand heavy rains only to split when the weather suddenly changes to dry. Not watering tomatoes and then flooding them produces cracks as well.
This happens because excess water causes the inside of the fruit to grow much faster than the skin on the outside. The skin ruptures, leaving vertical or horizontal fissures.
How to Prevent Tomatoes from Splitting
While you cannot control the weather, you may take the following precautions to avoid cracks.
Tomatoes need around one inch of water per week throughout the summer and prefer a consistent supply. Rain will contribute to this amount, so you can water your tomatoes less when the forecast brings summer showers. Water the plant every two to three days during dry weather.
Use the right hose
A drip or soaker hose will provide tomatoes with a consistent stream of water. Drip irrigation and soaker hoses both supply water to the plant’s roots, where it is most beneficial.
Mulch aids in the retention of moisture by plants. Whether it consists of wood chips, bark, straw, pine needles, or plastic, mulch can help your tomatoes absorb just the right amount of water.
Check your fertilizer
Tomatoes, being heavy feeders, may need additional nutrients from fertilizer. The best fertilizer for tomatoes depends on the elements unique to your soil and whether your soil lacks nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium. But, when it comes to avoiding splitting, too much nitrogen fertilizer might cause your tomatoes to develop too quickly and split.
Tomatoes may be picked as soon as they become slightly pink. This color shift indicates that the tomatoes have achieved their full size. Because tomatoes will continue to ripen even off the vine at this point, you can pick them and keep them at room temperature (ideally between 70 and 75 degrees F) till you’re ready to eat them. That said, you can leave them on the vine to keep ripening, but picking them early can safeguard them from unexpected rainstorms.
Can You Eat Split Tomatoes?
To summarize, most broken tomatoes are safe to consume. Nevertheless, consider the size and depth of the fracture. If the tomato split extends deep into the fruit, insects, bacteria, or fungus may have invaded the tomato. This is particularly true for fractures that extend vertically along the stem. Horizontal cracks, however, tend to be shallower and heal themselves more easily, which makes tomatoes with this kind of split more salvageable.
What to Do With Split Tomatoes
This should go without saying, but if you don’t want the damaged skin to show, just cut your tomatoes around the splits. You can use split tomatoes in recipes like Italian Stewed Tomatoes; Bell Pepper, Tomato, and Potato Indian Curry; Garden Tomato Salsa; Pizza Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes; Linguine Pasta with Shrimp and Tomatoes; and much more.
Why are my cherry tomatoes bursting after picking?
If there was a long period of dryness followed by a huge rain or sudden excessive overwatering, your cherry tomato crop may get too full of water and expand too rapidly for the tomato skin to respond, causing the outer skin to break under the pressure.
Can you eat cherry tomatoes that have split?
A split tomato may attract fruit flies and harbor fungus, mildew, and germs on the interior. If you’re canning tomatoes, skip the cracked tomatoes. However, cutting around the cracks of a tomato and using the good parts in salads, sandwiches, salsas and sauces is perfectly fine.
Should I remove split tomatoes?
If your tomatoes split, pick them up right away. Leaving them on the vine renders them vulnerable to tomato bugs and illnesses. You should take the fruits off the vines whether they are recoverable or not.
Can you still eat split tomatoes?
Savoring the Split
While removing damaged fruit makes it less aesthetically attractive, it is still suitable for use in processed and cooked meals.