Are Cracked Tomatoes Still Edible?

Three tomatoes, one of them cracked, growing on the vine

 SatrinaO / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I touched on cracked tomatoes in the post on three common tomato problems in the garden. In light of a recent weather change I thought it would be a good idea to revisit the topic and provide a bit more info. After extended dryness we've gotten a bit of moisture. The welcomed rain is unfortunately starting to cause some tomato cracking in the garden.

Let’s look at the causes of tomato cracks and ways you can salvage your harvest.

Two Types of Cracks

The tomato pictured above has concentric cracks. These develop in a circular pattern around where the tomato is attached to the stem.

Radial cracks in tomatoes are more severe and extend from the stem and down the sides of the tomato.

What Causes Tomato Cracking?

Cracks develop because of uneven watering. Dry weather followed by a rainy period or excessive watering will lead to cracks. The skin of the tomato can’t stretch to accommodate all the fluid building up inside the fruit.

Sometimes the tomato can “heal” itself and close the crack and you’ll see what looks like stitching, and other times the crack will worsen until your tomato is unusable. This tomato had a concentric crack that developed and sealed for the most part, when another crack developed horizontally.

Should You Throw Away Cracked Tomatoes?

Depending on the severity of the cracking the tomato can still be eaten. A tomato that has split open can attract fruit flies, and develop fungus, mold, and bacteria inside. Skip the cracked tomatoes if you’re doing any tomato canning. However, cutting around the cracks of a tomato and using the good parts in salads, sandwiches, salsas and sauces is perfectly fine. The taste of the tomato isn’t affected in the parts that aren’t cracked.

If you see a tomato that is close to ripening begin to crack remove it and let it continue ripening on a windowsill or kitchen counter. Leaving it on the vine will just make the situation worse as the plant continues to absorb water.

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