You know the old saying, don’t cry over split tomatoes? Or something like that…
Why Do Tomatoes Split?
Fruits may split while they’re growing due to changes in their hydration status.
a rain gauge. Summer crops are sure to need some extra help in terms of irrigation during periods of hot and dry weather.
Keep in mind that container-grown plants will need more frequent watering, since the soil will dry out more quickly than it does for plants grown in the ground.
Using drip irrigation and setting a timer on your sprinkler system when you go on vacation can help to keep your plants hydrated and happy.
You can read more about watering tomato plants here, and learn more about what causes fruit to split and how to prevent cracking (coming soon!).
Can You Eat Cracked Tomatoes?
Yes, but not always.
onto the compost pile or into the garbage is recommended.
Again, better safe than sorry where bacteria and fungi are involved.
Time is also an important element. If you notice a split, try to pick the damaged fruit as soon as you are able to.
Leaving it on the vine longer, outside in the sun, increases the risk of bacterial or fungal growth and infection.
Savoring the Split
If you are able to save a few tomatoes that only have minor splits, first off, cheers to you! The fruits of your labor have paid off, and you were able to overcome a common but frustrating gardening obstacle.
Now, what should you do with them?
Cutting away damaged pieces of the fruit may make them visually less appealing, but they’re still perfect for use in processed and cooked recipes.
In fact, cooking fresh fruit that was slightly damaged and bringing it to the boiling point can be safer than eating it fresh, as an extra fail-safe in terms of food quality.
Try making your own homemade pasta sauce, cooked juice, or ketchup. You could even use your harvest in a soup or stew, like this one from our sister site, Foodal that’s easy to whip up in just 20 minutes, and flavored with fresh basil.
Jam is another tasty cooked option, but keep in mind that you should not can or put up preserves made with bruised or damaged produce.
Instead, try a quick preserve that is cooked and then stored in the refrigerator (rather than for longer periods on the shelf) like this sweet and savory tomato jam from Foodal. It’s delicious on grilled cheese sandwiches!
If you want to continue savoring the tomato goodness (split or not), take a look at these articles next:
Tori Vallana, RD, LDN
Tori Vallana is a registered dietitian with a passion for making food and nutrition simple. She holds an associate’s degree in baking and pastry arts as well as a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics. Tori loves perusing her local farmers market to find high-quality produce and encourages her patients to do the same!