Red Tomatoes are green inside: Are they safe to eat?

Have you ever pondered upon the rationale behind the green interiors of seemingly red tomatoes? The crux of the matter lies in the intricacies of the fruit’s ripening process.

During maturation, tomatoes emit a colorless and odorless gas, famously known as ethylene. The presence of this gas accelerates the process of ripening, eventually leading to a transition from green to red hue. The absence of ethylene, on the contrary, causes tomatoes to remain in the preliminary green stage.

Averting such a situation, supermarkets adopt a sophisticated approach, confining their tomatoes to ethylene-controlled rooms, ensuring impeccable ripening. Why are some tomatoes turning green on the inside? And if the tomatoes are green on the inside, are they still safe to eat? Continue reading to find out more.

Why are Some Tomatoes Green Inside?

Most tomatoes that you purchase from the grocery store are red, but some are green. If you cut into a green tomato, you might be wondering why the inside is green. 

One reason is due to inadequate exposure to sunlight. The tomato plant necessitates sunshine to generate lycopene, which is responsible for the vibrant red hue. If the fruit is concealed from sunlight by leaves, it won’t produce as much lycopene and will be green.

Another possible explanation is a genetic mutation. Certain tomato plants possess a mutation that induces the production of chlorophyll, which is what imparts the green color to plants. Although it is necessary for photosynthesis, it does not absorb light in the same manner as lycopene, giving the tomato a green appearance.

So, what causes some tomatoes to be green inside? The reasons are manifold and vary from inadequate sunlight exposure to genetic mutations.

Other Reasons a Tomato Is Red on the Outside but Green on the Inside

Water stress 

Insufficient hydration can cause tomatoes to display verdant hues in their interiors, aside from the conventional coloration of red. The lack of moisture disallows the necessary nutrients to penetrate the fruit, hindering the proper development of the tomato.

Apart from tomatoes, water deprivation can also afflict other fruits, including melons and grapes. When these fruits don’t receive sufficient water, they can end up withering and shrinking.

Water stress poses a grave predicament that can impact an extensive range of plants. It is thus crucial to ensure that plants receive ample hydration to encourage their optimal growth.


Infected tomatoes can harbor a secret malady – some diseases, like verticillium wilt, can turn them green from within. Although seemingly harmless, the truth is that it can spell trouble for the tomato’s taste.

In terms of flavor, diseased tomatoes usually lack the vivacity that a healthy tomato brings. This is due to the disease’s interference with the tomato’s sugar production – the result is a less sweet and less savory tomato.

The impact of diseases on tomato flavor is not just limited to the taste buds. Diseases can trigger the production of excessive acids in the tomato, leading to a tart and sour taste. Moreover, the natural aromas that tomatoes possess can be siphoned off, dampening the flavor profile of the tomato.

The verdict is clear: diseases can disrupt the delicate balance of tomato flavor, which can be a cause for concern. For tomato lovers, it’s essential to be aware of the hazards that these diseases can bring to their beloved produce.

Temperature changes

Tomatoes that experience drastic changes in temperature can turn green on the inside. This is because the temperature changes can cause the tomato to ripen unevenly. The green parts of the tomato are the parts that have yet to ripen properly.


In the realm of tomato growing, an overabundance of nitrogen within the soil can provoke a most perplexing and disconcerting conundrum – the emergence of green pigmentation on the interior of the fruit.

The primary issue with a surplus of nitrogen pertains to its encroachment upon the absorption of a multitude of other pivotal nutrients, such as the precious lycopene.

Ergo, it would not be outside the realm of possibility for one to ponder the cause of the perplexing greenness that now afflicts their cherished tomato. Such an anomaly could, in fact, be a byproduct of one of the aforementioned concerns.

How to ripen green tomatoes?

Green tomatoes can be made ripe indoors with some tricks. The process can be a bit tricky and diverse, but one of the best methods involves using either an apple or a banana, which can quickly ripen the tomatoes.

Firstly, give your green tomatoes a thorough wash, eliminating any imperfections. To avoid damaging the healthy parts of the tomato, use a sharp knife to cut out only the blemishes. Once this has been done, find a suitable ripening bowl that can accommodate all the tomatoes and one or two apples. It could be a salad bowl or any big bowl.

Add the green tomatoes into the bowl and one or two apples, as apples release ethylene gas, which can speed up the ripening process. The more apples added, the faster the tomatoes will ripen. Cover the bowl with a piece of cloth or a plate and place it in a cool, dark place like a cupboard.

It is essential to check the tomatoes every day and remove any that have ripened. After several days, you should have a bowl of ripe, juicy tomatoes available for use in various recipes.

For additional methods, please watch the instructional video below.

Are green tomatoes safe to eat?

There exists a conflict of reports regarding the consumption of green tomatoes, with some claiming that it is safe to do so, while others suggest it may lead to toxicity. So, where does the truth lie?

It is essential to acknowledge that there are two distinct types of green tomatoes – unripe tomatoes and green bell peppers. Unripe tomatoes are yet to ripen and remain firm and acidic. In contrast, green bell peppers are fully ripened bell peppers, but their genetic mutation causes them to turn green.

Is it safe to consume unripe tomatoes? Technically, yes, as they are not toxic. However, due to their high acidity, they can be challenging to digest. If you intend to eat unripe tomatoes, cooking them beforehand will assist in reducing their acidity.

Are green bell peppers also safe to consume? The answer is affirmative. In fact, many individuals prefer the taste of green bell peppers compared to the more common red or yellow varieties. Therefore, if you seek a different flavor option, green bell peppers are undoubtedly worth giving a try!

Experts’ opinion on this topic (Source – Quora)

Sure it is safe. As most of the responses from below have stated, there are varieties of tomato that are green on the inside and red on the outside, as well as green tomatoes being sliced, dipped in bread crumbs and deep fried, or pickled green tomatoes.

– Kerry Berger (former Professional Chef )

Yes. Some tomatoes are naturally green even when completely ripe (e.g. Green Zebra). Red tomatoes can be eaten when unripe in complete safety. Fried green tomatoes is a classic dish of the Southern US.

– Alexander Grimwade (Penn State Extension Master Gardener and avid tomato grower)

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