Understanding Food Storage: The Science Behind Why Tomatoes Split

You must have noticed ruptured tomatoes among a set you once purchased and wondered what caused the split. The answer to that question can be found in this short brief.

By Cookist

Tomatoes are great ingredients that many people can not go without using. Unfortunately they are perishable and you have to be watchful to ensure none that is spoiled is consumed.

A tomato splitting open does not necessarily mean that it is getting spoiled. In fact tomatoes usually only split open when the fruit inside is growing much more rapidly than the tomato’s skin.

This is usually caused by a sudden influx in the amount of water the tomatoes are receiving. Perhaps you were watering inconsistently, or  there was a sudden heavy rain that produced a deluge.


Regardless of the reason, it’s most common when there’s been a long dry period rapidly followed by a lot of water.

This problem is usually observed in tomatoes that are nearly ripe. As tomatoes get close to ripeness, their skin doesn’t grow as quickly.

However the plant will attempt to get more water into the fruit nonetheless, and that leads to the skin splitting open to expose the fruit. This type of cracking is referred to as radial cracking.

In the case of heirloom tomatoes, you have an extra reason to ask “why do my tomatoes split”.

You see, a price must be paid for all of that flavor. Many heirloom varieties, especially the big beefsteak types, get cracked in concentric circles around the top of the fruit as they grow and mature on the vine.

In most cases, these are fine cracks or lines on tomatoes rather than the deep tomato cracks down the sides. This is just the plant trying to make the fruit as nice and juicy as possible for you.

Also note that some heirloom tomatoes crack along the sides too.

Every dish has a story
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