Tomatoes are a very popular food, but they are not one that lasts for a long time. If you have ever come to a punnet of tomatoes and found yourself annoyed or disappointed by the contents, you might be wondering whether wrinkly tomatoes are okay to eat.
Can you eat wrinkled tomatoes? Yes, wrinkled tomatoes should be fine to eat as long as they do not have any visible breaks in the skin, and no mold is growing on them. They are often not as pleasant as fresh tomatoes, but they are safe to consume and can also be used up in cooking, which will disguise the loss of texture quite effectively.
Can You Eat Wrinkled Tomatoes?
Yes, you can eat wrinkled tomatoes, but you should do so with some care. The wrinkling is a sign that the tomato is past its best, and therefore you do need to inspect it for any further signs that it has gone off.
To do this, take the tomato out of its container and examine it. Look for breaks in the skin, dark spots, or soft areas. If you see any of these signs, or mold growing on the surface of the tomato, it is time to compost the tomato; it should not be eaten.
If, however, the tomato seems otherwise okay, it is safe to eat it in spite of the wrinkled skin. The tomato does need to be used up soon, though, and any others in the punnet are probably about to turn bad too. Make sure you use them quickly, or they may start to turn moldy.
If you are still doubtful, it’s a good idea to cut a tomato open and smell the inside. It should still smell sweet and tomato-y. It should not have a sour or rancid scent. You can taste a little too. If the tomato smells or tastes off, compost it instead of using it up.
On large tomatoes, it may be safe to cut off brown or soft spots, as long as they are localized and the rest of the tomato is good. These usually occur as the result of bruises or other damage, and may not affect the rest of the fruit.
Are Wrinkled Tomatoes Nice to Eat?
Many people find that wrinkled tomatoes are not quite as nice to eat fresh, because their texture is somewhat mushy, and some of their flavor may be gone. Like all overripe fruits, they tend to be too sweet, rather than tart, and this puts some people off.
It is also a problem that the skin of the tomato, as it loses moisture, will become tough, and many people find that this results in a chewy mouthful, where bits of skin get stuck between the teeth or prove impossible to break up.
However, wrinkled tomatoes are absolutely perfect for cooking with, because that sweetness works really well in cooked dishes.
That means if you have wrinkled tomatoes, it’s time to break out a pan! You can fry them with mushrooms for a delicious breakfast, or you can stir them into pasta sauces, homemade tomato soup, shakshuka, salsa, and any other sauces. Some people even make their own tomato ketchup!
Cooking the tomato will solve all the issues with the texture, too. Instead of it seeming mushy and watery, it will taste just as it should, because cooking always breaks down the tomato and stops it from being firm.
Similarly, the skin will get softened by the cooking process, as the heat will break down the cell walls and reduce the toughness – so wrinkled tomatoes are absolutely perfect when cooked.
Why Do Tomatoes Become Wrinkly?
You might be wondering what causes the skin of a tomato to pucker up as it ages. Usually, this is a sign that the tomato is dehydrating. It will no longer be as juicy, because it is losing water to evaporation.
When you first pick tomatoes, they are plump with water from the plant, and the plant constantly supplies this by taking up water from its roots and giving it to the fruit. Once it has been picked, however, the tomato gets no more water, and it will gradually become drier and drier.
Drying is actually a method of preserving tomatoes, and in itself, it does not present any mold risks, which is why wrinkled tomatoes are safe to eat. However, old tomatoes will mold if they aren’t dried with care.
What If You Can See Traces of Mold Around the Wrinkles?
You should not eat tomatoes if you can see mold on them. This will usually appear as soft white fuzz (or brown/black fuzz), either around the top of the tomato (where the stem was) or along any breaks in the skin. As soon as the skin of a tomato is broken, bacteria can get in, and will start to spread.
Discard any tomatoes that show signs of mold. They should not be eaten. You shouldn’t wash away the mold and eat the tomato, because the mold will be inside the fruit too, and it could make you sick. The tomato will not taste good, either, and it is best to compost it.
If you have tomatoes at home, it’s a good idea to regularly check them for any that are turning bad. A single bad tomato can ruin a whole bowl full, so remove any bad ones and rinse the others if this happens.
How Long Do Tomatoes Last?
It depends on how you store them. Tomatoes kept in the pantry will often only last about five days, while those kept in the fridge should last about a week. However, tomatoes taste much better when eaten at room temperature, so if you are storing them in the fridge, allow them to warm up before you consume them!
Wrinkled tomatoes are perfectly safe to eat either raw or cooked, but they generally taste better and have a nicer texture if you cook them. This prevents toughness, mushiness, or the overripe flavor from being a problem.
Simply rinse the tomatoes and toss them into a pan to cook them.