Ripe Tomatoes with Green Ends: What to Do?

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ripe tomatoes with green ends

With a kitchen garden, you are probably already growing several fruits and vegetables. However, ripe tomatoes are a hard one since their ends may remain green and it is difficult to ripen them fully.

In fact, growing tomatoes come with a lot of effort and also problems.

So when you deal with all the problems, you are certainly expecting fully ripe tomatoes but here there is an area near the stem that does not change color and is still green.

If you have a ripe tomato plant that still has green ends, this article is for you.

Keep reading to know how you can ripen them fully.

green and yellow shoulders on ripe tomatoes

Checking for Green and Yellow Shoulders

What is a green or yellow shoulder?

Well, when the tomato is fully ripe but its stem end still has a green or yellow color rather than red, it is known as green shoulder.

This is different from green tomatoes that are unripe.

This green and yellow discoloration at the stem end is rather firmer than the rest of the fruit (yes tomato is a fruit!).

Hence, it is easily noticeable in tomatoes that turn red, orange or yellow when they are fully ripe.

Though, it can also form in tomatoes that are supposed to be green in color.

Some of the tomatoes are naturally more prone to the shoulders.

These include heirloom tomatoes that are more susceptible to getting green shoulders rather than hybrid tomatoes due to their breeding.

What’s more, some varieties of tomatoes are also expected to have green shoulders.

This includes the Cherokee Purple where it is normal for the stem end to stay green while the rest of the tomato is ripe.

Though most varieties of tomatoes are not supposed to have it.

One way to check it is to touch the stem end.

If it is hard to touch and not only green in color, it is a green shoulder.

Moreover, you can check by biting it.

If it lacks the same taste and sweetness as the rest of the fruit then it is surely a green shoulder.

Though, these are still edible.

You can eat the tomato by cutting off the green and yellow tops that are not edible.

So what causes the plant to not fully ripen in the same color?

Let’s find out more about this below!

green shoulders

What Causes Green Shoulders on Ripe Tomatoes?

Chlorophyll

Your tomatoes are ready to eat but they have this discoloration right on the stem which is unpleasing to look at.

One reason for the green color of tomatoes is the presence of chlorophyll.

Usually, chlorophyll breaks down in an unripe tomato by the time it is at the blossoming end.

It then continues around and up the tomato fruit.

However, chlorophyll is also responsible for the green color of plants and leaves.

So the presence of the green shoulders indicates that the chlorophyll did not break down properly.

Excessive heat prevents the breakdown of chlorophyll whereas the tomato plant needs sun to ripen.

There can be too much direct sun exposure and high temperatures that slow down the breakdown of chlorophyll.

Though chlorophyll is not the only reason behind the green shoulders, there’s also lycopene.

Lycopene 

Lycopene is the plant pigment that is responsible for giving the red color to tomatoes.

The presence of green shoulders can indicate inhibiting lycopene development.

Lycopene production happens at an ideal temperature between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Its production and development inhibit if the temperatures rise above 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Now tomatoes actually do like the sun.

They can tolerate temperatures above 75 degrees Fahrenheit but the fruits is rather sensitive.

The direct exposure if the fruit to the sun affects the shoulders.

The upper portion which is the shoulder area gets the most sun and heat.

Hence, the temperatures in the fruit rise.

Therefore, the lycopene production in the fruit inhibits due to the rising temperatures.

If you do not take any precautionary measures then these areas will remain green.

The lycopene development is hindered so the same temperature conditions will keep on affecting the overall plant and keep the shoulders green.

yellow shoulders on tomato

Yellow Shoulders on Ripe Tomatoes

Like green shoulders, there are yellow shoulders on ripe tomatoes too.

The yellow pigment does not occur because of chlorophyll but lycopene and another pigment carotene.

The stem ends remaining yellow indicate that the fruit was not producing lycopene.

Inhibited growth of lycopene interfered with the red pigmentation of the tomatoes.

Besides giving tomatoes its red color, lycopene contributes to its antioxidant properties.

While tomatoes like sun and heat, lycopene product and development are optimal at 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

When temperatures exceed 75 degrees Fahrenheit, lycopene production slows down or can stop.

Thus, it can cause both yellow or green pigment.

However, the cause for yellow shoulders is most probably carotene.

Like lycopene, carotene is a pigment that produces yellow and orange colors.

However, unlike lycopene, it is not as affected by heat.

It is not sensitive to light or heat but when the sun strikes the tomato tops, the carotene takes over the lycopene.

Thus the yellow pigment emerges on the shoulders rather than the red pigment.

The lower part of the tomatoes does not get direct sunlight exposure, hence, it remains red.

Whereas the top parts of the fruit become yellow-orange or yellow-white.

Thus these colors prevail with the top and shoulders being yellow in color with shades of white and orange.

Whereas the rest of the fruit is bright red in color like the usual ripe tomatoes.

All in all, rising temperatures and pigments are the main culprit.

The high temperatures inhibit the pigments and can affect the even ripening of the tomato.

Lesser carotene will mean that the shoulders will be green while higher carotene suggests that the shoulders will be yellow.

However, it is avoidable and preventable.

It is possible to protect the plants from direct sun.

Let’s know about this more below!

preventing green shoulders in ripe tomatoes

How to Prevent Green and Yellow Shoulders

The best way to go about it is to prevent these green and yellow shoulders before occurring.

For instance, if you have had a record of growing tomatoes with green and yellow shoulders, you are already aware that your growing conditions regarding temperatures expose them to have green and yellow shoulders.

Once they appear, it is too late to fix them.

So you can only prevent them from occurring in the first place.

Choosing Plant Varieties Carefully 

Experiment with the plant varieties, choosing those that are less prone to green and yellow shoulders.

Some varieties have a tendency to acquire green and yellow shoulders.

They affect heirloom varieties more than hybrids.

There is variation over the years in hybrid plants, though not all heirloom varieties are prone to it.

While tomatoes wouldn’t exactly be labeled if they are resistant to green and yellow shoulders, their descriptions can help you find out if there is a chance the green shoulders may develop.

Hence, go for varieties that are less likely to be slow ripening on the top shoulder parts.

Reduce Pruning 

Minimize pruning so that there is a lot of foliage to provide shade and shield to the plant.

Give them good leaf cover and plant densely.

Even if the tomato plant enjoys plenty of sunshine, it does not have to necessarily shine directly on the tomatoes.

If the summers are extremely hot, they will appreciate some shade.

In fact, shade plants in the afternoon when usually the temperatures are the hottest but the fruit is already ripening.

Picking Them Earlier 

In hot summers, pick them up early when they are starting to blush red.

At this time bring them out of the sun into the shade garden to complete ripening.

Though some flavor will be compromised.

ripe tomatoes with green shoulders

Eating Ripe Tomatoes with Green Shoulders

When you cannot prevent the damage, there are already plenty of tomatoes with yellow and green shoulders.

You certainly shouldn’t be discarding food in your kitchen garden when all they have is some green shoulders.

This part of the tomato is surely hard and tastes bad however, it is still edible.

All you need to do is to cut around the hard unripened top and munch the rest away.

Avoid the tough and bitter area that is green and yellow in color.

The rest is still fine and you can enjoy it as usual.

red tomato

What Else You Can Do to Protect Your Tomatoes? 

  • Plant them next to an east-facing wall. This way they will get the morning sun but protect against the afternoon harsh sun rays.
  • Put a shade of cloth and adjust the transparency and density of the material.
  • Hybrid plants are hardy and disease-resistant. Its fruit is consistent in shape and size. So using these will give you even produce that does not have green shoulders.
  • Early pick your tomatoes when the red pigment peaks through the green. Leave them on your counter, here they produce ethylene gas that ripens them.
  • Put the tomatoes with fruits such as bananas and apples that release ethylene which will help ripen them.

Finally, 

The best ripe tomatoes are without green and yellow shoulders.

Hence, produce and consume those by preventing the green ends timely.

 

 

 

 

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