Why Are Tomato Skins Tough? (Causes And Solutions)

Tomatoes, one of the most popular fruits and vegetables. They’re used for a variety of dishes such as salads, sandwiches, sauces, and even desserts.

However, sometimes growing tomatoes can be challenging because they have hardened skins.

There are many reasons why this happens but it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy delicious tomatoes on your salad or sandwich.

Let’s find out more about this unique problem and how you can solve it in this article.

Why are tomato skins tough?

Tomatoes often have tough skins if they are exposed to too much heat, or placed under the sun for a long time.

They can also have tough skins when they have diseases like anthracnose and a disease type called curly top caused by viruses.

Also, there are certain types such as Roma tomatoes are bred to have thicker skins. That way, they can repel the damages done by insects significantly.

Now, let’s explore each one of these reasons in-depth.

Why Are Tomato Skins Tough

Too much heat can cause tough skins in tomatoes

When this happens, the tomato fruit will defend itself. It is with its tough skin that the tomato protects itself from harsh elements.

Too much heat can also cause problems when it is combined with dry conditions. With these conditions, the skin of the tomato will thicken up and be difficult to eat because there is no water in them for you to chew or peel off.

Tomatoes ripen better when the temperature is at a certain level. If it is really hot, tomatoes might not fully ripen or they can have thick skin.

The best temperature for tomatoes to ripen is from 70-75°F. When the temperature gets higher, like in the 80s and 90s, the ripening process slows down a lot.

Tomatoes need water to grow. And if the soil is dry, it will make the tomato’s skin hard and thick. So make sure that you water your plants. Apply some mulch to help the soil not be so dry. Drip irrigation can help too, but make sure that your plant does not get too wet.

One other cause is that it has not ripened enough.

This usually is caused when lycopene and carotene are not replacing chlorophyll. If it gets too hot, the tomatoes do not produce enough substances, so they stop growing and ripening.

Green shoulders are when the top of a tomato is not ripe. This happens sometimes when there is too much heat. Tomatoes with this are firmer than less ripe tomatoes. If there is not enough heat, tomatoes will have thick skin.

Tomato plants need shade to avoid too much heat, and using shade cloths can help with that.

Extreme sunlight can harden the skins of your tomatoes

Sunlight can make tomato skin tough. If the sun is strong, the fruit’s temperature will be hot. This makes the skin tough. You can control this by putting a plant cover around it or planting in a shady area.

Sunlight is a major cause for the skin of tomatoes to blister and peel off in white and tan patches. This is called sunscald. The same effect when we get sunburn.

When a plant doesn’t have many leaves on it, the sunlight can burn some of them. If this happens, then the plant will be more susceptible to sunscald because there won’t be enough leaves blocking the harmful sunlight.

Again, using shade cloths counter this problem, especially when it’s summer hot and sunny outside.

Diseases can also make your tomato skins tough

Anthracnose

This fungus causes tomatoes to rot. However, it only affects the fruit. The remaining parts are unaffected.

If you remove any infected fruit, then the rest can continue growing healthily. You can compost or feed the rotten ones to your poultries after cutting away the affected parts.

This fungus mostly affects fruits when they are damaged. So try not to cut or bruise them when you are harvesting. This fungus is not only applied to tomatoes, and it can also affect other vegetables in your garden.

According to many studies, it grows well at 68-75 degrees Celsius with wet conditions for prolonged periods.

To prevent this from affecting your whole garden, don’t water plants from the above. Water the plants’ base instead.

Curly top virus

This virus is spread by beet leafhoppers. It affects the whole plant and it’s very hard to find an effective cure for this. It causes yellow leaves and stops plant growth.

You will find your tomatoes ripen prematurely and have a bitter taste, along with tough and leathery skin. If you have beets in your garden, make sure to take care of them carefully because they are near tomatoes.

If you have an infected plant, it’s best to remove it or destroy it so that beet leafhoppers won’t infect other plants with this nasty virus.

Tomato varieties that have tough skins

Some tomatoes can have thick skins, types like Roma, San Marzano, etc. are prime examples. This means they are not as easy to crack. Sometimes, this is because the grower wants thicker skin.

You can try heirloom varieties if thick skin ones are not your type. Some heirloom types of tomatoes have thin skins, but they can be more easily split open.

Heirloom tomatoes with thinner skin include Cherokee Purple. It is important to remember that if they do crack, it will not hurt the taste of the tomato.

Hybrid types of tomatoes also have thin skins such as the Brandy Boy type. It has a similar flavor as the Brandywine tomato.

Can you make hardened tomato skins softer?

Tomatoes can be hard-skinned. But you cannot soften the skin. If you have a sharp knife, put it in hot water, but not boiling water.

Put the tomato into the hot water for about 15 seconds then put it into cold water for 2 minutes. Then use your knife to pull off the skin or just peel it off with your hands!

Bring a pot of water to a boil and wash the tomatoes. Let the water cool for about ten minutes. Then put one tomato at a time in the pot and let it cook for one minute. The skin should start to peel away from the tomato.

When you cook the tomatoes, they will get softer. So you put them in cold water to stop this. As they cool, the skin will separate from the flesh even more.

When they are cooled enough, you can peel them completely. You may now cook them as you wish or use them in a salad if they have not gone too soft yet and need to be used up quickly before going bad.

Blending the tomatoes is also a good choice. There are two ways to do this. One way is by using an immersion blender or a counter-top one.

The only problem with this method is that it will result in more lycopene (a yellowish color) and after you mix it in air, the result will be orange instead of red. This does not affect the flavor of your food, but it might affect how it looks.

You can also remove tomato skins if you want them to be blended. If you have other questions about cooking other foods, check the links below!

Conclusion

Now you know the reasons tomatoes might have thick skins are because:

  • They’re exposed to too much sunlight
  • The heat around them are way too hot
  • They might have diseases from viruses and insects
  • Or it’s just a matter of varieties

I hope this article is helpful to you.

Mariana Rouco

Mariana Rouco is the editor-in-chief of Elpasony.com. She loves traveling and writing about foods and cooking in general. She has a degree from the New England Culinary Institute and enjoys Mexican, Italian, and Chinese cuisines the most.

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