Are Green Tomatoes Poisonous? Do they possess any danger? Let’s know all in this article!
It’s the time of the year when tomatoes start ripening; some turn red, and a few remain green on plants. Can you eat them? Or are green tomatoes poisonous?
There needs to be more consistency among people regarding this. A group in favor believes that there is nothing harm in eating green tomatoes, the same as red ones, and others believe that green tomatoes are poisonous and you should not eat them!
Let’s have a more profound knowledge of the basis of this discrepancy and whether green tomatoes are safe to eat.
Life Cycle Of A Tomato Plant
Tomatoes belong to the family of angiosperms. Every seed of the tomato plant can produce one complete tomato plant. The seed germinates, and the roots start growing in the ground.
The seed leaves start growing toward the sun, and the leaves start maturing. As more leaves mature, the flower bud appears yellow.
After pollination and fertilization, the little tomatoes start growing on the plant. They are green and hard and gradually turn bright red to attract humans and animals.
This was just an overview of the overall tomato growth. But let’s understand the formation of tomatoes and the toxins they contain before they mature.
What Are Alkaloids (Tomatine)? Are They Safe For Humans?
Most of the vegetables and herbs you use in your daily routine meals contain toxins. That is why many people get ill after eating carrots and spinach.
The reason is that the plants, when their fruits are not fully mature, use toxins to protect themselves against predators. But don’t worry about the unripe fruits you ate before!
Because we human beings have the natural tendency to digest plant poisons.
When the fruit of the plant (in this case, tomato) is in the initial stage of its maturity, it is green. The green color is to protect it from plucking.
Did You Know? Why The Unripe Fruits Have A Bitter Taste?
This is because they contain toxins, including solanine, in the case of tomatoes especially. That is why the taste is bitter and deterring.
Solanine (alkaloid) is a group of chemicals containing thousands of active substances used as protectors by plants. Interestingly, many of such chemicals are used in medicines in smaller quantities, for example, for pain relief.
Remember: Too much consumption of unripe fruit can result in severe sickness.
Do Mature Tomato Plants Contain Toxins?
As mentioned earlier, green tomatoes contain toxins but are not as concentrated to prove fatal for humans. Tomatoes belong to the family Solanaceae, known for their poisonous plants, some of which are deadly.
But when the tomatoes start ripening, the quantity of the toxin starts getting low and ultimately becomes zero when the fruit is fully ripe.
The changing color of the fruit is an invitation to fruit-eating animals and humans that ‘come and eat me’!
When animals/birds eat fruits, they throw the seeds here and there, and the seeds get dispersed and grow into plants later. Similarly, humans eat fruits and either drop the seeds or release them in feces.
Are Green Tomatoes Bad For You?
Are green tomatoes bad for you? The direct answer to this is complicated, as it entirely depends on the quantity you consume.
Let’s discuss how much unripe tomato is not bad and the maximum limit beyond which it can cause severe damage to your health.
Consuming more than 0.20 grams of solanine (a toxin found in unripe tomatoes) can cause dizziness and stomach disturbance.
Do you know? An unripe green tomato may contain 0.009 to 0.03 grams of solanine per 100 grams of tomato.
As solanine tastes bitter, no one would intentionally eat it in larger quantities.
Semi-ripe tomatoes that are turning red but have a green shade in them contain 0.019 grams of solanine which is considerably lower than the green immature tomato.
When the tomatoes are fully ripe, they only contain 0.0007 grams of solanine which is almost negligible.
Do you know? Eating green tomatoes with more than 0.39 grams of solanine collectively can be lethal.
Can You Eat Green Tomatoes?
Can you eat green tomatoes? The answer is yes! But restrict yourself from eating them in larger quantities.
In some parts of the world, green tomatoes are picked and used in jam and pickles. So, do not consume them in large quantities; you can eat a piece in jam or pickle.
Does Cooking/Boiling Kill Toxins In Tomatoes?
Cooks who know of vegetables’ toxins never use green tomatoes in their recipes; they prefer ripe ones. But most of them don’t even know why green tomatoes are bitter.
Are green tomatoes poisonous when they are cooked? Yes, because solanine is heat resistant. It remains as in cooked/boiled tomatoes as in unripe green tomatoes.
But green tomatoes are used in smaller quantities in the recipes, so that is digestible by humans easily.
Also, when unripe tomatoes are cooked with other vegetables or ingredients, the alkaloids quantity gets diluted, and they become significantly less toxic. Similarly,
If you boil green tomatoes by adding extra water and then drain the water after boiling, the toxicity drains away, and the soft part of the tomato is less toxic.
Remember: Try to boil or cook green tomatoes by adding extra water and other vegetables; it will make them less toxic.
Can We Turn Green Tomatoes Red?
There are many areas in the world where usually the temperatures are cold. It becomes difficult for the vegetables to become mature on plants. So, they pluck and store them in many ways.
For the green tomatoes that have not turned red yet, there is no chance of them turning red o plants in cold weather. You can turn them red after picking from plants; here’s how!
One of the easiest ways is to place them in a well-ventilated room. Make sure the temperature is average and not too cold. Keep checking the tomatoes from time to time and discard the softer ones.
Did you know? Green tomatoes turn red within two to three weeks at room temperature.
Another way to speed up the process of ripening tomatoes is by placing them in a brown bag or jar with bananas because bananas produce ethylene, which helps tomatoes ripe faster.
If you have only a few and want to test how the green tomatoes turn red, add two to three green tomatoes with one banana in a bag. Close the bag/jar properly. Keep checking it frequently because sometimes the tomatoes rip earlier than expected and start to rot.
You may also change the banana when needed.
If you have tomatoes in larger quantities, you can use the same ripening method as above. Place the tomatoes in a larger box and place 1 to two ripe bananas. Place the box away from sunlight at an average or even colder temperature. The tomatoes will start turning red within a week or so.
Ripe Tomatoes Are Healthy
Rich in antioxidants, eating ripe tomatoes is healthy and beneficial. Tomatoes are rich in vitamins C, K, potassium, and folate.
Tomatoes come in various colors, including red, yellow, purple, and orange. They are rich in water and contain around 95% water (per 100 grams of raw tomato).
It is beneficial for avoiding several diseases, including Diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer.
Tomatoes also treat skin diseases and are very beneficial. Other than that, they are used in almost all dishes and enhance their taste.
Do Green Tomatoes Cause Gastrointestinal Distress?
As mentioned earlier, how are green tomatoes poisonous? Let’s explore another side of eating green tomatoes.
If you still eat them, do they cause gastrointestinal distress?
The illness you’ll get or not depends on your sensitivity to tomatoes. You may get gastrointestinal distress if you are allergic or sensitive to tomatoes.
Some people are susceptible to alkaloids and feel nauseous when eating ripe red tomatoes. So, eating green tomatoes may cause sickness in them.
A better way is to use and eat red tomatoes. If the tomatoes are green and there is colder ahead, pick and turn them red by using any of the methods of ripening tomatoes explained above.
Never Feed Green Tomatoes To Pets!
Pets want to eat everything humans eat before them, but not everything is healthy for them.
So, what about green tomatoes?
Never feed your dog or cat green tomatoes, as tomatoes contain solanine, a toxin that can cause severe illness in pets.
Solanine and tomatine are found in the green parts of the tomato plant. So, keep your dog from eating leaves, stem, or green tomato.
The dogs, if they eat green tomatoes, can acquire tomatine poisoning. The dog may start looking tired, have muscle weakness, and sometimes, seizures may occur.
This article covers ‘are green tomatoes poisonous.’ Yes, they are quite toxic as they contain solanine (tomatine). If consumed in larger quantities can be poisonous.
Can you eat green tomatoes? Yes, but a piece or two of it in jam or pickle. Don’t try to eat them raw, as their taste is also bitter.
Do mature tomatoes also contain toxins? Yes, but in negligible amounts. They are safe for humans.
Also, cooking/boiling tomatoes in their juices do not kill the toxins unless extra water/other vegetables are added.
The article also covers how to turn green tomatoes to red at home.
Remember: Never feed green tomatoes to your pets.
Have more questions related to ‘are green tomatoes poisonous?’ Here are the answers to a few of the frequently asked questions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it ok to eat green tomatoes?
Yes, it is ok to consume green tomatoes in small quantities. But eating in more significant quantities may cause problems.
Are unripe green tomatoes good for you?
They are suitable for your immunity as your body fights against the toxins making your immune system stronger.
How to eat green tomatoes?
You can eat green tomatoes in chutney, pickles, fried vegetables, roasted vegetables, or salad.
Are green tomatoes poisonous to dogs?
Yes, green tomatoes are poisonous to dogs. They cause tomatine poisoning in them.
Are pickled/fried green tomatoes safe to eat?
Yes, they are safe to eat as other vegetables lessen the toxins present in green tomatoes.
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