Don’t Throw Them Out Yet: Best Uses For Bruised Tomatoes


What To Do With Bruised Tomatoes

Tomato season is upon us. You may have gotten some tomatoes from the farmer’s market, your neighbor’s garden, or perhaps you grew your own. Either way, you may encounter some tomatoes that appear less-than-perfect on the exterior, especially if they are at their peak of ripeness. Keep in mind that this is when they taste their absolute best, so don’t dismay at superficial blemishes as there are lots of uses for bruised tomatoes and uses for split tomatoes.

A bruised tomato is not necessarily a spoiled tomato. Damage can come from handling the tomato too roughly. In this case, simply cut off the bruised area and chop the tomato up and use for a fresh tomato salad or use for tomato recipes like Pico De Gallo (see recipe below). Pico De Gallo is a great way to enjoy other summer vegetables like cilantro, onions, and hot peppers.

If a tomato actually has a black spot on it that can’t be rubbed off like dirt, then it is probably a bit of mold. In this case, the USDA recommends cutting off about an inch past the spoiled or molded portion of the vegetable. When cutting, avoid running the knife through the mold so that you don’t contaminate the rest of the tomato. Throw away the molded portion and use the remainder just as you would any fresh tomato. A truly spoiled tomato usually starts leaking juice, indicating that it is time to toss the tomato for food safety reasons.

Freeze Your Tomatoes The Right Way

Fresh tomatoes should be stored at room temperature. If you have an abundance of fresh garden tomatoes at risk of spoiling before using, freezing some for later is a good idea. In this case, you will want to peel the tomato first by dipping the tomatoes into boiling water until the skin splits, which is usually a minute. Then scoop them out with a ladle and cool them quickly in cold water.

This will allow the skin to peel right off. Then quarter the tomatoes and place them in freezer bags. Label and date the bags, then freeze for up to 6 months. These can be substituted for canned tomatoes in most recipes.

You can learn more tips on freezing tomatoes here.

Tomato Recipes You Can Try This Season

You can make a simple tomato sauce by chopping peeled tomatoes and simmering them down into a sauce, then add some olive oil and basil or Italian herbs for flavor. This simple tomato recipe can be used for many pasta dishes.

Tomatoes provide beta-carotene, vitamin C and a good dose of lycopene, which can help support healthy eyesight. Interestingly, cooked tomatoes may actually provide more lycopene then fresh tomatoes. Tomatoes are also high in water content, helping you keep hydrated during your workouts.

Pico De Gallo Recipe

  • 4 plum tomatoes or 2 regular tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, finely chopped (remove the seeds for less heat, if desired)
  • ½ red onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of one lime, or to taste

In a medium sized bowl, mix ingredients thoroughly. Salt and pepper, to taste

Chill for at least an hour to let the flavors marinate prior to serving.

Jennifer M. Wood, MS, RD

Jennifer M Wood, MS, RDN is registered dietitian nutritionist and successful food and nutrition consultant in Southeastern Minnesota. As the founder of a nation-wide gourmet food company, Wood wrote Jenny’s Country Kitchen…recipes for making homemade a little easier! (2003), which is a timeless collection of make-ahead, freeze-ahead and pantry-stocking recipes and time saving tips to help busy families put nutritious food on table. Wood graduated with a pre-med bachelors degree in nutritional science in 2001, completed her dietetic internship in 2007 and went on to complete a master’s degree in food and nutrition in 2011.

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