White Spots Inside Tomato: Is It Safe To Eat?

When you slice open a tomato, you probably expect to see a red and pink interior – not white spots. Any other color inside the fruit can be unsettling and unappealing, but knowing what causes this may help you.

White spots inside a tomato may be due to uneven ripening, pests, nutrient deficiencies, or possibly a disease. Sometimes, sun damage may also cause a white spot on the skin that spreads to the inside of the fruit. In most cases, white spots are not a sign that the tomato is unsafe to eat.

In this article, we’re going to explore the major causes of white spots on tomatoes and look at how you can address these effectively.

What Causes White Spots Inside Tomatoes?

we took a picture of a tomato with white spots inside
This picture belongs to Vegan Foundry

As mentioned above, a few different things could cause white spots to form inside your tomatoes, and this is a fairly common issue. They may be the result of:

  • Poor ripening
  • Lack of nutrients
  • Certain types of diseases
  • Pests
  • Sun damage

If you are growing the tomatoes yourself at home, you should take the time to work out what is affecting your tomatoes so that you can prevent them from doing so in future years. Let’s look at the causes and whether they make the tomato inedible in more detail.

Poor Ripening

Poor ripening is usually the result of temperature problems. Tomatoes prefer to be kept between 60 degrees F and 90 degrees F when they are ripening, and if the temperature rises or drops outside of this range, there is a risk that the fruits will develop white spots inside.

Ripening problems can also be caused by a lack of certain nutrients (which we will cover in more detail below) or poor drainage. If the soil is constantly wet and the roots aren’t draining well, the plant will start to struggle. This often results in fruits that don’t ripen properly.

Sometimes, heavily compacted soil can also cause an issue, because the tomato can’t spread its roots properly to take up the nutrients that it needs. The tomatoes will still be safe to eat if they haven’t fully ripened, but they won’t taste as pleasant.

Lack Of Nutrients

As you’ll have guessed from the above section, a lack of nutrients can be a major problem for your tomato plant. If your plant lacks potassium, it will be unable to absorb calcium or magnesium properly, and both of these are critical for the maturing process that tomatoes go through.

That means that not having access to the right nutrients is very likely to cause white spots inside the fruits. You need to make sure you feed your tomatoes regularly so that they are getting the nutrients they need to make their fruits swell and ripen.

Tomatoes that lack nutrients are still safe to eat, but again, their flavor may be poor.

Diseases

Certain diseases may also cause white spots in your tomatoes, both on the skin and inside the fruits. For example, bacterial canker produces large, white spots with a dark perimeter around each. There is unfortunately no cure for this disease once it has affected the plants, although seeds can be treated for it.

You can safely consume tomatoes that have bacterial canker, as it does not harm humans. However, you should not can or otherwise preserve the tomatoes, because they may not be acidic enough anymore.

Another possible disease is known as cotton spot, which causes white spots to appear on the tomato’s skin. This often occurs if your conditions are too wet or humid, or if the soil can’t drain well. 

You may want to cut areas with white spots out of your tomatoes, rather than eating them, as there is currently little information about whether this is safe or not.

Pests

One of the commonest causes of white spots inside tomatoes is the stink bug. This bug inserts a needle-like mouth part into the tomato and sucks out the juice, leaving large, white spots inside the fruit. This will run as deep as the mouth part was inserted, and looks very unappetizing.

A lot of gardeners lose tomatoes to stink bug damage, and it’s a highly frustrating situation to be in. Fortunately, stink bugs do not contaminate the fruits in any way, so you can still eat tomatoes that have been attacked by a stink bug. However, the white spots they leave behind are often pretty fibrous and may not be pleasant to eat, so you might want to cut those patches out and discard them.

Don’t throw away the whole tomato, as the rest of the fruit should be perfectly edible and taste pleasant. You can tell the difference between stink bug damage and bacterial canker because stink bug damage lacks the dark perimeter around the white circle.

Sun Damage

Tomatoes do like sunlight, but too much will create large, discolored spots on both the skin and the inside of the fruit’s flesh. If your tomatoes are kept in a particularly sunny place during the height of summer, they are quite likely to develop some scalding, although it may be minor.

You can cut this area off if you choose to, as it may be mushy or chewy. It is not unsafe to eat, but you should be aware that a scalded tomato may go off more quickly than undamaged tomatoes, because its flesh will have been damaged, allowing bacteria to access the insides.

You can reduce the risk of your tomatoes getting scalded by shading them on the hottest days of the year and being careful not to prune off too much foliage (as the leaves will protect the fruits).

Conclusion

Many different things can cause white spots inside your tomatoes, but they do not generally affect how edible the fruit is, so don’t be afraid to eat it or to cut the white part out and eat the rest. It may not look very appetizing, but it won’t hurt you, and most affected tomatoes will still taste perfectly good.

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for over five years! I've set up this blog because I'm passionate about veganism and living a more spiritually fulfilling life where I'm more in tune with nature. Hopefully, I can use Vegan Foundry as a channel to help you out on your own journey!