Thick tomato skin: the causes of skin hardness

The thickness of a tomato’s skin is something most gardeners don’t think about until their tomato has a thick skin that takes away its succulent texture. Are hard tomato skins inevitable? Or can you take steps to make your tomato skin a little less hard?

What makes tomatoes have a thick skin?

In general, three factors can give tomatoes a hard skin. These things are :

  • Variety
  • Irrigation
  • Temperature

The tomato variety causes a hard skin of the tomato

The most common reason why tomatoes have a thick skin is simply variety. Some varieties of tomatoes have only the thickest skin, and for good reason. Roma tomatoes, plum tomatoes, and crack-resistant tomato varieties will naturally have thick skin.

Roma tomatoes and plum tomatoes have a thick skin partly because they were grown this way. Roma tomatoes and plum tomatoes are often used for canning and drying. The thick or hard skins of the tomatoes promote these canning processes. The thick skin of the tomato is easier to remove when canned and the thick, hard skin of the tomato holds better when dried.

Crack-resistant tomato varieties have also been selected to have hard tomato skins. It is the thick skin of the tomatoes that makes them less likely to crack.

Irrigation affects the thickness of the tomato skin

When tomato plants have very little water, they can develop thick-shelled tomato fruits. This is a survival reaction of the tomato plant. When the tomato plant continually has too little water, it takes steps to conserve the water it receives. One way a tomato plant conserves water is by growing tomatoes with thicker skins. Thicker tomato skins retain water better.

One way to prevent your tomato plants from growing in thick-shelled tomatoes is to make sure your garden receives enough water, especially during prolonged drought periods. Watering tomatoes in large quantities will help keep their normally thin-skinned tomatoes in good condition.

High temperatures cause tomatoes to have a thick skin

High heat can also make a tomato plant with a thick skin. In case of high temperatures, tomatoes can be burned by the sun. To prevent scalding of the fruit, tomato plants will begin to produce tomatoes with a harder skin. The harder skins of tomatoes are less likely to be burned by intense sunlight.

If a sudden heat wave occurs and you want to avoid thick tomato skins, you can provide some shade for your tomato plants during the hottest hours of the day to prevent them from starting to produce thick-skinned tomatoes.

If you live in an area where heat is a reality, you may want to look for thick-skinned tomato varieties. Although the skin of your tomatoes is thicker, your tomato plant will produce more fruit and you will be less likely to lose the tomato fruit due to sun damage.

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