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Tomatoes are one of the most widely grown vegetables on homesteads around the world. From the mighty beefsteak tomatoes to the tiny sweet current, there is a tomato variety to suit every taste and every growing space.
One common question I get asked when I give talks at clubs around the country is Why are my homegrown tomatoes mushy?
Homegrown tomatoes are often mushy due to being overwatered or watered irregularly. Tomato plants require a constant supply of water once the fruits start forming. Excess water will cause the tomatoes to be mushy, have poor flavor, and split skins. Some heirloom varieties of tomatoes often frequently produce mushy fruits.
Why are my homegrown tomatoes Mushy?
Tomatoes can be surprisingly tricky to grow. Some gardeners find they grow lots of leaves and not many tomatoes, others find their tomatoes are too small or lack flavor.
One of the most common issues homesteaders have with their homegrown tomatoes is the tomatoes are mushy.
The main reason homegrown tomatoes go mushy is overwatering. Tomato plants need to be water consistently. Tomato plant roots draw lots of water. The more water there is available to them, the more they will draw.
Tomato plants will continue to draw water even to the point the fruits split due to excess water.
The key to making sure tomatoes don’t go mushy due to excess water is to give them the same amount of water every day. Many gardeners sink a flower pot in the ground next to their tomato plants. Then, when they water, they just fill the partially buried pot with water and allow the water to soak into the soil.
How to Prevent homegrown Tomatoes From Being Mushy?
If you find your homegrown tomatoes are mushy, you should actively reduce the amount of water you are giving your tomato plants. The more water you give your tomato plants, the more mushy your tomatoes will be.
Tomato plants should either be watered little and often, as with the trick where the pots are sunk into the ground, or watered only when the soil is dry.
Does Tomato Variety Affect The Fruits Being Mushy?
More and more homesteaders are looking toward heirloom varieties of tomatoes. It is well known that many of the older varieties had better flavor, although were perhaps less reliable or had smaller yields than modern tomato varieties.
Unfortunately, many of the heirloom varieties had major flaws, such as the fact the fruits were often mushy or they had thick skins. It is these flaws that lead modern varieties to be developed.
If you believe your tomatoes may be mushy due to the variety you are growing, take a look at the video below, it has some great suggestions of heirloom tomato varieties to try.
What to do with mushy Tomatoes?
Just because your tomatoes are mushy, doesn’t mean your harvest is a waste and the whole crop is destined for the compost pile. Whilst a mushy tomato isn’t ideal to add to a fresh salad, there are plenty of other uses.
Below I have listed some of my favorite ways to use tomatoes that are mushy. Incidentally, most of the suggestions below work for tomatoes which are split, mishappen, or if you just have a glut and don’t know what to do with them.
Make Tomato Sauce
I will be the first to admit that mushy tomatoes don’t always have as good a flavor, and this is due to the excess water in the fruit. However, if you turn them into a sauce, you can add herbs and spices that will disguise the lack of flavor.
To make an easy tomato sauce, boil the tomatoes for 1 minute, then peel and chop them. Simmer the tomatoes in a pan with a little onion and garlic and add seasoning to taste. Once everything is cooked, blitz, then return to the pan and simmer gently until the desired thickness is reached.
The great thing about soup is you can make a large batch, then put it in the freezer. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve made tomato soup either because I had a glut of tomatoes or because I had a batch that were mushy, split or otherwise imperfect.
For a basic soup recipe, saute some onions, garlic or shallots (just use whatever you have). Add the tomatoes and a little seasoning. Continue to simmer until everything is cooked, then blitz and freeze.
My final thought on ‘Why are my Tomatoes mushy?’
Having mushy tomatoes is surprisingly common. The main cause is over watering or watering irregularly. When your tomatoes receive too much water, the plant absorbs and stores the excess water in the fruits which cause the tomatoes to be mushy.
If you end up with mushy tomatoes, don’t waste them, consider turning them into tomato sauce or soup.