How to Tell When a Tomato Has Gone Bad

By Andrew Smith

Tomatoes are used in a wide variety of recipes, and also make a nutritious snack between meals. As with other fruits and vegetables, a tomato is only good for a set amount of time. Once this time passes, eating the tomato or adding it to a recipe is not recommended. Thoroughly inspect the inside and outside of a tomato for signs it has gone bad to prevent you and others from getting sick.

Person holding tomatoes
credit: Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images
Always check a tomato before using it.

Step 1

Notice the color of the tomato. Throw it away if it is not a solid red color or if you see any discoloration.

Step 2

Look for cracks, mold spots, sunken areas or other damage on the outside surface of the tomato. All of these indicate the tomato is bad.

Step 3

Grip, don't squeeze, the tomato. A good tomato is firm enough that it doesn't sink in as you hold it. Throw the tomato away if it seems soft.

Step 4

Smell the outside of the tomato. A bad tomato smells rancid and unpleasant.

Step 5

Slice the tomato in half. Feel the inside of the tomato. Throw it away if its inside feels slimy.

Step 6

Inspect the inside of tomato for mold spots, discolored areas or rancid smells. Discard the tomato if you notice any of these conditions.