My tomatoes turned black!

I have never seen this before so I had to show you.  They looked like they were burnt black.  It was bloody amazing.

As you would all expect, it is tomato time in Western Australian vegie gardens and my Roma tomatoes are doing the right thing and producing a decent amount.

The cherry tomatoes weren’t a bumper crop this year.  I think the main problem was they got tomato russet mite.  I had never heard of the little blighters until a month ago when I was watching Gardening Australia and Sophie spoke about her poor sick tomato plants having tomato russet mite.  Mine looked just like hers.  All the leaves had turned brown, the fruit was very small and the plants have all but died.  Sophie said mites only affect plants when we have hot, dry heat.  We sure have had a bit of that this summer.  It was horrid.  I got enough tomato puree from them to last me a year and we had plenty to eat over the summer – which is just perfect, really.  It gets a bit overwhelming when you get a bumper crop.

The Romas have fared much better than the cherries and are now in full swing so I have started drying them.  I dried one lot and made a tomato pesto to give our winter stews a real tomato hit.

I then turned my mind to drying the tomatoes and storing them in olive oil to serve to guests as part of a nibblies platter.  We, usually, have a few jars in the cool room for such purpose.  The top photo was the first batch that I did.

I was absolutely amazed when I saw them.  I have never seen it before. So, of course, off to Google I went for the answer.  There was not much out there.  The most consistent explanation was that these were low in acid.  One article I read indicated that low acid tomatoes will turn darker than higher acid tomatoes like Roma tomatoes!  Mmmmm…  I don’t know about that – these are Roma tomatoes!  But I wasn’t getting any better advice so I decided to give their solution a bash.  The suggested solution was to spray a citric acid solution onto the tomatoes.  As we have plenty of lemons, I decided to dip my tomatoes in lemon juice to see if it made any difference.

Here are my next lot.  It appears to have worked but I didn’t leave any undipped so I don’t know whether these tomatoes would have gone black if they had been left to their own devices. 

I don’t know whether low acid was the reason.  I don’t know why these Romas would be any less acidic than in other years (the seeds were from the same packet).  But as it worked, I will be doing it again tomorrow.

If anyone knows for certain, I would love to know.  In the mean time, if you dry some tomatoes and they turn black, try dipping the next lot in lemon juice or a citric acid solution.

We have eaten some of these dried tomatoes and you can’t taste the lemon juice so don’t let that put you off.


15 thoughts on “My tomatoes turned black!

  1. Hi…I realize it’s been many months but wish pipe in regarding the tomatoes. Same thing happened to me this week with my dehydrated Roma’s. I found your blog whilst searching Google. The difference for me, in this case, was that I decided to add a few sprinkles of salt prior to dehydration and about 15 percent of the batch turned black. Made a second batch without the salt and the result was normal with a consistent dark red hue. In any event, I hope that you resolved the problem. Am thinking the lemon juice dip may not be necessary.

    • Hi Chrys. Wow, you may be right. Of course, I can’t remember now whether I added salt or not but I may have. As a precaution I won’t tis summer. Thanks.

  2. Only yesterday a comment was made during our chat at our local vege pick-up about dehydrating fruit & veg… topical a la #coronageddon … that dipping in lemon juice brightens colours. You and Google got it right. We had a good start to the tomato season despite the dry but then the weather got very wet and the plant lost vigour. I’ve just pulled out the last of the summer plants and are hoping the volunteers which have appeared with enjoy some autumn sunshine and a little rain. Otherwise we’ll just be enjoying the fruits of our summer preserving.

  3. It was just too hot for tomatoes here (Canberra) this year …

    I have only just realised that you are posting again, and am very pleased. I look forward to trying that pork and bean recipe,


  4. Only had less than a bucketful of tomatoes here this year. Glad I have some passata from last season left. I love them really dry, almost like sweet jubes.

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