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How To Tell If A Roma Tomato Has Gone Bad

A while back, I had a situation where some Roma tomatoes were in the house that I needed clarification on. Knowing if Roma tomatoes have gone bad can be confusing.

My mom couldn’t drag me into the kitchen when I was a kid. I didn’t care, so I didn’t learn that much about cooking. As a result, I had to learn everything the hard way.

Now, you get to learn what I learned, and I hope it helps, as you will see in the tips below. My favorite way to learn about fresh produce is to talk with the workers in the produce section.

This is Roma tomatoes in baskets.

Signs of a Bad Roma Tomato

Like any fruit or vegetable, Roma tomatoes go bad; sometimes, it is difficult to know if it is just super ripe or has gone bad.

The obvious signs that your Roma tomatoes have gone bad is if they have mold growing on them or black spots on them. If you see either of those things, your Roma tomato has gone bad.

Important note about mold: The USDA states that if a soft fruit or vegetable such as a tomato has mold on it anywhere, discard the entire tomato. Cutting off the moldy part and using the remaining can be tempting, but the mold could have expanded into the tomato and be undetectable. Be safe and throw out any tomatoes with mold. 

Sometimes spotting when a Roma tomato has gone bad is not quite as obvious though. 

Here are some signs that a Roma tomato has gone bad:

Visual Inspection

If your Roma tomato is dark, has spots or is wrinkly, it has gone bad. A fresh Roma tomato has a vibrant red color and smooth skin. 

Smell It

If your tomato gives off a sour or unpleasant odor, it’s time to toss it. Fresh Roma tomatoes have a mildly sweet, earthy smell. 

Important note: If you see mold growing on the tomato, don’t sniff it; throw it away. Inhaling mold is not good for you.

If It Tastes Bad

A spoiled tomato will taste sour or off. A good Roma tomato should taste slightly sweet and fresh. 

Remember, if in doubt, throw it out!

Here is a checklist to help you tell if your Roma tomatoes are bad. If you are like me and find such things handy, copy and paste this to your notes app on your phone. That is what I do. 

Checklist to see if your Roma tomato has gone bad

If you see any of these signs, your tomato has gone bad.

  • If you see mold, it has gone bad. 
  • Look for cracks or blemishes in the skin.
  • Check for a soft or mushy texture.
  • Smell the tomato. A fresh tomato should have a mild, sweet smell. A tomato that has gone bad will have a sour or unpleasant odor.
This is a closeup of Roma tomatoes.

Should Roma Tomatoes be Soft or Hard?

When shopping for Roma tomatoes, you might wonder if they should be firm or soft. The answer is somewhere in the middle. 

A ripe Roma tomato should feel firm but yield slightly under pressure. If it’s rock hard, then it’s not ripe yet. 

If it’s very soft or squishy, it might be overripe or starting to spoil.

If you find this confusing, I understand. It can all sound a bit strange until you have experienced applying a bit of pressure to an overripe tomato. 

As odd as it sounds, I recommend going to the grocery store and feeling various tomatoes. Try and find some tomatoes that appear overripe and give them a gentle squeeze.

Also, see if you can find a produce person working there and ask them for advice. I love talking to these guys. They are generally eager to help and give advice. 

How to Tell if a Roma Tomato is Ripe

A ripe Roma tomato is deep red, firm but not hard, and has a slightly sweet smell. It will also have smooth skin and not be wrinkly. 

If it’s green, it’s not ripe yet. If it’s very dark red or starting to turn brown, it’s overripe or possibly spoiled.

The bottom line

The best way to tell if a Roma tomato has gone bad is to pick it up and visually inspect it. It has gone bad if it is moldy, squishy or has fluid leaking.

This is Roma tomatoes in baskets.