Poisons in Green Tomatoes

So, when I did the presentation the other night, a few people asked about the poisons or glycoalkaloids in green (mature green) tomatoes.

I did a little research for you, and I’ll tell you what I learned.

  1. Glycoalkaloids are heat stable. So, they do not break down, in general, at the temperatures that we cook/bake/fry in. They will start to break down >230 degrees C.

  2. The glycoalkaloids are soluble in vinegar (acid) so if you cut them up and pickle them in a vinegar solution, then over time, most of the glycoalkaloids will leave the tomato and be in the brine.

  3. They’re also soluble in water, so if you boiled them, most of the glycoalkaloids would be in the water. But I don’t know anyone who boils green tomatoes. (I’m from Louisiana, and I know green tomatoes.)

  4. I found one study that said that the glycoalkaloids were concentrated in the jelly part surrounding the seeds inside the locular cavities. So, while that was only one study, if I was eating them, I would attempt to remove that part before eating.

  5. Ripe tomatoes contain zero or almost zero glycoalkaloids.

In any case, I wouldn’t recommend eating a lot of green tomatoes at one time.

I hope this helps,

P.S. One thing I forgot to mention during the presentation–unrelated to glycoalkaloids–is that an easy way to add magnesium to tomato plants is with epsom salts which is MgSO4, either in the powdered form or dissolved in water. That’s a way to add magnesium and sulfur at the same time!