When people say a tomato is or isn't mealy, what does that really mean? I've never had a tomato that was grainy, as it's sometimes described. Is that even possible? That sounds like a tomato with sand in it. How would you personally describe the consistency without using the dictionary definition?

Also, what are mealy tomatoes good for?

2 Answers 2


Yup, tomatoes can most definitely be a bit grainy. It's not a hard graininess like sand, but a softer graininess. The best comparisons that come to mind are hydrated but uncooked cornmeal or slightly wet breadcrumbs. Instead of being juicy and smooth (whether firm or soft), you'll notice a bit of small texture. It'll probably also be less juicy, and the flavor may not be as fresh and full as you'd like. If you've never had one, awesome - you've had good tomatoes!

It's also a common texture in some varieties of apples, especially when not too fresh. It's especially noticeable there; instead of a crisp crunch as you bite through it'll feel a little crumbly.

They'd be all right for things where you're going to cook them thoroughly so you won't notice the texture, like spaghetti sauce, though again the flavor may suffer as well. For anything remotely fresh, they're still edible, just noticeably not as good.

  • So, would you say they're mushy? Feb 26, 2015 at 3:05
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    @Shule They could be, but they could also be firm. But unlike a good firm tomato, instead of a bit of crunch and a nice release of juice, you'll just kinda bite through it and feel the mealiness.
    – Cascabel
    Feb 26, 2015 at 3:07
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    The word in my house to describe it is pappy.
    – Doug
    Feb 26, 2015 at 8:55
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    I grew some Roma or Baja tomatoes that seemed to match your description, except they weren't gritty or sticky at all as grain would be. They were very firm, but the moment they touched my tongue they dissolved into mush, kind of like applesauce. I called them mushy. At first it was very, very unappealing. The tomatoes also lacked the flavor of their parents. I thought they must be an F2 Baja that didn't breed true. I'd never had a tomato like that. However, after trying to enjoy them for a while, I found that they were an acquired taste for me (kind of like pea soup when I was a kid). Feb 26, 2015 at 21:54
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    @Shule But mushy means soft. Mealy doesn't have to be soft.
    – Cascabel
    Feb 26, 2015 at 22:41

Mealy tomatoes are good candidates for sauce. They tend to be of the meatier, less juicy varieties like Roma and pear tomatoes. Beafsteak and brandywine varieties and hybrids generally don't get mealy, they just started getting leaky, and making a mess. Bunch tomatoes like Grape and Cherry tomatoes usually just get moldy and shrivel up.

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