Why Do Heirloom Tomatoes Have Scars?

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With their clefts and scars, heirloom tomatoes can be at once both ugly and beautiful. Called catfacing, this scarring is perfectly safe to eat, but what causes it? 

Catfacing rarely looks like an actual cat (if only!) but you'll recognize it as brownish scars and scabs at the blossom end of a tomato. Though not all heirloom tomatoes develop catface, it's more common in heirlooms because they haven't been bred for commercial perfection. Several factors may lead to scarring, the most common being exposure to cool temperatures during pollination. 

In light cases catfacing just grazes the surface of the fruit, but sometimes it can form rough, deep cracks. If the scars are unpalatable, simply cut those areas away. 

How do you like to eat heirloom tomatoes? Check out some of our favorite simple recipes

(Image: Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan)

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Emily Han (formerly Emily Ho) is a writer, recipe developer and educator on topics such as food preservation, wild food and herbalism. She is author of Wild Drinks and Cocktails (Fall 2015), co-founder of Food Swap Network and creator of Miss Chiffonade