One of the easiest ways to store tomatoes is to refrigerate them. However, if you plan to do this, you must ensure that you don’t freeze them. Aside from this, you will also have to keep them dry, so they don’t spoil.
How to Store Tomatoes in the Fridge?
Tomatoes should be placed in a plastic bag or container with a lid and a refrigerator. Be sure to squeeze out as much air as you can. Please keep them in the refrigerator’s main compartment rather than the door because of the inconsistent temperature. In the fridge, tomatoes can last for 5-7 days, although they will start to lose some of their flavor and texture. It is preferable to freeze them if you don’t use them in that time frame.
Regardless of how you want to consume fresh tomatoes—diced in a pico de gallo, chilled in gazpacho, or in a cool summer salad—the following is the ideal way to preserve them:
- Use a paper towel to wipe any dirt or debris away.
- On a platter, arrange the tomatoes upside down, and separate them from the other fruits and vegetables.
- For up to five days, keep in a cool spot away from direct sunlight.
Why are they kept in this way? Tomatoes shouldn’t be washed because any moisture on a ripe tomato can lead to rot. Before using them, you can wash them with water if you wish.
Because their “shoulders” are the strongest part of the tomato and are less prone to bruising, tomatoes should be stored stem-side down. Avoid placing them too close to other fruits and vegetables since they may release ethylene gas, which hastens the ripening process.
Should Tomatoes be Refrigerated?
Here Is the Quick Response
If you raised your tomatoes or purchased them in season from a farmers market, stall you trust, and they have never been refrigerated:
- Unripe tomatoes should be stemmed before storing them at room temperature until they are fully ripe, upside down on a plate, or chopping board. (Why is it reversed? Read Kenji’s post to see why it’s ideal for planting seeds stem side down.)
- Eat ripe tomatoes as soon as possible.
- Any completely ripe tomatoes that haven’t been consumed should be refrigerated; however, they should thaw before being served. Slices will warm up considerably more quickly than an unbroken fruit, so slice them while they’re still cold to hasten this process. According to a study, refrigeration is best for no more than three days. *
If you purchased your tomatoes somewhere other than your backyard or a farmers market during peak season and they were refrigerated:
- Keep them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use after letting them ripen at room temperature.
You may read the entire study here if you’re willing to do so. But the pertinent quote is as follows: “Volatiles were measured after red ripe fruits were held at 5°C for 1, 3, or 7 days, followed by a recovery period of either 1 or 3 days at 20°C. After 1 or 3 days of cold storage, no appreciable loss of flavour volatile content was found in comparison to the day of harvest (day 0).”
That’s all there is to it. Here is the (currently brief) explanation.
It’s colder in a refrigerator than it should be for tomatoes. This is a fundamental fact and is the basis for the proverbial “never refrigerate a tomato” guideline. However, there are several real-world circumstances that the rule neglects to consider. Additionally, it ignores that not all tomatoes are impacted by chilling similarly.
You need to know if your tomatoes are still just on the verge of reaching their optimal ripeness, keep them at room temperature for as long as possible. However, after they get their peak, you must either consume them immediately or refrigerate them. The tomatoes can start to deteriorate and eventually rot many hours after their prime, but the refrigerator can give you some time before that happens. Additionally, if you allow the chilled tomato to get to room temperature before eating it, it will keep better than one that has been out at room temperature past its prime.
The refrigerator is not good for tomatoes since it can change their flavor and texture, but it is far worse for poorer quality, underripe tomatoes than for fully ripe, wonderful ones. Most traditional tomatoes from large industrial operations do not store as well in the refrigerator as the best-quality, in-season, picked-straight-from-the-vine ripe tomatoes.
Do Tomatoes Keep Better on the Counter or in the Refrigerator?
To let nature take its course, leaving tomatoes out at room temperature is the simplest solution. If you produce tomatoes at home, you already know that if the fruit is not eaten at its short window of peak ripeness, it will continue to ripen and age, even turning. If a tomato has passed its prime and you don’t intend to use it for dinner that night, put it in the refrigerator. The cold will delay the tomato’s aging process and prevent it from deteriorating too soon.
Can Tomatoes be Frozen?
If you have an abundance of ripe tomatoes and you won’t be able to utilize them all, rinse, dry, remove the stems, and then freeze the tomatoes in a freezer-safe bag or container. That’s how simple it is! Tomatoes can be frozen, and frozen food can be a gift to yourself when you want the sweetness of summer tomatoes in the winter.
Place the frozen tomatoes in a warm water dish when ready to consume them. You can peel off the skins after a few minutes in the water. When it comes to frozen tomatoes, you should save them for prepared meals like spaghetti sauce. Wait till summer for foods like a Caprese salad or an open-faced sandwich that tastes better when made with fresh tomatoes; wait till summer.
How to Store Ripe Tomatoes?
This is the key insight: Store completely ripe tomatoes in a cool area of your house, such as a root cellar or wine cellar, where the temperature stays between 55° and 70° F. You won’t run the risk of interfering with the action of any enzymes that produce flavor because they will keep good for one or two days. Fully ripe tomatoes will survive storage; allow some time for room temperature to return to normal if your home doesn’t have a wide range of temperature zones like ours.
How should I Store Unripe Tomatoes?
Tomatoes that aren’t quite ripe, though; how about those? Those unripe tomatoes should not be placed in the refrigerator. They must remain at room temperature, preferably in a single layer out of the sun. Most essential, store them stem side down while they continue ripening to keep them fresher and longer.
According to America’s Test Kitchen, there are two advantages to restricting the tomato’s stem: it keeps moisture inside the tomato. It prevents air (and, consequently, mildew and bacteria) from getting in.
What are the Best Tomatoes to Choose?
Timing is crucial when deciding which tomatoes to buy and enjoy at home. LeHoullier advises choosing tomatoes at the “breaker stage,” when they are half-ripe, instead of completely ripe tomatoes unless you intend to utilize them immediately.
LeHoullier asserts that allowing tomatoes to ripen on the vine drastically diminishes their shelf life. Half-ripe tomatoes that are allowed to ripen off the vine fully have a flavor similar to tomatoes that have fully ripened on the vine. This increases the likelihood of cracking and animal damage.
Tomatoes should be somewhat stiffer to the touch than how you want to eat them rather than being incredibly hard. If you purchase tomatoes in large quantities, this is very crucial.
LeHoullier advises purchasing tomatoes from a farmer or neighborhood farmers market for the freshest and most flavorful tomatoes. Even better, you can cultivate tomatoes at home for an ultra-fresh flavor.
Why Shouldn’t Whole Tomatoes be Stored in the Fridge?
Fresh whole tomatoes will probably lose flavor and texture if placed in the refrigerator. LeHoullier explains, “The texture [of tomatoes stored in the refrigerator] transforms into something a little mushier, which I don’t find pleasant.” “The fruit undergoes modest chemical changes due to cooling, varying flavors. I enjoy tasting the exact flavor that the tomato’s genes were designed for! To preserve your tomatoes’ true natural flavor, avoid refrigerating them.
How are Cut Tomatoes Stored?
Can a tomato be saved after being sliced for a sandwich if you won’t be using the entire fruit? Absolutely. Store tomatoes that have been cut, whether diced, sliced, or chopped, in the refrigerator.
Say what? We just said not to put tomatoes in the refrigerator. It turns out that there is an excellent explanation for this. According to Levy, cut tomatoes must be kept in the fridge to stop bacterial growth. To ensure the best flavor and texture, place your chopped tomatoes in a food storage container, cover them, and put them in the fridge.
How do you tell if Tomatoes are Bad?
There are a few techniques to determine whether tomatoes are bad:
- Tomatoes should smell fresh and a little bit sweet. They are spoiled if they smell foul or moldy.
- Look for any soft patches, discoloration, or mold growth. The tomatoes should be thrown out if they contain any of these.
- To the touch, tomatoes should feel somewhat firm. They have spoiled if they are mushy or soft.
- Taste: A sour or off-tasting tomato is no longer fit for consumption.
The shelf life of ripe tomatoes will be less than that of unripe ones, so utilize them as soon as you can once they ripen.
Despite having a shelf life of up to 18 months longer than fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes lack the nutritional value of their new counterparts. A few sweet and savory recipes benefit greatly from including juicy tomatoes. To keep the texture and flavor of fresh tomatoes, you can freeze, can, or dry them. Unripe tomatoes will keep for about a week on counters at room temperature and up to two weeks in the refrigerator if you decide not to employ these storage techniques.