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How Long Do Tomatoes Last?

Oh, I do love tomatoes! This refreshing and juicy veg (or is it a fruit?) is so heavenly when grilled or combined with aromatic condiments and balsamic reduction, just like our very own version of Caprese salad.

Sometimes I marinate my tomatoes in olive oil, spices, red wine vinegar, garlic, and red onions to create this luscious tomato dish! These two recipes are just a few of the reasons I keep my tomatoes stocked up on my countertop. 

However, my love for tomatoes sometimes pushes me to overbuy them.

Relax, I’ve already learned how long do tomatoes last, how should they be stored after being cut, the common signs of rotten tomatoes, and how to keep their freshness intact. 

Pro Tip: When you first bring home tomatoes and they are not yet red and are very hard, leave them on the counter for two or three days to ripen. If you put tomatoes in the refrigerator too soon, they stop ripening, and you could end up with a hard, tasteless tomato.

If you’re new to this tomato thing, or brushing up on the latest, then this essential guide is for you!

Tomatoes, such fragile creatures. Who would win in a fight, a tomato or a peach?

Do tomatoes go bad?

The answer is yes, tomatoes do go bad just like any other ingredients you stored in your kitchen. However, you can extend its shelf life with proper storage. 

Generally, fresh tomatoes can last for up to seven days on your counter and two weeks when stored in the fridge.

How to tell when a tomato has gone bad

Your senses will inform you if the tomatoes sitting on your kitchen countertop have already turned.

Here are the three ways to help you tell if your tomatoes aren’t good to eat.

Give it the sniff test

If you’re in doubt whether your tomatoes are still fresh or already bad, you can utilize your sense of smell to check their condition. 

Gather all the tomatoes on your counter then sniff them. If they smell sour, moldy, or off, especially near the stem, consider throwing them into your trash bin.

Check its appearance

Another way to tell if your tomato has gone bad is by checking its appearance. Typically, bad tomatoes feature cracks, mold spots, and discolored areas. So if you happen to have one, discard that tomato!

There are plenty of times I have cut around a small sunken or bruised spot so that I could use the good part of the tomato that’s left, but if your stomach is sensitive, don’t risk eating a tomato that looks beat up.

Overripe tomatoes may start to leak and develop cracks. Use immediately, usually they’re best in cooked dishes at that point, since the texture is softening.

Feel but not squeeze

To know if your tomatoes are gone rancid, you can always rely on your sense of touch. 

Give them a slight grip, but make sure not to squeeze them TOO hard. If the tomato flesh sinks in and your fingers give way to very soft tomato flesh, it’s a clear sign that your stored tomatoes have expired.

How long do tomatoes last

There’s no precise answer on how long your tomatoes last because it all depends on how you store them and their storage condition.

Typically, fully-ripe tomatoes last on the counter for up to seven days, but you can double their shelf life through refrigeration. And when you store them at room temperature, be sure to keep the tomatoes out of direct sunlight as this can affect their taste and texture.

For unripe tomatoes, refrigeration is strictly prohibited as this can ruin the flavor, aroma, and ripening process.

How to store tomatoes

Tomatoes can be stored on the counter for about a week but fully ripe tomatoes should be stored in the fridge. 

Take note, never store your tomatoes below 55°F as this can affect the flavor of the fruits. (Unless you are blanching and processing tomatoes for canning or freezing, but that’s a different post!)

  • Storing unripe tomatoes on the counter – Remove tomatoes from any plastic packaging. Store them in a bowl or basket that allows for airflow. Place this bowl preferably away from direct sunlight.
  • Storing unripe tomatoes in the fridge – Don’t put unripe tomatoes in the fridge as this stops the ripening process. You can still eat unripe tomatoes, but their texture and flavor will be less optimal.
  • Storing ripe tomatoes on the counter – Remove the tomatoes from any plastic produce bag or blister packs. Then keep them at room temperature on the counter, preferably away from sunlight. Make sure that they’re in a single layer and not touching one another to avoid bruising and breaks in the skin. 
  • Storing ripe tomatoes in the fridge – Keep ripe tomatoes loose in the vegetable drawer or in a vegetable saver bag. Store cut ripe tomatoes in a container with a lid. Cut ripe tomatoes can usually be stored in the refrigerator and used within three days of cutting.
  • Storing overripe tomatoes the right way – The best way to store your overripe tomatoes is to put them in the fridge rather than on a countertop because refrigeration can halt the ripening process of the fruits.

Reminder: It’s probably best to eat those overripe fruits as soon as possible. And don’t put them on the counter! 

Learn how to dice tomatoes here.

Should I store tomatoes in the refrigerator?

Store ripened, overripe, and cut fresh tomatoes in the refrigerator. 

If you aren’t sure if they are ripe, give them the sniff and feel test first. 

A nice ripe tomato is usually deep red, with a firm skin without hard flesh. Leave them out on the counter for a night to be sure, and check them the next day. Then add them to the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator.

How to make tomatoes last longer

To make your tomatoes (especially overripe ones) last longer, you must keep them in the refrigerator. Refrigeration can stop the ripening process of your fruits and prevent them from getting mold. 

But keep in mind that you shouldn’t put tomatoes in the coldest spots of your fridge. 

Placing the tomatoes at below 55°F temperature slows the enzyme activity, which results in damage to the flavor, texture, and color.

How to store cut tomatoes

In case you’re cutting tomatoes for a burger, and you won’t be using the entire fruit, then you should consider storing them in the refrigerator. 

Here’s how to store cut tomatoes to maximize their shelf life:

  1. Place the cut tomatoes in an airtight container. 
  2. Cover it and refrigerate at around 55°F temperature. Don’t put them in the coldest part of the fridge. 
  3. Consume the tomatoes within two to three days.

The bottom line

Tomatoes can add a pop of color and nice flavor to your recipes. They’re versatile too! Unfortunately, like any other fruits and vegetables, they aren’t exempt from spoilage. 

Do you have tomatoes that are overripe and need a recipe? Here’s our Green Beans With Tomatoes, a fast, easy side dish. 

But it’s okay! As long as you know the signs and the essential tips to keep your favorite fruit (or is it a vegetable?) fresh, you don’t need to worry!

Hope your tomato bounty is overflowing!

How to store cut tomatoes

How to store cut tomatoes

Wondering how to store cut tomatoes? Here’s our guide for storing cut tomatoes.

Ingredients

  • Airtight container
  • Refrigerator
  • Cut tomatoes

Instructions

  1. Place the cut tomatoes in an airtight container. 
  2. Cover it and refrigerate at around 55°F temperature. Don't put them in the coldest part of the fridge. 
  3. Consume the tomatoes within two to three days.

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