Whether you are a skilled chef or you are someone who enjoys cooking at home, understanding how to store tomatoes is crucial in keeping them fresh and wonderfully delicious as much as you can.
Let’s talk about one of the most iconic and versatile ingredients in the culinary world: tomatoes! These beauties are in almost everything—from salads to sauces, making them kitchen superstars.
But to keep them at their flavorful best, you’ve got to know the tricks of the trade when storing them. And for that, I am here to help you out!
How to Keep Tomatoes Fresh Longer
The key to enjoying their goodness for as long as possible is to treat these tomatoes kindly because they can be quite delicate and easily ruined.
On that note, if you have a basket full of tomatoes, sort out any with bruises or soft spots. These spoiled portions of the tomatoes can spread and ultimately ruin the entire bunch. Let us not give it a chance to cause trouble later on.
Another thing to keep in mind to keep your tomatoes fresh for as long as possible is to avoid washing them until you are ready to use them. That is correct—no premature showers until they are up for consumption. Washing them earlier than the intended deadline can lead to these tomatoes getting soggy due to the excess moisture.
Make sure to remember these things!
How to Tell if a Tomato is Ripe
There are several ways or indicators to tell whether a tomato is ripe, but here are the most common ways to check—whether you are growing them on your own or looking for the best-quality tomatoes in your local store.
A ripe tomato commonly has a deep, vibrant shade of red without lingering green patches. Those green parts suggest they are not yet ripe.
It is also worth noting that tomatoes come in a dazzling array of colors, each offering a unique spectrum of flavors! They can be orange, yellow, or other colors—based on their variety. On that note, it is interesting to know that there is a tomato to suit every palate.
How they are holding on to their stem
Cradle the fruit in your palm, and with a gentle twist, it should come right off. If you need both hands to separate the stem from the fruit, they are not quite ripe yet.
The touch test for ripeness involves a delicate balance.
Ripe tomatoes won’t be overly firm or overly squishy. They’ll feel tender, slightly yielding to the touch, akin to a perfectly ripe peach or nectarine—just a smidge firmer. If it’s as solid as an apple, it means that it is still not ripe.
If you apply gentle pressure and it yields a little, that’s your cue that it’s ready to be picked.
Sniff it out
If you have done the methods above and are still unsure whether it is already ripe or want another way to determine, give it a quick smell.
A ripe tomato should have a sweet and earthy aroma.
How to Store Ripe Tomatoes
Once they have reached their peak of ripeness, and you are not yet ready to enjoy them right away, you can store them in the refrigerator. However, if you possess a wine fridge or a cool cellar, I recommend using it to house them instead.
For those choosing the refrigerator route, consider having your tomatoes on the upper shelf near the door. This spot often offers a slightly warmer environment compared to the colder areas at the bottom and rear of the fridge.
Nonetheless, if you are ready to consume them within a day or two, have them in a cute bowl by the counter at room temperature.
How to Store Unripe Tomatoes
When your tomatoes have not yet reached their prime ripeness, it is always ideal to place them on the countertop instead for several days and allow them to mature as their ripeness process continues.
How to Store Cut Tomatoes
So, you’ve got a few slices of tomato leftover from making your favorite dish or recipe and are wondering what to do with them. No problem! There is a way to store cut tomatoes.
First, keep those slices as fresh as possible by wrapping them in plastic wrap tightly. This method keeps air out and moisture in, which is what you want to achieve. Place the tomatoes with their cut side facing downward onto a small plate, then pop them into the refrigerator.
This storage technique will have your sliced tomatoes stay fresh for several days. Remember, once tomatoes have been used, their freshness countdown starts ticking, so try to use them sooner rather than later.
Should I Put Tomatoes in the Refrigerator?
It all depends on the current state of tomatoes that you currently have and your plans for consumption.
When tomatoes are in the refrigerator, their texture can change. They might become mealy and lose some of that fantastic flavor over time. However, if you’ve got ripe tomatoes on the verge of becoming overripe and are not ready to use them, a short time in the fridge can buy you some time.
On the other hand, if you have green-colored tomatoes that need more ripening, they should stay out of the fridge until they are ready or ripe. Refrigerating tomatoes that are not yet ripe will stop their ripening process.
A ripe tomato can stay delicious in the fridge for approximately two weeks under the right conditions! The same conditions that I previously mentioned above.
The bottom line
Keep in mind: these are general suggestions, and the precise time tomatoes remain fresh can differ depending on the conditions in your storage area and the initial quality and freshness of the tomatoes you have acquired.
Trust your instincts and give your tomatoes a quick check before using them, whether they have been with you for a while or you just got them a few days back. By adhering to these recommended storage methods, you can savor the delectable and robust taste of your tomatoes for as long as possible.