Tomatoes, cherry or otherwise, are the master ingredient in many mouth-watering dishes. But, the savory, juice fruits last only a short while if not stored properly. Most people consider refrigerating tomatoes, like any other fruit or vegetable, as their best bet. But what if we tell you putting your tomatoes in the fridge does more harm than good.
That being said, storing tomatoes to keep them fresh and juicy is no rocket science. Keep reading further to find out some handy tips on how to store tomatoes. We have covered everything you need to know about keeping tomatoes fresh. Whether and how you need to store them inside the fridge or on the counter. Further, we have discussed how to store under-ripe, ripe, and over-ripe tomatoes.
Handy Tips to Store Tomatoes
Find below some useful tips to correctly store your fresh tomatoes-
1. Take Out The Stem
More often than not, juices from the tomato evaporate through its stem, leaving it soft and saggy. Thereby, to keep your tomatoes from turning blackish and soggy, you must carefully remove their stem. Once the stems are out, you can store them facing the stem side on a flat surface.
2. Wash Well
Before you go on storing your tangy fruits, make sure they are thoroughly clean. Just place them under running water and rinse till no residue is left. Take a kitchen towel to wipe them dry before storing.
3. Puree-fy it
One time-tasted method of storing tomatoes is to make a puree out of your fresh tomato. Simply remove the stem and cut the tomatoes into little pieces and pressure cook them. Allow them to cool before straining out the pulp. Cook the puree in a saucepan for about 10 minutes, add salt and refrigerate it in an airtight container. This will easily last you for 20-30 days.
4. Flip Them Around
The upper part of the tomato or its “shoulders” is firmer and sturdier when compared to the delicate bottom half. Just a little bit of pressure from a basket is enough to bruise the tomato bottoms, causing them to rot sooner. To avoid this, you must flip the tomatoes bottom-up, wherein the shoulders face the hard counter. Even if constant pressure bruises the upper half of the tomatoes, it won’t matter much. This is because you’ll anyway be removing and throwing it away.
5. Do Not Stack
Another important tip is not to stack tomatoes on top of the other. The resultant pressure may just bruise these fruits and cause them to rot.
Fridge Or Counter?
When it comes to cooling, you would want to have cool tomatoes, but not freezing cold. Since tomatoes continue to ripe at a certain temperature also called the “Field heat”, you need to bring their temp down. If you want to prevent your tomatoes from being overripe too soon, you would need to keep them at a temp below room temperature.
Any place with a temperature between 55°F and 70°F, like a wine or root cellar, would be perfect to store tomatoes. A pantry room or cool utility room should work just as well. No matter where you store your tomatoes, take particular care in avoiding the sun, for its rays will overripe them.
Typically, a fridge is way too cold for storing tomatoes. Putting these fruits inside a fridge may damage their texture, flavor, and even their color, for it halts their enzyme activity. If you refrigerate unripe tomatoes, they may never even develop completely and lack the correct acidic levels, the right gel-to-water ratio, and firm skin.
In the case of ripe tomatoes, refrigerating will similarly slow the enzyme activity and in turn, affect its flavor. The reduced enzyme activity will increase sugars which may give them a mealy texture. Having said that, you can still recover the taste even after refrigerating your tomatoes. Just set them at normal room temperature for quite many hours before you go about slicing them to make a meal. Warming tomatoes up is another thing that will resume the enzyme activity and help them recover their taste.
However, even the most popular recovery methods may not help them their full juiciness and taste. Still, it is worth trying to save your tomatoes from being tossed in the bin.
More ideally, you can store them for a few days on a countertop, with a just below-room temperature setting. This will help them retain color, taste, juiciness, and texture. The only downside here is that they won’t last as long.
1. How To Store Unripe Tomatoes
Not all tomatoes are ripe; you may have gone and bought some green unripe tomatoes. The question that arises now is what is the best way to store them? The first thing to do here is to not put them in your refrigerator. At best, unripe tomatoes must be kept at room temperature, placed in a single layer, away from direct sunlight. For maximum freshness, these too need to be stored stem side down once they get perfectly ripe.
If you are worried about bruises, instead of storing them upside down, just put a little piece of tape to cover the stem scar. This too will function in a similar way, preventing moisture loss and exposure to air. In case your tomatoes are super unripe, you can place them bottom-down in a brown paper bag or a cardboard box while allowing them to ripen at room temperature. Once they turn red and ripe, make sure to shift them to a cooler place.
2. How To Store Ripe Tomatoes
For your ready-to-eat, ripe tomatoes, look for a cool spot inside your home. As discussed above, a place with temperatures ranging between 55° F and 70° F would be ideal. Your tomatoes will stay fine for a day or two, without the loss of any flavor or texture. However, if your house is not equipped with such temperature variations, you can store them in a fridge. Just be ready to give them proper time and conditions to recover some of the lost taste.
Generally, completely ripe tomatoes must be kept at average room temperature inside your home. Place them on a countertop that is away from direct sunlight. Another thing to note is that they are spread across a single layer, with some gap between them. Make sure that your tomatoes are stem-side up. For the best results, cook and consume them within a few days.
This way you can avoid daily rounds to get your tomatoes. Just follow these simple tips and you are sorted. If you want your tomatoes to last you longer, cook a few batches of tomato sauce and store them in the freezer.
3. How To Store Over-ripe Tomatoes
If you bought overripe tomatoes or forgot about the ones in your house, you need to store them appropriately. These are soft and mushy when touched and have deep red flesh. These are best stored in a fridge where the cold air prevents the tomatoes from further ripening. You should be able to store them for three more days, at most.
Before you go on consuming refrigerated tomatoes, remove them from the fridge and place them on the counter to come to room temperature. You can further warm them up to help recover some of their lost taste.
Tomatoes are delicious yet delicate fruits that need to be stored properly. Ideally, you should store tomatoes at just below room temperature, away from sunlight. This will help them last you 2-3 days. To store them for a longer period, you can refrigerate them or make a puree. Furthermore, overripe tomatoes need to be kept in a fridge or they will be spoilt within no time.
However, refrigeration may cause tomatoes to lose their natural flavors due to decreased enzyme activity. If you want to savor fresh juicy tomatoes, follow the simple tips and pointers listed in this guide.
James Fields is the founder of Gardener to Farmer. His passion for gardening goes back to his childhood days when he would visit his grandfather during the holidays and help him with the plants in the backyard. This has now translated to creating a dependable resource for gardening.