How to Store Tomatoes So They Don’t Get Mealy

They don’t always go in the fridge.

People have varied opinions on how to store tomatoes, but everyone wants the same result: fresh, sweet, tart tomatoes to eat and cook with for as long as possible. Whether you’re using tomatoes for a bright, zippy gazpacho, a hearty, slow-cooked tomato sauce or eating them like apples, you need to know how to store them so they’re ready to go. Keep reading to learn all about how to store tomatoes properly.

How to Store Tomatoes

If the tomatoes are not yet ripe, they are best stored on the counter for a few days until they ripen. (You’ll know they’re ripe when they’re fragrant and give a little bit to the touch.) Once they’re ripe, either consume them or go ahead and put them in the refrigerator to preserve their freshness. A ripe tomato can stay fresh in the refrigerator for about two weeks.

Can You Store Tomatoes in the Fridge?

In short, yes, you can store tomatoes in the refrigerator, but it’s important to consider the ripeness of the tomato. Refrigeration interrupts the ripening process, and nobody wants to eat a mealy, bland, unripe tomato. If you put unripe tomatoes in the fridge, they’ll stay that way—never as flavorful as they could have been. If you pick or manage to buy a perfectly ripe tomato, either eat it or refrigerate it.

As for overripe tomatoes, make sure to refrigerate them to slow their spoiling, and keep in mind that you can use squishy, overripe tomatoes for tomato sauces, relishes, chutneys, and beyond. So, yes, we’re pro-fridge depending on the situation, but let your tomatoes come to room temperature before eating them no matter what. Room temperature tomatoes have the best flavor.

How to Store Sliced Tomatoes

Since the skin protects the flesh, it’s best to keep tomatoes whole for storage, but if you find yourself with a leftover tomato that has been cut into, there’s a way to keep it fresher for longer. Simply cover the cut side with plastic wrap—tightly—and loosely wrap the uncut side. Set the tomato on a small plate cut side down and put it in the refrigerator. Stored this way, sliced tomatoes will last a few days.

To store full tomato slices, like the kind you would put on a sandwich or a burger, place them in an airtight food storage container or a well-sealed plastic bag and keep them in the refrigerator. Try to use the tomato slices within three days, while they are still fresh.

Can You Freeze Tomatoes?

You can, in fact, freeze tomatoes, and the frozen fruits can be a gift to yourself in the winter when you’re craving the sweetness of summer tomatoes. If you have a bounty of ripe tomatoes and you’re not going to use them all, give them a rinse, let them dry, remove their stems, and freeze them in a freezer-proof container or bag. It’s as easy as that!

Once you’re ready to eat them, just pop the frozen tomatoes in a bowl of tepid water. After a few minutes in the water, you’ll be able to peel off the skins easily. When it comes to frozen tomatoes, you’ll want to reserve them for cooked dishes like a tomato-based pasta sauce. Wait until summer for dishes like a Caprese salad or an open-faced sandwich, which will taste better when prepared with fresh tomatoes.

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