When tomatoes are abundant and you go purchase-happy at the store, knowing how to store tomatoes the right way to keep them fresh longer is key so your money and produce don’t go to waste.
Whether you’re using fresh tomatoes in a day or two, waiting for them to ripen, or wondering if you can freeze them for the future, I’ve compiled the best tips and tricks to keep them fresh!
How to Keep Tomatoes Fresh
There are two methods to keep tomatoes fresh, depending on whether they are ripe and ready to eat or not.
If your tomatoes are very ripe, I recommend you place them upside down, and if the stem is missing, you can place a piece of tape over the spot where the stem used to be. Both tips help to prevent moisture from escaping or mold forming.
Important: Store your tomatoes away from you stove and oven. The heat from these appliances will ripen your tomatoes quickly as you cook throughout the week and can make them go bad sooner than expected.
To keep ripened tomatoes fresh:
Store them in a dry, cool area around 55 to 70F; in the pantry, kitchen shelf, or cabinet is perfect. In these conditions, almost-ready tomatoes will stay fresh for 2 days while keeping all of their flavors.
However, if your tomatoes are ripe, they can be refrigerated for up to 4 days. Keep in mind that the colder temperatures can damage some of the flavor-producing enzymes found in the fruit.
To reverse these effects, take your tomatoes out of the fridge, and store them at room temperature a day before use -at the very least, bring them to room temperature before you eat it.
To keep unripened tomatoes fresh:
Same as above, store them in a dry, cool area, and they should ripen within a week. If you want to speed up the process, place them in indirect sunlight. A windowsill is a perfect spot. Sunshine and heat will help them ripen quickly. Don’t leave them there long, or they’ll mold easily.
Do Tomatoes Last Longer in the Fridge or on the Counter?
Fully ripe tomatoes last longer in the fridge, up to 4 days, vs. 1 to 2 days on the counter. However, tossing them in the refrigerator can reduce their flavor, cause more sugar to accumulate, and create an undesirable texture.
If you have to store them in the fridge, these tomatoes will still work great for baking in dishes like Homemade Caprese Chicken or making homemade tomato sauces, when the texture of the tomatoes will be cooked down and seasoned.
How Long do Tomatoes Last
The lifespan of tomatoes depends on many factors: when they were purchased, where they are stored, and how they are prepared.
The following chart gives you an average of how long ripe, unripe, and cooked tomatoes will last:
|Fresh Ripe||4 days||1 week|
|Fresh Unripe||3-7 days||transfer after ripe|
There are two other ways to store tomatoes. Preserving tomatoes by canning is the longest method, up to 18 months when properly sealed.
And you can freeze tomatoes, more on this below.
Frozen Tomatoes – Frozen tomatoes can last up to 8 months when stored in a Ziploc bag or airtight container or up to 2 years if they are vacuum-sealed.
How to Store Tomatoes on the Counter
The best way to store tomatoes on the counter is to place them upside down. Doing this will prevent the bottoms from bruising. It also prevents moisture from being able to escape or enter the tomatoes. This means that they keep their flavor and have less of a chance of molding.
If you want to take this step even further for the ultimate freshness, wrap the tomatoes individually in newspaper with no stem, and store them upside down. Step-by-Step that looks like this:
How to Store Tomatoes
If the tomato has a step, remove it.
Get some newspaper and wrap each stemless tomato individually.
Place the wrapped tomatoes upside down in a cool, dry place to store them.
Make sure that any ripe tomatoes are kept out of the sun. Meanwhile, unripened tomatoes can be left in direct sunlight (for short periods) or indirect sunlight to develop more quickly and release their flavor.
Watch this video for more tips on storing tomatoes:
How to Keep Tomatoes from Ripening
Sunlight is the fastest way to ripen a tomato, so keeping them stored in a cool, dark place will delay the ripening process. You can also wrap your tomatoes in newspaper to prevent ethylene gas from building up and causing decay.
Can You Freeze Tomatoes
All forms of tomatoes can be frozen, including raw, peeled, cooked and they can last up to 8 months in a zip bag or up to 2 years if they are vacuum sealed!
Freezing is a great way to preserve your produce and save money, especially if you don’t want to go through the canning process and have lots of freezer space.
- Wash them with cold water and dry.
- Place the tomatoes onto a baking sheet and freeze. The baking sheet prevents bruising and allows the tomatoes to freeze faster.
- Once frozen, place the tomatoes in a freezer bag or airtight container labeled with the date. Freeze for up to 8 months.
To freeze peeled tomatoes:
You will follow the same process as above but add these steps to the process:
- Cut and remove the stem of the tomato.
- Place the tomatoes in boiling water for 1 minute. This will help the peel come off easier.
- Peel the tomatoes, place them on a baking sheet, and toss them in the freezer.
- Remove the frozen tomatoes from the baking sheet and transfer to a zip bag or airtight container and freeze.
Keep in mind that tomatoes have a high water content, so they will lose a lot of their texture when frozen. Frozen tomatoes are best for use iin stews, soups, and sauces where the texture won’t be noticeable.
Stewed or cooked tomato sauces:
Place the prepared sauce in a freezer-safe airtight container at room temperature. Seal the container and label it with the date. Freeze for up to 8 months.
To defrost tomatoes and tomato sauces, simply remove the container from the freezer and allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight or place in cold water and thaw for 2 hours.
When Are Tomatoes Bad to Eat?
When you notice any soft, wrinkly spots, bruising, or mold; it’s time to toss the tomatoes.
Now don’t get me wrong-a, super-ripe tomato will make the BEST salsa, and they are great over a salad; but the flesh should still be slightly firm, and the color dark red, any mold or black spots, and the fruit is out of commission.
If you have a tomato with a few dark specks, but the center is still fresh when cut, use a pairing knife to remove the dark specks and carry on enjoying your tomato.