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Here’s Why You Should Never Store Tomatoes in The Fridge (And When You Should)

Tomatoes, nearing their peak season, should generally be stored on the counter to retain their natural ripening process, flavor, and texture. Room temperature storage allows them to ripen fully, lasting up to a week. However, if they become overly ripe, refrigeration can slow further ripening and prevent spoilage, though it may affect texture.

By Cookist

Tomatoes are close to being in season, and with that comes an age-old dilemma: should they be stored in the fridge or not? This debate has stirred much discussion among home cooks and chefs alike. We're here to quell any doubts and offer definitive guidance on how to store tomatoes.

Why You Shouldn't Store Tomatoes in the Fridge

Storing tomatoes in the fridge can significantly alter their texture and flavor. The cold temperature hinders the natural ripening process by slowing down the enzymes responsible for developing the tomato's aroma and taste. This results in a watery texture and a lack of the characteristic sweet and tangy flavor we associate with fresh tomatoes. Furthermore, refrigeration causes the tomatoes’ cellular structure to break down, leading to a mealy, unappealing texture.


How Long Tomatoes Last on the Counter

Tomatoes thrive at room temperature, making the countertop an ideal storage spot. Fresh, ripe tomatoes can last anywhere from a few days to a week when kept at room temperature. It's crucial to store them stem-side down to minimize air exposure and moisture loss. If you have unripe tomatoes, leave them on the counter to continue ripening until they reach their peak color and firmness, ensuring optimal flavor.


When You Must Store Tomatoes in the Fridge

While storing tomatoes on the counter is generally preferred, there are instances when refrigeration is necessary. If a tomato becomes overly ripe, storing it in the fridge can slow further ripening and prevent spoilage. In these cases, it's advisable to place tomatoes in the fridge's crisper drawer to minimize temperature fluctuations, preserving their freshness. However, try to consume them within a few days to avoid deterioration in flavor and texture.

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