How to Store Tomatoes - Backyard Boss
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How to Store Tomatoes

Maybe you’ve enjoyed a hearty harvest and you’ve been plucking plump tomatoes of different varieties all summer long, or perhaps you’ve just brought home the ripest pickings from the grocery store. However you’ve gotten your hands on a few juicy tomatoes, you’ll need to properly store them.

There’s nothing worse than getting excited for a tomato-based summer meal only to discover they’ve all gone rotten in the fridge. Speaking of, should you even store tomatoes in the fridge? Below, you’ll discover all the best tips, tricks, and methods for properly storing tomatoes to ensure they last as long as possible.

Tools You’ll Need for Storing Tomatoes

Ripe and unripe tomatoes
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There are a few different tools you’ll need to properly store tomatoes. Below, you’ll find the essentials as well as a few optional items depending on the storage method you choose.

  • Perforated bowl
  • Paper bag
  • Airtight plastic bag or container
  • Oven or dehydrator

Storing Tomatoes

Option 1: On the Counter

Tomatoes in a paper bag
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Whether you’ve brought a package of tomatoes home from the grocery store or handpicked them from your own vegetable garden, ripe tomatoes are best stored at room temperature. Because tomatoes continue to ripen off the vine, keep the fruit out of direct sunlight to avoid uneven (further) ripening. Also, face the stem upwards to stop the fruit from darkening and softening.

Keep tomatoes in a ventilated container such as a perforated bowl or paper bag. Ripe tomatoes will last around two to three days on the counter while unripe tomatoes can last around five days

Pro Tip: This is the best method for tomatoes that aren’t totally ripe since they will continue to ripen on the counter.

Option 2: Refrigeration

Vegetable compartment of the refrigerator
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You should only store tomatoes in the fridge once they are fully ripe, otherwise, you should keep them at room temperature to develop the proper flavors. If your tomatoes are freshly ripe and you’d like them to last a few extra days, you can store them in the fridge.

Keep the tomatoes in a perforated container or paper bag and store them in the crisper to reduce water loss. Also, store tomatoes in the fridge for less than three days to avoid flavor loss. You should also store chopped or sliced tomatoes in the fridge if they are not consumed within two hours of preparation. Keep them in an air-tight container or plastic bag which will last about one to two days in the fridge.

Pro Tip: Keep tomatoes away from any veggies such as lettuce since the fruit emits ethylene gas, which can cause vegetables to ripen too quickly.

Option 3: Freezing

Frozen red tomatoes. Slices, pieces, puree frozen tomatoes on a wooden board
Image credits: Ahanov Michael via Shutterstock

If you’re looking for something more long-term, you can also freeze tomatoes. You can store tomatoes in any form, whether they are whole or chopped, as well as raw or cooked. Once the tomatoes freeze, they may become mushy and are best served as sauces or in soups and casseroles.

Option 4: Dried Tomatoes

sun dried red and yellow cherry tomatoes on dehydrator tray
Image credits: Sergiy Bykhunenko via Shutterstock]

You can also dehydrate tomatoes to preserve them for longer. You should use firm, ripe tomatoes for drying. Dehydration time will depend on the tomato variety, the thickness of the pieces, and the oven or dehydrator used.

As a general rule of thumb, you should wash and cut and then dry the tomatoes at 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celcius) in an oven or dehydrator. This process can take between six to 12 hours.

Store the dried tomatoes in an air-tight container or plastic bag and place them in the refrigerator for six to 12 months. You can rehydrate them by soaking them in warm water or olive oil. Then use them in plenty of different recipes.

Option 5: Canning Tomatoes

tomato sauce
Image credits: Anshu A via Unsplash

Another option for storing tomatoes is canning them. You can also chop, slice, or turn the tomatoes into a pureé, soup, or sauce. The tomatoes should be disease-free, ripe, and washed. You can follow any preparation recipe you prefer — but remember to store the tomatoes in an air-tight jar or container.

Tips for Storing Tomatoes

Tomatoes on a windowsill
Image credits: Gerry Bishop via Shutterstock

Now that you’ve learned about all the different methods for storing and preserving tomatoes, there are a few tips that will help you along the way. Check them out below.

  • Sort the tomatoes every few days, separating the green and red tomatoes and removing rotten ones. This will slow down the ripening process, helping the tomatoes last longer.
  • Avoid washing the tomatoes until you use them.
  • Handle the tomatoes gently to avoid bruising.
  • Throw away or compost any moldy tomatoes immediately.
  • Bring tomatoes to room temperature before serving for the best flavor.

Ready, Set, Store It!

Tomatoes make a delicious addition to almost every summer meal, and if you store and preserve them properly, you can enjoy the delicious flavors throughout the season. You can store tomatoes on the counter or in the fridge for a few days, but you can also preserve them by freezing, drying, or storing them as a sauce or puree.

Will you be using any of these methods to store your freshly harvested tomatoes? Share below!

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