refrigerator with fresh produce

How To Store Tomatoes To Make Them Last

I love growing tomatoes. When it comes to tomatoes, I find that container gardening works best for me. And the results are the best! Fresh picked tomatoes are one of the most delicious vegetables out there, but if you’re anything like me, you find that you just can’t eat all the tomatoes you grow before they start going bad. Canning is a good option, but if you want to keep your tomatoes fresh, knowing how to store tomatoes can make all the difference. The way you store your tomatoes depends on their stage of development. Green tomatoes picked near the end of the season will need different care than very ripe tomatoes nearing the end of their shelf life. Here’s what you should know.

Read More: How To Prune Tomatoes For A Better Harvest

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How to store green tomatoes

Usually near the end of my growing season, I’ll have a tomato plant bursting with beautiful red tomatoes, but there are also a fair number of green tomatoes still trying to ripen before the first frost. Unfortunately, they won’t be able to ripen on the vine, so I always just go ahead and pick them as late as possible. What happens next will determine whether they ripen or not.

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Don’t put green tomatoes in your refrigerator. Chilling tomatoes halts the ripening process, so green tomatoes simply won’t ripen in a refrigerator. Instead, keep your tomatoes at room temperature. You can simply place them on a counter top until they ripen. This can take a few days to a week. Occasionally, a green tomato won’t ripen before it starts going bad.

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You could also just go for making some fried green tomatoes!

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How to store ripe tomatoes

If you have a plump, ripe tomato that’s ready for eating, storing it in a cool part of your house is the way to go. Ripe tomatoes like to be stored at around 55 degrees Fahrenheit, which is about 20 degrees warmer than the average refrigerator. If you keep your ripe tomato in a colder environment, it could begin to lose its flavor. If you do refrigerate your tomatoes, leave them at room temperature for a few hours. Some of the lost flavor may begin to return to it.

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Storing very ripe tomatoes

So let’s say you have a big, juicy red tomato that’s starting to get a little on the overly ripe side. It may feel soggy or squishy to the touch. If it hasn’t gone completely bad yet, you can slow its ripening process by placing it in your refrigerator. The refrigerator will have the same impact on a very ripe tomato as it does a ripe tomato – reducing its overall flavor. If you refrigerate your tomatoes, leave them out on your counter for a few hours before consuming.

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Cody Medina
Freelance Writer
Cody was born on the western slope of Colorado. In his high school career, Cody was nominated and awarded the Amazing Youth Leadership Award by the HRC for establishing one of the first Gay Straight Alliances which then inspired the creation of several other GSAs on the western slope. Cody’s interest in environmentalism stemmed from that experience as well. Cody now resides in Oregon with his partner and beloved animals. He enjoys hiking, camping, running, climbing, watching movies, writing, reading, walking his dog, driving to the ocean, and hanging out with his friends when possible.
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