I think my refrigerator is a wonderful thing. It keeps my milk cold, my vegetables crisp and my open condiments from growing
moldy. But I think twice before I let the fresh heirloom tomatoes for my favorite tomato recipes
anywhere near that magical kitchen appliance.
If you put a fully ripened tomato in the fridge, the produce patrol probably won’t flog you, but it’s best to keep tomatoes
at room temperature on the counter, as nature intended.
The fridge can extend the life of many fruits and vegetables, but tomatoes are sensitive. They hate any temperature less than
about 50 degrees. They’ll sustain what’s called a “chilling injury” that will turn that red orb of juicy sweetness to a mealy
mess. A slightly underripe fruit is most susceptible to damage, as the cold temperatures stop the ripening process.
But what do you do if you’ve got more tomatoes than you can handle? (Like I do, compliments of my enormous garden.) You can
freeze them. Just take out the core (the green part that attaches to the vine) and freeze them whole in a gallon zip-lock
bag. Of course you’ll never end up with a perfect vine-ripened tomato that you can slice and serve raw after it’s been
frozen, but the textural change freezing imparts isn’t a factor when you’re using frozen tomatoes for cooking. (Learn
the best way to Freeze Fresh Produce here.
) Tomatoes frozen at their peak retain their flavor. I like to make
tomato sauce with my frozen tomatoes.
Ever try peeling a ripe tomato? The peel slips right off a frozen tomato much more easily than from a fresh one, which saves
time if you want your sauce to be peel-free.