How to Store Tomatoes

No need to overthink it.

Of course, you can get tomatoes year-round, but summer is when these garden gems really shine. It's hard to resist one of the season's best fruits at the farmers' market stand—but when you buy (or grow) more than you can eat at once, you might be facing a storage issue. Here, we'll show you how to store tomatoes the right way, as well as give you tips and recipes for using them.

Various types of tomatoes laid out on a table

The Best Way to Store Fresh Tomatoes

Contrary to how you like to eat your fresh tomatoes—in a cool summer salad, chilled in gazpacho or diced in a pico de gallo—this is the best way to store fresh tomatoes:

  1. Wipe away any dirt or debris with a paper towel.
  2. Place tomatoes upside-down on a plate—separate from other fruits and vegetables.
  3. Store in a cool place out of direct sunlight for up to five days.

Why store them this way? The reason you don't wash tomatoes is that any moisture on a ripe tomato can cause rot. If you want to wash them with water, you can do so right before you use them.

Tomatoes should be stem-side down for storage because their "shoulders" are the strongest part of the tomato and less susceptible to bruising. To keep them fresh, don't let them get too close to other fruits and vegetables, which may emit ethylene gas that speeds up the ripening process.

Lastly, keep them in the shade if you can. Perfectly ripe tomatoes sitting in the sun will start to rot pretty quickly. However, if you have unripe tomatoes, letting them sit in the sun or sticking them in a paper bag with a banana for a couple of days—to soak up the ethylene it emits—are good ways to ripen them.

Herbed Tomato Gratin

Herbed Tomato Gratin

Storing Fresh Tomatoes in the Refrigerator

Storing tomatoes in the refrigerator does extend their life, but the difference in flavor and texture between a refrigerated tomato and one stored at room temperature is noticeable. Tomatoes stored in the fridge become mealy and dull, taking away the full, juicy, flavorful tomato experience only happens when stored at room temperature. If you choose to refrigerate ripe tomatoes:

  1. Wipe away any dirt or debris with a paper towel.
  2. Place tomatoes upside-down on a plate—separate from other fruits and vegetables.
  3. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

If you plan to eat the refrigerated tomatoes raw, let them come up to room temperature before serving to experience the best flavors. Cooking refrigerated tomatoes is the best way to mask any changes in flavor or texture.

How to Freeze Fresh Tomatoes

Whether you're working with cherry tomatoes or heirloom tomatoes, freezing tomatoes is easy to do. Wash and thoroughly dry the tomatoes. If you're in a time crunch, you can place whole tomatoes in an airtight container and store them in the freezer for up to three months. If you have time to spare, you can prep your tomatoes to make them easier to use for cooking later. Remove the skin (you can blanch them to loosen the skin to make this process easier), then halve them and remove the seeds. While frozen tomatoes will not be the same as fresh, frozen tomatoes are excellent for tomato sauces and soups. Prepping them by removing the skin and seeds makes them easy to grab and use from the freezer when needed without additional prep work.

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