Storing Tomatoes: Should Tomatoes Be in the Fridge – or Shouldn’t They?

Freshly harvested tomatoes taste particularly delicious! If you pay attention to a few points, tomatoes can also be stored well. The question that worries many: Can tomatoes go in the fridge? We reveal the best way to store tomatoes.

The tomato is one of the absolute favorite vegetables of the Germans. But tomatoes are only really aromatic in summer, when they are in season here. The season for domestic tomatoes lasts from June to October.

Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family and are made up of 94 percent water. This means that tomatoes are extremely low in calories (17 kcal per 100 g). The rest of the fruit has it all: tomatoes are rich in vitamin C, fiber, and potassium. There are also phytochemicals that are supposed to help protect against cardiovascular diseases and strengthen the body’s defences.

Storing tomatoes: 5 tips

With optimal storage, you can keep tomatoes for up to 14 days. However, it is better if you eat the red, yellow or orange fruits within a week.

Open, dark, cool: This is the best way to store ripe tomatoes

Do not pack ripe tomatoes in a bag, tupperware or similar, but store them open in an airy and dark place. Tomatoes need oxygen to develop their full aroma. A temperature of 12 to 16 degrees Celsius is ideal. The small, sweet vine tomatoes like it a little warmer: they feel most comfortable at 15 to 18 degrees.
If possible, do not pack tomatoes on top of each other, but side by side on a surface lined with kitchen paper – this way the sensitive fruits do not get bruises.
Please leave the stalks and blossoms on the fruit so the tomatoes stay fresh for longer.
Wash the tomatoes just before you eat them.

Allow unripe tomatoes to ripen

You should not eat unripe, green tomatoes. They contain poisonous solanine, which – but only in large quantities – can lead to symptoms of poisoning. Signs of too much solanine include breathing problems, sore throat, stomach upset, diarrhea and body aches.

You can wrap unripe tomatoes in newspaper and then let them ripen at room temperature. A sunny windowsill is also a good place to let tomatoes ripen.

By the way: The natural toxin solanine can also lead to dangerous poisoning in green and germinating potatoes.

Tomatoes: please keep them separately

Tomatoes give off the ripening gas ethylene, which accelerates the metabolism of fruit and vegetables and allows them to ripen faster. Therefore, always store tomatoes separately.

Of course, you can also take advantage of the effect of ethylene: If you want to ripen unripe apples, bananas, apricots, cucumbers or peppers, for example, you can simply place the fruit next to the tomatoes and they will ripen faster.

Also read: Bought an unripe banana or mango? In this way, the fruits ripen quickly

Can tomatoes go in the fridge?

Does it make sense to store tomatoes in the fridge to prolong their life? The answer to the question is clearly: no. Tomatoes are sensitive to cold and generally do not belong in the refrigerator. There they quickly lose their aroma, become floury and begin to mold early. The red vegetables are most comfortable at 12 to 16 degrees.

On hot days, it is therefore better to store the tomatoes in the cool cellar, if possible, instead of putting them in the refrigerator.

Can you freeze tomatoes?

Yes, you can easily freeze tomatoes. Due to their high water content, however, they become soft and mushy when stored in the freezer. They are no longer suitable for direct consumption, but you can use them to make sauces or soups.

What to do with very ripe tomatoes?

When tomatoes get a “sloppy,” soft skin, that’s a sign they’ve passed their prime. Very ripe tomatoes are no longer ideal for dishes such as tomato and mozzarella, but they are perfect for preserving. Incidentally, tomatoes are particularly healthy when cooked or otherwise processed: the yellow-red plant pigments (carotenoids) are then better absorbed than with fresh tomatoes.

Important to know: If mold appears on the tomato, you should no longer eat it. Due to the watery consistency, the mold spores spread quickly throughout the fruit.

Exactly this mold turned out to be a problem in our test of tomato sauces: In four tomato sauces, the laboratory we commissioned detected mold toxins at a level that we downgrade. Mold toxins are not only disgusting, but also a potential health hazard. These are alternaria toxins, specifically alternariol (AOH) and tenuazonic acid (TEA).

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Written by John Myers

Professional Chef with 25 years of industry experience at the highest levels. Restaurant owner. Beverage Director with experience creating world-class nationally recognized cocktail programs. Food writer with a distinctive Chef-driven voice and point of view.

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