The Best Ways To Keep Tomatoes Fresh

Whether you just brought home a container of beautiful heirloom tomatoes or you have a basket full of tomatoes you've grown at home, having too many ripe or soon-to-be ripe tomatoes at one time can feel like a curse. Of course, no one wants them to go to waste, but you might not have the time or desire to preserve their fresh flavor by cooking them into dishes such as salsa, marinara, tomato bisque, or even tomato confit. That's why it's important to know the best ways to not only keep your tomatoes fresh but how to extend their shelf life, too. 

Though it is a prevalent theory that tomatoes should not be kept in the fridge, there are some exceptions to this rule. While Cook's Illustrated explains that keeping tomatoes in the fridge can alter their texture and dampen their flavor, sometimes using the fridge may be a good option. With the right tricks for storing tomatoes, you can keep them fresh for much longer than you might expect.

Place them on the counter

According to Serious Eats, the best way to store fresh tomatoes that have never been refrigerated is on the countertop. All you need to do to prep the tomatoes is remove the stem and place the tomatoes stem-side down on a flat surface on the countertop. The tomatoes should stay in this position until each tomato has fully ripened. Depending on how green or firm the tomatoes were when you picked or bought them, it could take up to several days for the tomatoes to ripen. 

Overall, using this method can keep your fresh, ripening tomatoes at their best for close to a week. But once tomatoes have fully ripened at room temperature, they will not stay fresh for very long. So be prepared to use any tomatoes you keep on the counter very quickly after they have ripened. Those who like tomatoes on the firmer side can even dig in sooner. 

How to make the most of your fridge

If your tomatoes are coming from a retailer where they were kept refrigerated or if the tomatoes you have are already very ripe, then it is best to place them in the fridge. According to Bon Appétit, placing tomatoes in the fridge can lengthen the shelf life of a very ripe tomato because it slows the tomato from additional ripening at a quick pace. So instead of a rotten tomato on the countertop, you can have a cold tomato that hasn't turned quite so soft or gone bad. 

Using the fridge can keep tomatoes fresh for longer than they can keep on the counter, but how long depends on how ripe the tomatoes are when they are placed in the fridge. Very ripe tomatoes will not keep for long in the fridge, but you might be able to save them for a few hours or even until the next day. Tomatoes that are not at peak ripeness can stay fresh in the fridge for up to a week or even longer (via Still Tasty). 

With this distinction between which tomatoes should be in the fridge and on the counter, you'll never have to throw away another tomato again.