Tomatoes are one of the most popular fruits in North America today. They are rich in plant-based nutrients, like vitamin C and lycopene, which have a variety of health benefits. If you enjoy eating tomatoes, you may wonder if you can refrigerate them. After all, tomatoes are perishable foods and tend to go bad quickly once it’s harvested.
Can You Refrigerate Ripe Tomatoes?
Yes, you can refrigerate ripe tomatoes. Ripe tomatoes are a little softer than unripe ones, so it’s best to store them in a bowl or container that will support their weight and prevent them from bruising.
If you have a lot of tomatoes, place them in the refrigerator for up to two days before using them. You can also store sliced or chopped tomatoes in the refrigerator for up to two days.
How long do ripe tomatoes last?
Ripe tomatoes keep well for about a week at room temperature if kept out of direct sunlight and extreme temperatures (above 90 degrees F). Once picked, they begin to lose some of their flavor and texture over time. Most varieties will keep best when stored at 55 degrees F and above, although some may prefer warmer temperatures (75-80 degrees F).
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Refrigerating unripe tomatoes can slow their ripening process, but it won’t stop it. Tomatoes are actually fruits, and as such, they contain seeds. The seeds need to grow in order for the tomato to mature and become edible.
In order to do this, a tomato needs to be exposed to ethylene gas. Ethylene is a hormone that’s produced naturally by many plants and animals, including humans. When ethylene is released from the plant or animal source, it triggers changes inside other plants or animals. For example, the release of ethylene by apples causes them to begin ripening.
Ethylene production increases in response to heat and light exposure — both of which occur when you store tomatoes at room temperature before they’re ripe. So if you store your unripe tomatoes at room temperature instead of refrigerating them, they’ll keep ripening until they’ve reached their peak flavor.
Refrigeration can slow down the process (by slowing down the release of ethylene) but won’t stop it entirely.
Why You Should Not Store Your Tomatoes With Other Produce
Tomatoes and other vegetables are best stored separately. Tomatoes are naturally very high in acid, and they give off a lot of ethylene gas as they ripen. This can cause other produce to rot and wilt.
If you have many tomatoes, it’s best to store them in an empty paper bag in the refrigerator, rather than a plastic bag. The paper bag allows the tomatoes to breathe and absorbs moisture from the air. Plastic bags trap ethylene gas inside, which can cause more damage to other produce in your fridge.
You should also keep your tomatoes away from onions, potatoes, and garlic because these foods release gases that can cause damage to the other foods in your refrigerator.
There’s no need to refrigerate cucumbers or zucchini unless they’re going bad or have been exposed to ethylene-producing fruits such as apples or bananas. You should never store tomatoes with potatoes or apples because this combination will produce too much ethylene gas that could damage your potato crops and cause them to rot prematurely.
How Long Can You Store Tomatoes?
Once you bring fresh, homegrown tomatoes into your kitchen, they do not stay fresh for long. While some varieties can last up to two weeks if stored properly, others will start showing signs of decay after just a few days. If you have a lot of tomatoes ready for harvest and want to preserve them so that you can enjoy them through the winter months, it is important to know how long can you store tomatoes at home.
The best way to preserve your tomatoes is by freezing them whole or crushed in jars or bags. The biggest problem with storing raw tomatoes is that they develop an unpleasant taste when exposed to air because of an enzyme called polygalacturonase (PG). This enzyme causes the fruit’s cell walls to break down which is a process known as softening. This will leads to the deterioration of its texture and flavor over time.
Can You Refrigerate Canned Tomatoes?
If you have a bag of pre-made canned tomatoes in your pantry, do they need to be refrigerated? The answer is yes! Canned tomatoes are usually processed at high temperatures and without the use of preservatives. When exposed to high temperatures, these ingredients break down into harmful compounds that may cause health problems. So if you open your canned tomatoes up, place them in the fridge or freezer right away.
There are some exceptions to this rule though. Some canned tomatoes with lower acidity levels can be stored on the shelf for long periods of time without refrigeration. If you’re not sure which type of canned tomato you have, check the packaging for a list of ingredients. If it doesn’t mention any preservatives or other additives like sulfites, then it can be stored and consumed at room temperature.
Can You Freeze Fresh Tomatoes?
Fresh tomatoes are a joy to cook with, but they don’t always last long. If you have a lot of fresh tomatoes that need preserving, you can freeze them. Freezing is a great way to keep your tomatoes for later use in soups, sauces, and salsas. It also helps avoid waste if you don’t want to can or dry your tomatoes right away.
Freezing fresh tomatoes works best when the fruit is at its ripest stage. To freeze ripe tomatoes, simply wash off any dirt and cut off any damaged areas on the skins. Slice the tomatoes into desired sizes and place them on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper or parchment paper. Place the sheet in the freezer until the tomatoes are frozen solid (about an hour).
Once frozen, remove the tomato slices from their tray and store them in freezer bags until needed (usually one month). The frozen tomato slices should be used within one year for best quality results; however, they can last longer depending on how well they are stored and handled before use.
Tomatoes are best eaten fresh, so unless you are planning to eat your tomatoes within the next couple of days you should refrigerate them. They will last for about 3-4 days in the refrigerator and an additional 3-4 days in the freezer. Canned tomatoes are best eaten within 4-6 months but can be frozen for up to 2 years. They can also be canned with a low-acid content in order to extend their shelf life but it will not keep them from turning brown.