But the question has made me think back on it, and to be honest, I can remember losing quite a few beautiful summer tomatoes over the years to rapid rot and decomposition, because they were sitting out in sweltering heat.Right now, for example, I'm typing this while sitting in my sweltering apartment, and I'd guess—based on the amount of sweat soaking from my lower back into my chair—that it's at least 90° in here.To answer these questions, I set up a series of experiments that spanned an entire summer and included literally hundreds upon hundreds of tomatoes of different sources, varieties, and quality and ripeness levels, and recruited a small army of blind-tasters to evaluate the results.If your tomatoes have never been refrigerated (i.e., if you grew them yourself or bought them from a farmers market stand you trust, in season):.Remove the stems and store unripe tomatoes upside down on a plate or cutting board at room temperature until they fully ripen.Refrigerate any unconsumed fully ripe tomatoes, but allow them to come to room temperature before serving them.But this is the relevant quote: "Red ripe fruits were stored at 5°C for 1, 3, or 7 d followed by a recovery period of either 1 or 3 d at 20°C, and volatiles were measured.So here’s what you need to know: Leave your tomatoes at room temp for as long as possible, especially if they’re still a little shy of hitting their peak ripeness.And here’s the other thing to know: The refrigerator is not great for tomatoes—it can degrade their texture and dampen their flavor—but it’s far more harmful to lower-quality and underripe tomatoes than it is to truly ripe, delicious ones.I bought several of each variety, selecting similar-looking specimens to minimize variations in ripeness—fairly easy, given that these were all pretty crappy yet highly invariable mass-market fruit.In terms of relative quality, the cherry tomatoes were the best, the plums in the middle, and the standard ones were the worst.To make sure the cold of the refrigerator didn't sway their votes, I let the chilled tomatoes warm up to room temp before proceeding with the tasting.The standard tomatoes, for instance, had turned redder on the counter than they had in the fridge, though the difference was subtle.The plum tomatoes showed a similar effect, with the countertop ones (at left in the photo above) redder than the chilled ones to the right.Here, the refrigerated sample is to the left, with a slightly lighter, less red color, though the difference is just barely visible.The plum tomato showed the most drastic visual difference, with the refrigerated sample appearing more white and grainy in its flesh than the countertop one.The cherry tomatoes showed the least difference, with a just barely perceptible increase in redness in the countertop sample (at left).Well, first, my mom was disqualified because she kept rejecting all the tomatoes, regardless of storage method, while reminiscing about what they used to taste like in the farmlands of Maryland where she grew up in the '40s and '50s.My sister, thankfully, was able to focus on the task at hand—analyzing the relative, not absolute, merits of these tomatoes—and give me her opinion.She found the countertop ones to be more aromatic and sweet, with a better texture, than the refrigerated ones, though she said the differences weren't as apparent with the cherry tomatoes.A tomato that is just fine, but not great, like the plums I bought, can benefit quite a bit from being left out at room temp.So, a day later, I sat my family down again—this time my sister, stepfather, and mother (who, I explained to her, could only participate if she forgot about those mythic Maryland tomatoes and focused on the ones in front of her).Once again, I let the refrigerated tomatoes warm up to room temperature before serving them alongside the countertop ones.And the weirdest thing happened: My sister reversed all her picks from the day before, and consistently selected the refrigerated tomatoes as her favorites this time.One possibility with this initial set of test results is that, because my mom's home was a warmish 75 to 80°F, the heat started to take its toll on my countertop samples once enough time had elapsed.As I've reviewed some tomato literature, this explanation starts to make some sense, though I haven't verified that it's correct.According to this report from the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, firm, ripe tomatoes are best held at anywhere from 44 to 50°F (7 to 10°C), which is higher than fridge temperature but lower than most rooms.But what the studies I've found fail to explore is the effect of even higher temperatures on tomato storage.Given that tomatoes ripen in the summer, the challenge is that we're trying to store them at home during a season characterized by intense heat, and we don't usually have storage conditions in the 44-to-50°F range.This article from Business Insider illustrates my point well: The scientist quoted in the piece, who is recommending that we not refrigerate our tomatoes, casually defines normal kitchen temperature as between 68 and 73°F (20 and 23°C).My first test delivered some surprises, but it was based on just a few varieties of lesser-quality supermarket tomatoes, which left some questions unanswered.In five out of 11 tests, tasters unanimously preferred the refrigerated tomatoes—the countertop tomatoes tasted flat and dull in comparison.Below, you can see the relative merits of counter versus refrigerator storage at the four-day mark on a pair of tomatoes that started out just about equally ripe.If you buy underripe tomatoes, leave them out at room temperature until they're fully ripened, then move them to a cooler spot for longer storage.If you have a wine fridge or cool cellar, store all ripe tomatoes that you can't eat within the first day there.If you don't have a wine fridge or cool cellar, store all ripe tomatoes that you can't eat within the first day in the refrigerator.If you're storing tomatoes in the refrigerator, it may be better to locate them on a top shelf near the door, which is often warmer than the bottom and back of the fridge.If you're the kind of person who can't stand eating fridge-cold tomatoes and doesn't have the time or patience to let them warm back up on the counter, then you've got some tough decisions ahead of you, I'm afraid.Here on the East Coast, I went to the farmers market and bought a large load of both regular red tomatoes and a variety of heirlooms.** My plan was to do one giant blind tasting in the office, with as many people as I could wrangle, and more quantitative measures (as opposed to the strictly qualitative assessments I had done earlier in the summer).Meanwhile, over yonder in the Bay Area, Kenji went and picked his own tomatoes straight from the vine, just to remove any lingering question about the handling practices of the middlemen.When I ran my initial series of tests, it was at the height of summer in New York City, with temperatures well above 80°F (27°C).My whole argument revolved around very hot summertime conditions, and I had made no claim that the refrigerator was equal to or better than temps in the 70s and below.Tasters evaluated the tomatoes on a scale of one to 10 on four criteria: overall preference, flavor, aroma, and texture.Of all the tomatoes in the tasting, all of us (the 10 tasters plus me) agreed, unanimously, that the small yellow tomatoes—the ones that scored highest in the fridge and out—were the best.After 12 rounds, Max had correctly identified the odd tomato six times, which is slightly better than chance.(In a triangle test, random guessing should yield correct answers one-third of the time, which in this case would be four out of the 12 rounds.).What this test shows is that once that knowledge is removed, the differences can be subtle enough that tasters have a very hard time telling refrigerated and countertop tomatoes apart.Out in the Bay Area, Kenji also ran his tests, with tomatoes he picked directly off the vine himself.The fourth person who did the triangle test selected the odd one out incorrectly, but she still picked the refrigerated tomato as her favorite.Science itself has done nothing wrong: It's a beautiful system—the best one we've got—for answering questions about how pretty much everything in the observable universe works.The studies I found didn't examine tomatoes that were picked when fully ripe, and they didn't consider warmer storage temperatures, certainly not above 80°F.But that last step is the problem: The don't-refrigerate wisdom was good throughout the supply chain and kept the tomatoes in the best possible condition, but it doesn't necessarily apply to the retail customer with different storage conditions at home, or to tomatoes that are picked when ripe—conditions that had not been tested in any scientific study I found.Another example of the misuse of science is in this Alton Brown Facebook directive: "Do me a favor: Never put tomatoes in the refrigerator," he implores.How can we possibly draw an actionable conclusion from one single factor in such an intricate system as a tomato?None of my tests, nor Kenji's, are rigorous enough for publication in any kind of scientific journal, but I think we've each had clear enough results that no one should at this point continue to believe that the no-refrigeration rule is always true. .
Should Tomatoes Be Refrigerated? The Truth Is Juicy – PureWow
Whole, ripe tomatoes should be stored in the fridge, but you should let them warm up to room temp before eating them.Letting them hang outside the fridge for a day or two (or even an hour) before eating them can bring back some of the flavor.Over-ripe tomatoes (like the squishy, shriveled one you have hanging out in your kitchen right this second) left on the counter will go bad pronto.If the tomatoes you bought aren’t quite ready for their debut, leave them on the kitchen counter for a few days until they’re juicy and soft.Just like oranges, you should keep under-ripe tomatoes out of direct sunlight and in a single layer without piling them to prevent mold.Store them stem side-down to block air from entering the tomato and to lock moisture in.Just place the tomato cut-side down on a paper towel and seal in an airtight container.This limits moisture loss and keeps air out, which will help them stay juicy longer.A wine fridge or cool cellar is a great place to keep ripe tomatoes that aren’t going to be eaten right away.But know that the texture and appearance might be a bit mushy once it’s thawed, so use it in something like sauce or soup.Ever made a salad with tomatoes only to be left with a big puddle of seeds at the bottom of the bowl?If you’re blending tomatoes for soup or sauce, the seeds offer umami and dimension.These are particularly low in water and seeds, so you can get all that tomatoey goodness without diluting the finished product.Because they’re huge and juicy, they have higher water content, meaning they’re not great to cook with.We’re obsessed with the tanginess of green tomatoes (especially battered and fried with a side of spicy mayo…but we digress). .
How to Store Tomatoes the Right Way
There's some conflicting information floating around the ether, and it's time to set the record straight.What you don't want is to put an underripe tomato in a cold fridge—in On Food and Cooking, food scientist Harold McGee explains that ripe tomatoes, "are especially sensitive to chilling at temperatures below about 55ºF...and suffer damage to their membranes that results in minimal flavor development, blotchy coloration, and a soft, mealy texture when they’re brought back to room temperature.".At that temperature, ripe tomatoes will be held in stasis, neither ripening or becoming damaged by cold.Room temperature, on the other hand, is typically somewhere around 70°F—a good deal higher than the 55°F your tomato wants. .
The only time you should refrigerate tomatoes
Millions of tomatoes would leave our town every week in crates, headed for other distribution facilities to then be trucked to supermarkets across the United States.The tomatoes are picked rock hard and unripe to protect its bumpy journey across conveyor belts, washing machines, trucks, crates and handling, stickering, bagging and the car ride to your kitchen.So, once the tomato is in your home, what’s the best way to store for the best flavor, best texture and prevent spoilage?According to extensive research by the University of Florida Horticultural Sciences Department, the ideal temperature for ripening tomatoes is 65°F to 75°F.The tomato experiences “chilling injury” – pitting, mealiness, uneven ripening, decay and non-development of aroma compounds (source: USDA).However, if you take the refrigerated tomatoes, and let them sit at warmer temperatures, some, not all of the flavor compounds return.Nearly all of their research was testing commercial tomatoes — the ones that are harvested unripened and travel a long journey to your dinnerplate.They found that good quality, ripe tomatoes fared just fine in the refrigerator.But note that they used super fresh, at peak of ripeness tomatoes….not commercial, supermarket tomatoes.Place them in a brown paper bag and in your crisper drawer where humidity is higher.…is actually a wine refrigerator, set at 65°F, which is cold enough for your reds and warm enough for your tomatoes.It takes too long, creates more dishes to wash and wastes energy.Just hold your tomato gently in your palm, and move the peeler quickly, back and forth in a short, zigzag motion.The OXO Good Grips because it’s so easy to clean (just throw in dishwasher) and comfortable to use.But the Kuhn Rikon peelers have to be washed by hand (just a quick rinse) and dried immediately to keep the blade sharp and prevent rusting.Basically, the bag is acting like a mini greenhouse, according to Planet Natural Research Center.Plastic bags trap too much humidity (causing mold instead of ripening).And just leaving the tomatoes on the counter won’t experience the ideal humidity needed.To hasten ripening, throw an apple or banana in the paper bag as well.Place the frozen dehydrated tomatoes into a food processor or blender and process until it becomes a fine powder.Tomato powder is a wonderful all-natural vegan “umami” flavor enhancer.It will add a complex, savory-sweet flavor to soups, scrambled eggs, casseroles, stews, smoothies, sauces…well, pretty much any recipe you can think of.Mix with dried shiitake powder and sprinkle on steaks before grilling.Effects of chilling on tomato fruit texture by Robert Jackman, Henry Gibson, David Stanley. .
How to Store Tomatoes
If you want to get a room full of tomato lovers fired up, announce to everyone that you put them in the fridge, and watch the vitriol flow.He notes that anything other than fully ripe tomatoes really suffer after refrigeration in every way—flavor development, coloration, and mealy texture.However, the key phrase to pay attention to here is “anything other than fully ripe tomatoes.” Temperatures below 55° F (like the inside of your refrigerator) halt unripe tomatoes’ flavor-producing enzyme activity.McGee notes that while fully ripe fresh tomatoes are still susceptible to flavor loss when placed in the refrigerator, some of that enzyme activity can come back if they are allowed to recover for a day or two at room temperature before eating.You might have heard not to store tomatoes upside-down because the “shoulders” (the area around the stem scar) are delicate and susceptible to bruising.If you’re worried about that, America’s Test Kitchen has a solution: Place a piece of tape over the stem scar. .
Which Fruits and Vegetables Can You Leave Out on the Counter?
Knowing how to store produce correctly extends its life, makes the most out of seasonal bounty, and reduces food waste.Selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, berries, cucumbers, potatoes, and eggplant Credit: Frances Kim.Apricots, Asian pears, avocado, bananas, guava, kiwis, mangoes, melons, nectarines, papayas, passion fruit, pawpaw, peaches, pears, persimmons, pineapples, plantain, plums, starfruit, soursop, and quince will continue to ripen if left out on the counter.When perfectly ripe, they can be refrigerated for a few days to extend their usefulness a little longer (yes, even bananas: while their skins may blacken the fruit will be unspoiled).Keep these starchy tubers in a cool, dark, airy space, loosely stacked in a bowl or bins, but not in plastic bags (or moisture will accumulate and will encourage mold and deterioration).Tomatoes (technically a fruit) should be left out on a counter, even when ripe (they will lose flavor when chilled).Certain groups of produce can be stored together: root vegetables with their leaves removed— like beets, radishes, and turnips—can be combined in a single container.The list of berries includes blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, currants, grapes, strawberries, and raspberries. .
8 Fruits and Vegetables You Shouldn't Be Refrigerating
With the exception of spring onions and scallions, alliums shouldn’t be stored in the fridge.This is partially to preserve their texture, but it’s mostly because squash tend to take up a lot of real estate in the drawers and on the shelves of your fridge.Similar to the alliums we were talking about earlier, you want to store these starchy vegetables in a cool, dry, dark place.Like tomatoes, putting stone fruits—think plums, peaches, and cherries—in the fridge can make their flesh go mealy.But we prefer to eat melons at room temperature, so the flesh is as soft as possible.Changing the temperature of the melon will tense up the interior, possibly making it a tad less succulent. .
Can You Refrigerate Tomatoes?
In theory, this is because cold kills their flavor-producing enzymes and ruins their texture by causing cells to rupture.In the future, we’ll move both cut and whole ripe tomatoes to the refrigerator to prolong their shelf life. .
The Only Time You Should Ever Store Tomatoes in Your Fridge
Supposedly, refrigerated tomatoes develop a mealy texture and lose their flavor if they are exposed to cooler temperatures over time.Don't Miss: When to Throw Out Those Veggies in Your Fridge However, it turns out this advice is a bit controversial: apparently, tomatoes are not always meant to reside solely on countertops.But for ripe tomatoes, the opposite is true: it is better to put them in the fridge to stop them from turning moldy and inedible, especially if it is a hot summer's day.Thankfully, any refrigeration that does occur after the tomato reaches ripeness won't ruin their sweet flavor and juicy texture.But it's important to know how to store and serve them correctly in order to ensure that their flavor isn't altered by the cooler temperatures.So if you're unsure as to whether your smaller tomato varieties such as cherry or grape are ripe or not, it's okay—the effects on their structure and flavor will be much less pronounced. .
18 Foods That Don't Need the Fridge
Humans have been preserving food with snow and ice for at least 3,000 years, but the first commercial refrigerators, produced around the turn of the 20th Century, were a game-changer.Home refrigeration units made it possible for the first time in history to keep perishable foods fresh in quantity.While some foods absolutely require refrigeration, many don’t, and others that should be left at room temperature.Tomatoes begin to lose their flavor and texture when put in the fridge, turning mealy, mushy, and flavorless.Low temperatures wreak havoc on potatoes’ natural starches , affecting both their texture and flavor.The cold air inside the refrigerator tends to break down their crisp texture.Peaches, plums: Stone fruits should not be refrigerated if they’re unripe as they will not ripen in the fridge.Oranges, lemons, limes, clementines: Store citrus fruits on the counter.Onions, garlic: Storing these pungent alliums in the refrigerator will not only impart their smell onto other foods but will also soften them over time.While it’s fine to refrigerate jams and jellies, it’s also OK to leave them out after opening.If they’re very soft, you can get a few extra days by putting them in the fridge, but you’ll pay for it in flavor.Depending on temperatures, you can store butter on the counter, covered, for a week or so.Here on the other side of the pond, if you buy supermarket eggs, it’s a good idea to refrigerate them. .