Are You Storing Your Tomatoes Correctly?

By Ellie Smith

1 week ago

Fridge or fruit bowl? We settle the debate


A staple in everything from salads to pasta sauces to sandwiches to pizza, tomatoes are one of the most versatile fruits out there. But home cooks can’t seem to agree on where to keep them. Ask your friends where they store their tomatoes, and no doubt you’ll be met with some conflicting opinions: some will be firmly in the fridge camp, while others will be strong believers that tomatoes shine best at room temperature. So what do the experts think?

How To Store Tomatoes

Sorry, refrigerator believers: many chefs seem to agree that tomatoes should generally be kept on your kitchen counter. ‘Never put tomatoes in the fridge, because they just don’t taste as good,’ says cookery writer Skye McAlpine. ‘It just seems to really upset them. Always keep them out in a bowl in the kitchen. They look pretty, but also mostly because they don’t taste good when they’ve been in the fridge.

‘It’s annoying because supermarket tomatoes have already been refrigerated, but I feel that if you can give them a couple of days out of the fridge before you eat them, I’m convinced it makes a difference,’ she adds.

Marcus Wareing agrees. During an appearance on the BBC’s This Morning Live, he said: ‘I think the best way to get the flavour is to get them out of the fridge, get them out of the packets, into a bowl, onto a window ledge and let the sunshine on to them wherever possible.’

This is supported, too, by grocer Abel & Cole, who says: ‘Tomatoes don’t belong in the fridge. Enjoy red, slightly soft tomatoes as soon as possible. If they’re firm, pop them somewhere cool to ripen.’

Tomatoes

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Why? Because tomatoes are warm weather foods, and continue to ripen at room temperature or higher. Usually they are sold a little before their ideal ripeness, so putting them in the fridge might halt progress. 

It’s also to do with the science: tomatoes contain an enzyme which reacts to cold temperatures, which can leave you with mushy fruit. Plus, refrigerating tomatoes could affect the taste – as shown by this 2016 US study, which found that chilling tomatoes for a week caused them to lose flavour at the genetic level. To put it in technical terms, researchers concluded: ‘chilling-induced tomato flavor loss is associated with altered volatile synthesis and transient changes in DNA methylation.’

Should You Ever Store Tomatoes In The Fridge?

Experts recommend tomatoes should be stored in cool locations, so if you’re living in a hot country, leaving them outside of the fridge may cause them to ripen (and ultimately rot) faster than you’d like. Also, if you’ve bought very ripe tomatoes, popping them in the fridge can be a saving grace.