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Can Tomatoes Be Refrigerated?

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Tomatoes are common ingredients in recipes and as garnishes at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but cutting them every time can be a hassle. Consequently, many people wonder if they can cut several tomatoes all at once and refrigerate them. If you are one of those people keep reading this article.

Can Cut Tomatoes Be Refrigerated?

If you have already cut the tomatoes it is better to refrigerate them. Cut tomatoes attract bacteria and are susceptible to spoilage when left outside the fridge, especially in summer when the ambient temperature is high.

close up of male hand cutting tomato on cutting board at home

A study has shown that cut tomatoes, when left outside at room temperature, lasted only for a day. But when they were stored in the refrigerator, they held up fine for two days. (source)

However, unripe tomatoes should be stored at room temperature and out of direct sunlight’s reach. Place them with the stem side down to make them fresher and last longer.

Like their sliced counterparts, ripe whole tomatoes should be put in the fridge. Take them out half an hour before eating so they can go back to room temperature. 

How to Store Cut Tomatoes?

When it comes to storing cut tomatoes, the refrigerator is preferable because they will last longer there. However, they can be stored at both room temperature and in the refrigerator. Here’s how you can do that.

Storing Tomatoes at Room Temperature

If you are going to use the cut tomatoes within 24 hours then they can be left at room temperature.

However, diced or chopped tomatoes cannot be kept at room temperature and must be stored in a refrigerator.

Cut the tomatoes in half or in slices and place them in a container in a cool, clean location. Do not store them on a surface prone to a high or low temperature, such as under the sink, or over the stove.

The ideal temperature to store tomatoes is between 55 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, or 12 to 21-degree Celsius.

Cut tomatoes can be wrapped in plastic wrap, or you can place the tomato on a plate with the cut side down.

Tomatoes cut in half and Bok Choy (Chinese cabbage) on a plate In the refrigerator

You can also place a paper towel on the plate and then place the cut tomato on it with the cut side down. Then lay another paper towel on top of the tomato to cover it. This will prevent the tomato from drying out and keep the bacteria away.

If an airtight container is available, you can put the half-cut tomato into it, cut side down, but it’s better to lay a paper towel at the bottom first. Keep the container in a cool place until you want to use the tomatoes.

Storing Tomatoes in a Refrigerator

Even though refrigerating a tomato can change its taste and texture, often it is the only way to make a halved tomato last longer. Wrap the cut tomato in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for up to four days

You can also use Tupperware to store the cut tomato before putting it in the refrigerator. Make sure to lay in a paper towel first to improve its life.

If you have chopped tomatoes, they must be stored in an airtight container and then refrigerated. Diced and chopped tomatoes must be refrigerated because they are more prone to foodborne illnesses such as salmonella.

The perfect temperature to store cut tomatoes is 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius).

You can also freeze chopped tomatoes. Freezing will prevent them from going bad for up to two months.

Simply place the chopped fruit in a ziplock freezer bag or cover them with a paper towel inside an airtight container.

Because freezing alters the taste and texture of the tomatoes, it is better to use the frozen tomatoes in soups or in pasta sauce after they thaw so that the changes are not a factor.

Frozen tomatoes will take some time to thaw so take them out at least one or two hours before using them.

frozen tomatoes and beans cut into pieces

When you are letting a tomato thaw, place it on a plate with the cut side down and cover it with plastic wrap or a paper towel.

How to Store Unripe Tomatoes?

If you have accidentally bought green tomatoes, or if you have plucked green tomatoes from your own farm you can ripen them up in your home.

There are several methods that you can use to turn these tomatoes red.

One way is to leave them in a well-ventilated area at room temperature and check them every few days, discarding any soft ones.

Make sure to place them in a location that is not too cold because the cooler the temperature is, the longer it will take them to ripen.

unripe tomatoes that ripen faster with a banana

Another way to ripen tomatoes is to store them with bananas. Bananas produce ethylene which speeds up the ripening process.

Wash the tomatoes properly and once they are completely dry, put them in a paper bag with a yellow banana and keep it at room temperature and out of direct sunlight. These tomatoes will ripen within one or two weeks.

If there is a large number of tomatoes that you want to ripen, then a cardboard box can be used instead of a paper bag.

Line the box with newspaper first and then place the tomatoes in it. Make sure to avoid high humidity as that will cause the tomatoes to decay.

Bottom Line

Tomatoes are an essential part of our food routine, making storage a necessity. There are many ways to make tomatoes, both cut and whole, last longer and prevent them from rotting.

No matter where you decide to keep your tomatoes, at room temperature or in the refrigerator, make sure to properly store them to avoid any contaminants and preserve their delicious taste!


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