You've Been Storing Tomatoes Wrong Your Entire Life

A perfectly ripe tomato is a beautiful thing, and there's nothing worse than reaching for a plump tomato that you picked up at your local farmer's market and finding that it's no longer firm, but instead, it's soft and mushy. Whether it's slicing a tomato to add to your burger toppings, or however else you make good use of your tomatoes, keeping them fresh is going to be key. 

How you store your tomatoes is going to make all the difference in not just how long they last, but how good they taste when you finally do eat them. Basically, you have two options when it comes to storing tomatoes — the fridge or the counter. As for which method is better, well, one has a clear advantage over the other. 

Keeping them cool is key

When tomatoes are in the field and still on the vine, they're getting more ripe by the day in the hot sun. If you keep ripe tomatoes in a bowl on your counter where the sun hits them, then they'll spoil quicker. You need to keep those ripe tomatoes cool, but not too cool. 

Tomato farmer Andrew Kesterson told Real Simple that a root or wine cellar is really an ideal place because it keeps the tomatoes out of "field heat" and in ideal temperature between 55°F and 70°F. If you don't have a root or wine cellar, you can aim for a shady cool spot in your kitchen that's not in the direct sun (if at all possible) when storing already ripe tomatoes. 

If your tomato is still pretty green, feel free to leave it on the counter for a few days — just be mindful of how much sun it's getting so that it doesn't ripen too quickly to the point that it becomes over-ripe (via Epicurious).

Should you ever refrigerate a tomato?

Some foods just aren't ideal for storing in the fridge. While it's generally not the best idea to keep your tomatoes in the refrigerator, it's also not the worst thing you can do either. As Real Simple points out, ripe tomatoes like cool temperatures — just not cold temperatures. Storing your ripe tomatoes in the fridge does slow the enzymes from breaking down the fruit, but it also has a way of dulling the taste. 

Serious Eats recommends that if you simply can't eat your ripe tomatoes right away and opt for the refrigerator, then try not to store them in the fridge for more than three days. After removing them you should also allow them to come to room temperature before serving. 

As for storing them in the freezer –well, only a monster would do such a thing.