This Might Be The Best Way To Store Leftover Canned Tomatoes

The "Best if Used By/Before" date listed on grocery store products doesn't mean that food immediately spoils and can't be safely eaten after that time window has passed, according to the USDA. This also applies to "Use-By" or "Sell-By" dates listed on packaging, which do not indicate safety dates, except when pertaining to baby formula.

When items that can still be consumed at no risk to your health are discarded in the trash it contributes to food waste, which is a serious problem in the United States. Nearly 40% of all food in the U.S. is wasted — amounting to a whopping 108 billion pounds annually — according to Feeding America.

With proper storage, it's possible to make a food product last well beyond the expiration date and still enjoy it at near peak freshness and quality, especially when it comes to canned items. Unopened store-bought canned tomatoes can last for a year or more beyond the "Best if Used By" date if they are undamaged and stored in a cool, dark place, according to The Spruce Eats. But what's the best way to store tomatoes if you did open the can?

Refrigerate or freeze leftovers in airtight containers

You can't always use the entire contents of the can for one meal, or when added as an ingredient to a dish or sauce. If you have leftovers after opening canned tomatoes, you should follow specific steps to ensure that they are stored properly and can remain fresh for as long as possible. 

The Spruce Eats recommends transferring your canned tomato leftovers to an airtight container and refrigerating or freezing them. Fridge storage should allow them to keep for up to five to seven days, according to the USDA. To retain optimal flavor and freshness, seal the tomatoes in a glass or plastic container, rather than keeping them in the original metal tin (via StillTasty).

Another option is to freeze the tomatoes, which generally buys you another three months to enjoy them at peak quality. However, they are still safe to eat even well beyond the three-month time frame, StillTasty adds. Using either covered airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags will yield the best storage results in the icebox.