How Long do Tomatoes Last in the Fridge or on the Counter?
Tomatoes can add a surprising amount of flavor to just about any meal out there.
From being a delicious addition to burgers or being a way to flavor up some chili, there’s a use for a tomato in many different dinner meals.
Because of this, it would make sense that you have a few different tomatoes hanging out in your fridge.
However, you will want to be wary about having too many tomatoes around, as nobody wants to deal with rotten tomatoes.
To make sure that you do not have an overload of tomatoes in your fridge, you will want to get a good idea of how long tomatoes can last.
Thankfully, as with many vegetables, it is fairly easy to get an understanding of how long tomatoes last.
Tomatoes share many similarities with other vegetables in the sense that they do not last very long at all outside of the fridge and that when tomatoes do begin to decay, the decaying process is generally pretty obvious.
This will make it all the more easier for you to identify when a tomato is going past it best-by date. With that being said, now you should begin to look into just how long a good-quality tomato can last.
How Long Do Tomatoes Last?
When all is said and done, even though there are several different tomato breeds out there, they all have just about the same shelf life. With fresh tomatoes, you can expect them to last about a week if they are just sitting there on your counter.
If you want to get the most out of your tomatoes, you can keep them stored in the fridge to make them last closer to two weeks. Aside from this, you probably shouldn’t try to eat a tomato that is more than two weeks old unless you want to risk health problems.
With canned tomatoes, things are a little bit different. Unopened, canned tomatoes can last from 12 to 18 months just sitting on the counter. This is perfect if you know that you want to use tomatoes for sauces, but do not know how much you will need or use at once.
However, once you open up the canned tomatoes, you should make sure that you use all of the tomatoes as quickly as you can, as you will only have about seven days to use them when the can has been opened.
After all, tomatoes spoil fast, and when they are pressed and canned, the amount of time that they last decreases significantly.
The general rule of thumb should be that if you want to make the most out of your fresh tomatoes, you should keep them in the fridge so that they last the full two weeks of their lifespan.
With canned tomatoes, you can expect them to last well into the first year of owning them, but once you open up the can, you have about one week to use it all up before you should consider tossing it out.
Knowing When the Tomatoes Are not Fit for Consumption
As with many vegetables, it will quickly become obvious when the tomatoes pass their dates:
- The very first signs are going to be a softening of the skin. This might be hard to detect at first, as tomatoes are relatively soft vegetables, but it should be obviously different from when you first bought the tomatoes.
- Another telltale sign that your tomatoes are going bad is when they begin to leak liquid. This is a sign that you should probably think about ways to cook the tomato, unless you would rather throw it out.
- Afterwards, the tomato will begin to grow mold. At this point, you should toss the tomato out, as it has gone completely bad.
- Another good way to tell whether your tomatoes are having troubles is if you notice fruit flies. As the name suggests, fruit flies are attracted to fruits, and tomatoes technically also classify as fruits.
Fruit flies are itty bitty little flies that love to hang out around fruit, and if you let them, they can end up finding their way into the fruit. Nobody wants to eat a tomato that has flies both on it and inside of it.
If you notice that there are fruit flies setting their sights on your tomatoes, consider placing a bowl of water with some vinegar next to the fruit basket, or wherever you are keeping the tomatoes. Come the next day, and you will have a bowl of water with dead fruit flies in it. Another way to prevent this is to move the tomatoes into the fridge.
These are going to be the general signs that your tomatoes are going bad. Of course, there will be some more obvious signs out there.
- If the tomato is shriveling up, has discolouration around a cut in the skin, or is changing in ways that are extremely noticeable, it might be your safest bet to toss the tomato into the compost.
How to Extend the Shelf Life of Your Tomatoes
Nobody really enjoys going to the store more often than they have to, simply because their tomatoes went bad. Thankfully, there are a few ways that you can extend the shelf life of your tomatoes, even if it is just by a little bit.
The biggest problem with tomatoes is that they are squishy, and their interiors are generally moist. These are ideal conditions for flies, mold, and a host of bacteria when left out for too long.
This means that there really isn’t a way to make your tomatoes last for months, unless you want to risk losing the flavor of the tomatoes through freezing them. With that being said, these methods should give your tomatoes just a little bit more time before they go bad.
While many people tend to leave their tomatoes in a fruit basket, if you want to extend the life of the tomato, you are better off storing it in the fridge.
You should make sure that you are storing the tomato in the fridge drawer marked “produce” as well, as these containers are generally meant for items such as tomatoes. This will give your tomatoes a little bit more time, but do keep in mind that tomatoes wither quickly, so you should still keep an eye for any signs of decay or age in the tomato.
As always, if you open the drawer to see that the tomato is growing mold, just cut your losses and toss the entire tomato.
Storing tomatoes in the freezer isn’t always the best idea, as tomatoes tend to have liquid in them. You can blanch them, but this is at the risk of losing flavor, so do consider your options before freezing your tomatoes.
Blanching is the process of quickly cooking the tomatoes before freezing them to preserve as much taste as possible. Usually, freezing tomatoes is a much more complicated process than just putting them in the fridge and keeping an eye on them.
You should also give some thought to the type of tomato. While none of the various breeds of tomato differ too much in lifespan, it has been noted that plum tomatoes tend to last longer in general. This is thought to be because they have a firmer “meat” to them, which prevents mold from wanting to take root in the tomato and rotting it from the inside out. If you are shopping for tomatoes based on how long they will last, plum tomatoes are a safe bet to make.