How to Store Tomatoes (A Step-by-Step Guide)

ripe and unripe tomatoes in wooden sticks.

When you grow your own tomatoes, the first thing you’ll notice is how abundant they are, even if you feel like you didn’t plant that many of them.

Because of this, you might want to know about how to freeze tomatoes, the best way to store tomatoes, and even how to store tomatoes long term. Some people even want to learn how to preserve tomatoes so they can eat them for a very long time. This post will provide the answers to these and other questions regarding storage of tomatoes.

Related: How Long Do Tomatoes Last? (In The Fridge)

Should Tomatoes Be Refrigerated?

Keeping tomatoes in a fridge is a logical thing to consider doing when you have too many tomatoes on your hands, but is this really such a good idea? As a matter of fact, the answer to that question is “yes.”

If your tomatoes are already ripe, you can go ahead and keep them on your countertop if you know you’re going to eat them in the next day or two. Remember, it isn’t necessary to store tomatoes in the fridge, but it does make them last longer.

When you put tomatoes in cold storage like the refrigerator, it slows down the decaying process so that they last much longer.

When you store tomatoes in cold storage, you should also keep in mind that store-bought tomatoes will last a little longer than fresh-grown tomatoes or tomatoes purchased at a farmer’s market, simply because the latter are usually grown without chemicals or pesticides.

How long can you keep fresh tomatoes in the fridge? As a general rule, ripe tomatoes usually last one to two weeks when placed in the refrigerator, and three to seven days when kept on your countertop.

Storing tomatoes in the fridge is really simple:

  • Wash the ripe tomatoes.
  • Dry the tomatoes with a kitchen cloth.
  • Keep the tomatoes in the crisp drawer of the fridge.
  • Use the tomatoes within three days, but keep checking to make sure they are not growing mold.

It is not advisable to put unripened tomatoes in the refrigerator. Unripened tomatoes need to stay at room temperature, not touching one another, and out of direct sunlight until they are ripe.

Green tomato developing into red tomato
Maturing process of a tomato.

How to Store Tomatoes without a Fridge

You can store ripe tomatoes outside a fridge if you are going to cook them in a few days’ time.

  • Simply put the ripe tomatoes in a cardboard box in a single layer to avoid them pressing on each other thereby speeding the rotting process.
  • The tomatoes should be stored with the stems facing up.
  • Keep the cardboard box in a cool and dry area such as a cellar or a pantry.

Secondly, unripe tomatoes should also be stored outside a fridge:

  • Keep the unripe tomatoes in a paper bag or in a cardboard box in a single layer
  • The unripe tomatoes should be stored with the stems facing down.
  • Keep checking if the tomatoes are ripening and use them up once well ripened or store them appropriately.

How to Store Sliced or Cut Tomatoes

Once you start to cut up a tomato and decide to slice, dice, cut, or mince it, the rules for storing tomatoes change a little bit. Here are some general rules for storing sliced/cut tomatoes:

  • If you don’t plan to eat a ripe tomato within a day or two, put it in the refrigerator.
  • If your tomato is cut or chopped, it has to be in an airtight container and placed in the refrigerator.
  • If you want your halved or chopped tomatoes to last longer than three to four days, cover the exposed side of the tomato, place it in an airtight container or bag, then place it in the freezer.
Cut tomato
Cut red tomato.

Freezing Tomatoes

There are various methods of freezing ripe tomatoes:

Method 1:

  • Clean the tomatoes and wipe them dry.
  • Remove the core of the tomato with a sharp knife.
  • Cut an X mark on the top side of the tomatoes.
  • Put the tomatoes in a freezer bag, remove the air from the bag and seal it.
  • Keep in the freezer. Once frozen, the tomatoes will turn hard as a rock.
  • When ready to use, just remove the tomatoes you need from the freezer bag and defrost in a microwave for 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Peel off the tomato skin from the X-marked part. The skin will come off smoothly and cook as desired.

Method 2:

  • Clean the tomatoes and wipe them dry.
  • Core the tomatoes and cut into desired sizes.
  • Put the tomatoes on a flat sheet or plate and cover with a plastic wrap.
  • Freeze the tomatoes for four to six hours until well frozen.
  • Transfer the frozen tomato pieces into a freezer, remove the air and seal it. Label the freezer bags with the date.
  • Keep the bag of tomatoes in the freezer and use when required.
  • Use the tomatoes within 60 days.

Method 3:

  • Clean the tomatoes and wipe them dry.
  • Blanch the tomatoes by dipping them in boiling water for a few minutes until partly cooked.
  • Remove the blanched tomatoes from the heat and grind them in a blender or food processor.
  • Transfer the blended tomatoes into an ice tray and freeze them into cubes.
  • Once frozen, transfer the cubes into a freezer bag, remove air from the bag and seal it.
  • Use the cubes as and when required.
Red tomato sauce in a white bowl.
Red tomato sauce in a white bowl.

These are a few ways of storing tomatoes in the freezer, and the most important thing is to use airtight freezer bags and always date-label the bags so that they don’t overstay in your freezer.

Important Points to Remember about Storing Tomatoes

Learning how to store tomatoes after cutting them is simple once you remember that once a tomato is cut into, it has to be placed in some type of tomato storage container such as an airtight bag or a container with an airtight lid.

But regardless of what type of tomato we’re talking about – ripe, unripe, whole, cut, and so on – just keep in mind that for the most part, tomatoes should only be kept on the countertop when unripe and either the refrigerator or the freezer once they ripen.

It’s also good to remember that when you take the tomato out of your refrigerator to eat it, you should always let it warm back up to room temperature before you eat it. This usually takes up to 24 hours to accomplish, so this is something else to keep in mind when you love tomatoes and have a ton of them to keep in your home.

Storing tomatoes for winter or for summer follows much the same rules. The rules are also the same regardless of the type of tomatoes you’re interested in storing, although some tomatoes – such as Roma tomatoes – do a little bit better when you’re planning on freezing them to eat them at a later date.

Final Thoughts on How to Store Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a super-healthy food and a very simple fruit to grow, so knowing how to store and keep them properly is a must. Fortunately, storing them is easier to do than many people think.

Articles related to “How to Store Tomatoes”

How to Store Potatoes (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Store Onions (A Step-by-Step Guide)

Recent Content