How to Store Tomatoes

Drawer of Tomatoes

Don’t do this!

As some of you noticed, I made a major food scientist faux-pas a few weeks ago: I stored some tomatoes in the refrigerator. What was I thinking?

Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know that storing the tomatoes in the fridge is generally a no-no: lots of people don’t!

Like basil, tomatoes come from a warm climate, and therefore don’t tolerate cold well.  When you refrigerate tomatoes, the cold damages them and makes them soft and mealy and less flavorful. This is especially true if the tomatoes aren’t perfectly ripe when you stick them in the refrigerator.

Instead, store the tomatoes at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. If your house is particularly warm, you may want to put them in the coolest room of your house, even if that isn’t the kitchen.

The one exception to this “rule” is overripe tomatoes, the ones that are a little squishier than they should be.  If your tomatoes are overripe, you can put them in the refrigerator for up to 3 days to keep them from getting any softer.  Let them to come back to room temperature for a full day before eating to bring some of the flavor back.


  1. Katharine says

    Leaving them in the bag will cause ripe tomatoes to start rotting a lot quicker than open-air storage. Ripening fruits and vegetables give off ethylene gas, which causes over-ripening if they are trapped in an airtight or nonvented space.