Tomatoes are juicy, easy-to-grow vegetables that are widely popular around the world for their variety of usage. From pizza to pasta, and even breakfast sandwiches, tomatoes bring the flavor and their perfect balance of tender and crisp.
If you’re growing tomatoes this year, you’re in for a heap of fun. But, when you get to reap what you’ve sown, you’ll need to know how to properly store tomatoes to keep them going and not to let them go to waste.
Keep reading to learn all about how to properly store tomatoes and which method can store them for the longest amount of time!
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How To Properly Store Tomatoes
The way you will store tomatoes will depend on how ripe they are. For instance, tomatoes do well in the fridge, and it helps them keep firm and almost crispy. But drying them is also a great way to be able to store tomatoes for a prolonged period.
Tomatoes ripen and decompose very quickly in heat and light. But, moisture and darkness will sprout mold, so you will need to find the balance between the two to properly store tomatoes
Storing Tomatoes on The Counter
Storing tomatoes on the counter is usually sufficient. But, if you want to keep them for longer, then you’ll have to stick them in the fridge to get a longer shelf life, as the colder temperatures will cease any spoiling or overripening.
As you may know, you can pick very underripe tomatoes, and within a few days on your countertop, it will be at perfect ripeness to cook or eat. They do best in the shade and a cooler area on the kitchen counter.
Storing Tomatoes in the Fridge
If they are fully ripe, you can store tomatoes in the fridge to slow down and even stop them from going further. When they’re stored at around 55 degrees Fahrenheit, they almost go into limbo, so they keep fresh for a long time. You can even put in over-ripe tomatoes to firm them back up.
You can store tomatoes in your fridge for up to a week. The only downside to storing tomatoes in the fridge is that they will lose some of their flavors because of the cold temperature. However, their structure becomes a lot crisper, making the best tomatoes for toasted western sandwiches!
Drying Tomatoes To Preserve Them
If you’ve never had a pizza with sun-dried tomatoes on it, you’re missing out. Dried tomatoes are crisp, savory, and make for a delicious topping, appetizer, or just a snack. And they will last up to a year when stored in a Ziploc baggy or Rubbermaid storage container.
Here are the steps to drying tomatoes:
- Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s best to use the oven, as opposed to the sun, unless you live in a dry and very sunny climate with no breaks or clouds for a few days straight.
- Next, wash and cut your tomatoes
- Put them in the oven and back for up to 4 hours
- Check for dryness. They should be crispy like potato chips.
- When perfectly dry, let cool and store in a Ziploc bag.
Storing Tomatoes By Canning Them
The last method on the list is to can your tomatoes. You can make a sauce and can it or do it with plain diced tomatoes. Here’s how you can store tomatoes using the canning method.
- First, prepare the tomatoes by slicing off the top and boiling them in water for a minute.
- Let cool. When cool enough to touch, but still warm, peel off the skin of the tomatoes
- Sterilize your canning jars to ensure there’s no bacterial interference.
- Place 2 tsp of lemon juice into all of your jars.
- Place the hot tomatoes (with juice) in jars and seal.
- Submerge all canning jars in warm water and let sit for an hour and a half.
- Then, place it in your fridge or cupboard for up to a year.
How Long Can Tomatoes Be Stored?
Depending on the ripeness of your tomatoes, you can keep them for up to a week on your counter without a problem. To keep them for longer, stick the unripe tomatoes in the fridge and bring them out and leave it when it’s ready to be eaten.
When you store tomatoes in a fridge, they will keep them for a couple of weeks before going past their own due date. Remember that because of the temperature, they will stay firm, but will also look a fair bit of flavor.
The method of storing tomatoes that brings the longest shelf life is the drying process. If you live in a dry and sunny climate like Arizona, you can sun-dry tomatoes without any rain to mess the process up, or you can use your oven or dehydrator.
How To Tell If Tomatoes Have Gone Bad
There are many tell-tale signs that your tomatoes have gone bad. If they’ve been left on the counter, they may start to have blemishes or split. In the fridge, it will be harder to tell, since the ripening process is often stalled by the refrigeration.
For each of the preservation methods, the spoiling will look the same. Here are all of the signs to look out for in rotten or over-ripe tomatoes:
- Splitting skin
- Dark brown blemishes or darker spots.
- Tomato is soggy and mushy.
- Sprouting moldy spots.
When you see any of these signs, ditch the rotten tomatoes immediately. Once they start, the decomposition process is quick and can spoil the rest of your batch as well.
Mistakes To Avoid When Storing Tomatoes
Tomatoes aren’t hard to keep by any means, all it takes is the right methods and sticking by each method’s procedure. Here’s what you should avoid when storing tomatoes, in order to keep them fresher for longer!
- Washing them before storing
- Cutting them or preparing and then storing.
- Storing your heirloom tomatoes with the stem facing up
- Waiting too long
- Not putting them in the fridge if you’re not using them right away.
As long as you watch out for the signs and avoid these mistakes, your tomatoes are safe from going bad. When you grow your own tomatoes, you’ll definitely need to follow these steps to ensure that your hard work isn’t wasted, and neither are the tomatoes.