Posted on 12 September 2007 by

Tomatoes in the Refrigerator—A Bad Idea

Tomatoes in the Refrigerator–A Bad Idea

By Michelle Fabio

Perhaps you just want to get a few more days out of those tomatoes so you put them in the refrigerator for storage.


Take them out and set them on your counter (stacking them in bowls encourages bruising), stem side up and out of direct sunlight.

Now they’re happy


Refrigeration can cause what is called a “chilling injury” in a tomato because it just doesn’t do well in temperatures below 45°F (7°C).

At that point, several bad things can happen from loss of flavor, color, composition, and increased likelihood of decay or spoilage microorganisms.

Some say that already red, ripe tomatoes can be stored in the refrigerator without loss of flavor, so if you must have really cold tomatoes, use them as quickly as possibly as changes will kick in after just a day or so.

On the other hand, tomatoes that aren’t yet ripe should never be put in the refrigerator as you’re only stopping the ripening process.

There is one big exception to the no-refrigerator rule, though. If you’ve cut a tomato but aren’t going to use all of it (some people tell me this could happen), wrap the remainder in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator–but use it quickly because it’ll get mushy and flavorless in no time.

2 Responses to “Tomatoes in the Refrigerator—A Bad Idea”

  1. Dick Wessel Says:

    I like to make salsa and spaghetti sauce from roma tomatoes. This year the ripening is so slow I don’t get a big batch at a time. If a peel the tomatos, crush them and seal them in plastic bags – how long would that keep in a refrigerator until I get enough to do a full batch of salsa

  2. James Scott Says:

    Yes getting tomatoes ready for freezing when you have half a bach or are busy for 1 week is a challenge. Roma and Betterboy tomatoes ripen more evenly . the larger beefsteak tomatoes are more challenging with lots of uneven green areas present. I am refrigerating a half batch now and will try to warm them before blanching. i will let you know

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