Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Tomatoes in the fridge


Fat Guy
 Share

Recommended Posts

Received culinary wisdom says never refrigerate a tomato. But with the weather in New York hitting nearly 100 degrees several days in a row, any produce left on the counter is doomed. For now, I'm refrigerating my tomatoes.

Incidentally, I had a couple tonight and didn't think they were affected by the chill.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That nice green smell is lost in the fridge but I doubt you're keeping them in there for very long. I would just let them come up to room temp before eating if you're eating raw. That's too bad, poor little guys and right when the season is picking up :sad:

Sleep, bike, cook, feed, repeat...

Chef Facebook HQ Menlo Park, CA

My eGullet Foodblog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We've been hitting 45 C (~110 F) pretty regularly since mid-April and my tomatoes sit on top of the fridge for a week plus with no signs of spoilage. My kitchen is probably several C above the outside temp at any given moment, too.

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it's more about a change of texture than a change of flavor (provided you're starting with a perfectly ripe tomato). The breakdown of cells probably starts happening after a couple of days and then the flesh turns mealy. Refrigerating a day or two is probably doing no harm. As for flavor, I can't imagine an ice cold tomato tasting better than one just brought in warm from the vine.

Of course, if the tomato is not fully ripe, it is not going to get any riper in the fridge...I think that's a well proven fact, even by people with science degrees.

In this heat we're experiencing right now, if the tomato I bring home from the farmer's market is in excellent condition, it will still last a few days on the counter. It's once they get bumped and bruised that bad things start happening - pretty much the same with all fruits. But you gotta remember, these things grow in the heat and they can probably deal with 110 degree days (on the vine) better than most of us would.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Can I assume most of you folks talking about tomatoes rotting on your kitchen counters do not have air-conditioning?

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Never, ever, never ever!!!!

NO.

Have I made myself clear? :raz::laugh:

It won't hurt your 'maters to sit on the counter one bit. But, for the love of God, do not put them in that cold, dark place that sucks the taste out of them.

Edited by Shelby (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had done a side-by-side test with serveral tasters.

Tomatoes refrigerated 30 hours vs. same tomatoes not refrigerated (75F). The tomatoes were cut in halves. Half went in the refrigerator.

No one could tell the difference.

I only used one kind of home-grown tomatoes, so it might not be a conclusive scientific test.

dcarch

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I keep tomatoes in a wire basket so the air can circulate freely around them.

Of course most supermarket tomatoes have already been stored in refrigeration so not much more can be done to them but if you spend money on heirloom tomatoes there is definitely a loss in flavor if they are stored in the fridge for more than a few hours.

I have tried side-by-side tasting of cherry tomatoes, picked from my garden, some refrigerated to chill them prior to adding to a molded salad and the remainder left in their basket on the counter.

The chilled ones had less flavor and were not as sweet and to me the difference was significant.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If I recall correctly, there's a chemical in the tomato tied to its flavor. Once refrigerated, this chemical "shuts off" and it won't ever taste as good as a tomato held at room temperature. I believe it's also tied to the ripening process since a tomato that has yet to turn red won't if it's refrigerated. (Any SSB's out there with the real info on this?)

I'm sure you've heard folk tales of people who have wrapped their tomatoes in newspaper and stored them in a flat box under their beds. :blink: Anytwhere but in the refrigerator.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Its true that once a tomato is refrigerated, it stops ripening but a ripe tomato will last longer in the refrigerator than one left out after it has reached its peak and I can't tell any difference between a perfectly ripe cold tomato and a perfectly ripe room temp. tomato except that one is cold.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have picked green tomatoes before a frost and wrapped them in newspaper and kept them in a cool place and they (most of of them) continue to ripen through Early December. It must make a difference just how cool or cold they get.

HC

Link to comment
Share on other sites

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/19/AR2005071900347.html

Unripened tomatoes continue to ripen off the vine if not held at temperatures below 50 degrees. Fully ripened tomatoes don't suffer from chilling injury as much and it does no harm to them unless held for more than a few days, then the texture can turn mealy. In the meantime, it is perfectly OK to refrigerate tomatoes to slow the over ripening process.

Also cut tomatoes should be refrigerated. They stop maturing too and keep longer as well. Green tomatoes picked to prevent frost damage will continue to ripen slowly at cool, not cold temperatures. They should be kept out of sunlight but warmer storage speeds the ripening.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Again, other than the experiment I did as stated above, I don't have enough heirloom tomatoes yet from my garden to conduct more tests.

I am not sure if there are chemicals in the tomato that are more active in a colder environment, causing the taste to deteriorate more rapidly.

I think possibly if you eat a tomato right out from the refrigerator, the taste buds are less sensitive due to the cold, therefore the refrigerated tomato may be less tasty.

Also, it is possible that tomatoes can ripe significantly in one or two days.(Sungold cherries can ripe in a few hours) If you have tomatoes that are not totally ripe and you keep them in a refrigerator, they will be less tasty than the ones kept at room temperature.

dcarch

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

Michael Pollan in today's New York Times Magazine:

Are There Any Foods You Won't Eat?

Feedlot meat. And tomatoes that have been in the refrigerator.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That is a good point too. When I have an overgrowth of tomatoes durring the season and can't keep up with them (eating, canning, giving away) I will totally throw them in the fridge to keep from spoiling.

But I am in the "never in the fridge if you can help it" camp.

Sleep, bike, cook, feed, repeat...

Chef Facebook HQ Menlo Park, CA

My eGullet Foodblog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wonder if there is a middle ground... the equivalent of an old-school British larder. Old European (pre-central heating) "room temperature" - also perfect for butter, eggs and wine.

Would keep them from going off for longer without creating the mealiness.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That only works if the tomatoes are the only veggie in the larder. The minute you also store avocadoes (another NEVER IN THE FRIDGE thing), apples, bananas, or really any other fruit or veggie besides carrots, beets, or potatoes, in there with them, you'll see spoilage in the tomatoes. I know this from experience, unfortunately.

This said, I live in a tropical country and my kitchen routinely tops out about 45 C on sunny days even if I avoid cooking in it. My tomatoes live in a nice wire basket on the countertop in the shadiest location possible - I grow quite a few heirlooms and I'd never even consider fridging them. I only put tomatoes in the fridge if I'm using them for a long-cooked sauce or some similar thing, where the texture isn't so important. And those are normally market-bought tomatoes, which are indifferent to begin with.

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You can put green garden tomatoes in a cool dark place and they will ripen slowly as long as they don't get chilled. Once they are perfectly ripe, you must eat them or process them. If you can't do either, storing them in the refrigerator for three or four days is not... not... going to hurt them. They won't go mealy and if you bring them back to room temperature they will taste as good. Certainly much better tasting that if you had left them out to rot. Unripened or gassed tomatoes turn mealy in the refrigerator but not home grown fully ripe ones. Refrigerating them prematurely makes the ripening process stop. The texture and taste are ruined. It won't pick up when warmed up again but ripe tomatoes keep a little longer in the refrigerator than out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...