Is this true?

barb_roselover_inAugust 3, 2014

I read in some magazine that it is better not to refrigerate ripe tomatoes. Something about it alters the taste. Is this true. I would then say that when you bring in tomatoes and if you keep them in your kitchen, don't they attract bugs and gnats and what do you do about this? I hate those things that seem to "ride" in on your garden veggies. Any useful comments on this? Thanks Barb

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I never refrigerate tomatoes. Those Styrofoam imposters we get in the wintertime aren't tomatoes anyway, and they'll last for weeks on the counter. My garden fresh tomatoes are eaten quickly enough that they don't go bad.

My grandmother told me to never refrigerate tomatoes, and then it was explained to me by a college professor that there is a compound in tomatoes that gives them their taste and aroma. That compound is inhibited by cold. So, if you MUST refrigerate a tomato, take it out of the fridge about an hour before using it, and hope that the warmer temperature can revive any residual compounds.

Mine don't seem to attract bugs or gnats but I don't keep them long, they are eaten, used for cooking or canned quickly, and then fresh ones are brought in.

I don't eat out of season tomatoes, only fresh local ones, as I've not found a commercial tomato that tastes good.


    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 9:38PM
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It's true - the texture changes to grainy or "mealy".

If you wash them and have them sitting in an open basket they don't attract bugs unless they are overripe ... so use them up before they reach that stage.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 9:43PM
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I have done a side-by-side blind taste test.

No one was able to tell the difference if the tomatoes had been refrigerated.


    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 10:05PM
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Perhaps there are different types of tomatoes that do lose their flavor in the fridge (not that I've met one, and I've met an awful lot of tomatoes), but I've never had one go mealy in the fridge, like if I use half fresh, and refrigerate the other half, and I have a really hard time believing that. I've never had them lose their flavor either, whether garden tomatoes or from the store, though if they're cut, I do put them into plastic bags, which does keep the flavor in.

Some tomatoes don't taste particularly great right out of the fridge, especially Romas, but they taste just fine after refrigerating when they get to room temperature, and are best when they're sun warm (set out by the window after the fridge). The beefsteaks we get taste about the same cold or room temp or cold then room temp. Other tomatoes, like Sunbursts taste kind of vapid at room temperature. Not bad but nothing of note. Chilled Sunbursts are one of the most delicious things on the planet. Dances have been done and odes have been sung...

I have had some heirloom tomatoes, the scrunchy shaped kind, that were too delicate to go in the fridge. When they're very ripe, if you don't eat them NOW they kind of wilt. They don't lose their flavor. They just collapse. From age and gravity, I think, though maybe from the fridge Maybe those are the kind that lose their texture? I've never had that any of that happen with plain old round red tomatoes, however.

We refrigerate all produce except bananas and unripe, or they go moldy. We never have the dire results that people warn about with the potatoes or tomatoes or anything. I wonder if the problems come from fridges that are too humid inside?

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 12:57AM
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I don't refrigerate as I do notice a difference in taste, but then I'm like the "princess and the pea" when taste and smell are involved. Try them both ways and see what you prefer.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 1:09AM
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I've noticed a difference as well. But heirlooms don't really keep well once cut, anyway.

Kumato variety - the big ones, not the cherry-sized - are the only commercial tomato widely available, with good flavor. Decent acid balance and sweetness, all year round. I definitely find it is not as good if refrigerated; the texture softens too much. This is a "club variety" developed in Spain, and the seeds are not sold to the general public - only to licensed growers who must follow rigid cultivation protocols. As a hybrid, seeds will not sprout true.

Through a similar growing club concept, Dulcinea has introduced the Rosso Bruno tomato, to compete. Dulcinea is a high-end grower; I buy their Tuscan melons which are superb. They pick their products at a higher brix level than big corporate growers.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 1:52AM
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"Those Styrofoam imposters we get in the wintertime..." LOL!! Oh, Annie I love your sense of humor!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 1:53PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I never put tomatoes in the fridge...deteriorates their texture and makes them bitter. They only attract bugs if they are rotting...

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 2:53PM
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For whatever it's worth.


Here is a link that might be useful: refrigerating tomatoes

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 3:54PM
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Very interesting, Dcarch!

I did some 'net research and found that most of the experts say that refrigerating ripe tomatoes for a few days won't adversely affect them. They say it's important to put tomatoes that aren't fully ripe on the counter (duh!). Scientists protest that the aromatics can't be damaged by cold but that they are damaged by heat. That they should bounce back from the cold. They do say that the sugars convert to starches in the fridge, causing mealiness, but that it takes days for that to happen.

Personal experience, some tomatoes, off season, can seem barely ripe, but the whole batch will be mealy from the first. I don't get a group of tomatoes from one source/time where some are good and then the last one is mealy as if it grew mealy in the fridge, so that must take longer. Those mealy off season tomatoes might have been kept in too cold storage though and got their mealiness there. I try to buy local and truly ripe and skip the off season except the ones from Mexico (where they're still in season, and don't come very far). :)

Since I live within spitting distance of where the tomatoes are grown for half the year, and won't buy unripe ones no matter where they come from, and I get ripe garden tomatoes when I can, that explains a lot of the disparity between what the others are saying and my own experience. I only buy a few tomatoes at a time (unless I'm making tomato sauce or soup), because they'll even go bad in the fridge, and they're best eaten fresh.

Sigh. Years ago, someone, I think maybe Pink, said I didn't get to participate in produce discussions because I come from California and we have different produce. I forgot.

The scientists also explained, maybe, the reason the Sunbursts are so much better cold. They say being cold suppresses the sweet flavor. So I'm guessing that lets the complexity and acidity shine. Or something like that.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 4:19PM
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The thing is, most vegetables, fruits can't be stored in the refrigerator for a long time, not just tomatoes. Avocado gets black, mangoes gets fibery.

I think my side-by-side blind taste test was 12 hours with ripe tomatoes. Definitely, no one was able to tell any difference.


    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 4:58PM
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Why would you put them in the fridge for 12 hours anyway? If you were going to eat them that quickly, then you wouldn't need to store them cold. I think the secret for fresh food is buy it fresh and eat it fresh. Perhaps it's a more European thing but we shop most days. I don't expect my toms to have to survive for long!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 2:32AM
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Get one of these baskets - no flies!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 6:01AM
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"----Why would you put them in the fridge for 12 hours anyway?----"

It happens almost everyday. My tomotoes from the garden are ripening fast. I have lots of cut up tomatoes that need to put away, and I have salads too big for one meal.

I will post some pictures of my tomatoes when I get a few minutes.


    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 8:30AM
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Maybe no flies, IC, but where I live there would be mold and rot!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 7:27PM
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I saw some of your toms on another thread and they are beautiful, Dcarch.
Food keeps well in our climate, so I suppose we're lucky. I don't like cold tomatoes - I like to feel the sun on them!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 3:08AM
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Thanks Islay.

The one I enjoy eating warm right from the vine is a French Variety, Carmello. My favorie.

Sweet, juicy and firm. A little bigger than a golf ball, just the right size for fresh eating in the garden.


    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 9:20AM
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