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How Long Do Tomatoes Last? + Storage Tips

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Tomatoes in a wooden bowl on the bench.

Tomatoes, like most fruit and vegetables, don’t have a use by date attached. So how long do tomatoes last before they need to be tossed out? In my household we keep it simple: if the tomato shows any signs of mold it gets discarded. If it’s squishy then it’s not ideal for sandwiches, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used in a Bolognese sauce or a casserole.

The life of a tomato will vary depending on the stage of ripeness when you bought it from the store and how it is stored. Humidity and temperature will play a big part in how fast the tomato ripens. The following table provides some general guidelines of the shelf life of a tomato.

How long do fresh tomatoes keep?

Storage typeDuration
Counter5-7 days
Refrigerator2 weeks
Freezer2-3 months

Note: Freezer times relate to quality; tomatoes could actually remain frozen indefinitely and still be edible.

How long do canned tomatoes keep?

UnopenedOpened
12-18 months (in pantry)1 week (in fridge)

What if you’ve sliced or diced them?

If you’ve chopped up tomato and don’t use it on the night, store it in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. The tomato will be okay for cooking; however, it will lose its firm texture so it’s not ideal for using in sandwiches, burritos or tacos.


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Quick Tips

  • If you need to ripen a tomato fast, pop it in a brown paper bag, seal off the top by folding it over a few times, then leave on the counter for a day.
  • Place fresh, ripened tomatoes in a bag and refrigerate in the vegetable crisper to extend the tomatoes shelf life.
  • Allow tomatoes to fully ripen before storing in the fridge to maximize the fruit’s flavor and juice levels.
  • If fruit flies are invading your tomatoes, on the bench, leave a bowl of water with a teaspoon of vinegar next to them. Within a day you should be rid of this pest.

An infographic about how long fresh tomatoes lastHow to store tomatoes

It is tempting to get those tomatoes into the fridge as soon as you get home from the supermarket. But is that the best option? When tomatoes are stored below 55F there can be a loss of fragrance and taste as well as the texture becoming “mealy”.

  • If you intend eating your tomatoes within the next 2 days you’re best to leave them at room temperature to ensure maximum flavor.
  • To store tomatoes for over 2 days, place them in the fridge to reduce the speed of decay. Remember to remove your tomatoes from the fridge an hour before eating to get them back to room temperature; this will help rejuvenate the flavor.

Can tomatoes be frozen?

Tomatoes are perfectly fine to freeze, however they will lose some of their texture and flavor. Tomatoes that have been frozen are best cooked. In most cases, they can be tossed straight into a dish without defrosting.

A quick video on storage

Summary

Tomatoes have no use by sticker so it can be a little confusing working out how long tomatoes are good for. As with most fruit and vegetables, it’s best to simply perform a visual and feel test to decide if they need to be discarded. If there’s no visible mold, tomatoes are usually fine for cooking up in a variety of dishes: ratatouille, sauces, casseroles or even a simple tomato soup are all ideal.

Although a tomato will last two weeks in the fridge, I’d encourage you to use this as a guide only. I’ve had occasions where they’d spoiled in one week and some have lasted as long as three weeks.

If you live in a very hot, humid climate then tomatoes won’t last a week on the counter. They’re known to start going squishy in 2-3 days in these conditions.

Where do you prefer to store tomatoes? Counter top, fridge, or freezer? Let me know on Facebook or Instagram.