How To Store Pre-Sliced Tomatoes In Your Fridge

Experienced home cooks know the right way to store whole tomatoes: Keep them on the kitchen counter until they're fully ripe, then transfer them to the fridge to stall overripening and decay. However, if you want to slice tomatoes in advance to throw together a caprese salad right before a party, how do you store them correctly?

Sliced tomatoes obviously won't ripen any further, so only cut up ripe tomatoes, then immediately put them in the fridge. You'll also need to provide a tomato's open flesh with a protective barrier. If you're storing a halved tomato, you can simply place it cut-side down on a paper towel or a small plate, then put the whole thing in an airtight container. Make sure to use it within two days.If you're storing rounds of sliced tomatoes, securely wrap the slices with a plastic bag or plastic wrap. In a pinch, an airtight container will work, but you really want to minimize air exposure, so use the smallest vessel you can.

Even when stored properly, pre-sliced tomatoes can go funky in a few days. Without the protection of their skin, they lose their bright taste and can even appear to scab over, with a dry texture on the surface. Slice tomatoes in advance if you must, but for optimal freshness, it's better to leave them whole until you're ready to use them.

Additional tips for refrigerating tomatoes

Storing ripe tomatoes in the fridge is a good way to extend their shelf life, but there are a few other things to keep in mind for the best results. Tomatoes are prone to losing moisture and turning dry, so you might want to take precautions like storing them stem-side down. The stem area is where most of the fruit's water content escapes. If you see any leaking or oozing, this could signal that the tomato is beginning to spoil, so either use the tomato quickly or toss it.

Before eating refrigerated tomatoes, you should first let them sit on the counter to adjust to room temperature. You might not have known that tomatoes taste best at room temperature, as the cold can mask their delicate texture and aromatics. Giving them time to warm up can mitigate these effects a bit, though it won't restore their fresh-from-the-garden, sun-warmed taste.

Lastly, you should consider where you bought your tomatoes before you store them. If you purchased them from a farmer's market or harvested them from your own garden, they're likely already ripened and are ready to go in the fridge. Conversely, tomatoes from the grocery store may not be fully ripe, and could benefit from sitting on the kitchen counter for a few days.