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How Long Do Tomatoes Last?

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Tomatoes really are one of the most amazing fresh ingredients you could use! They add so much flavor and depth to many different dishes, and not to mention they can be delicious to eat just on their own.

Whether you have tomatoes at home waiting to be chopped up and added to a salad or used to make a warming chili, it helps to know how long you can keep the tomatoes for before they start to spoil.

How long do tomatoes last? How long tomatoes last depends largely on when they were picked, how they are stored, and where they are stored. Stored properly in the fridge, tomatoes can last up to 2 weeks. Left on the counter, fresh tomatoes can still be used in 1 week.

The storage and preparation of tomatoes determine how long they might last, so it helps to know all the different scenarios!

How Long Do Tomatoes Last In The Fridge?

The best way to store tomatoes is to keep them in the refrigerator. Fresh tomatoes can have a fairly long lifespan when kept in the fridge, compared to what they might have if left out on the counter.

Stored properly in the fridge, tomatoes can last for up to 2 weeks. This is true for fresh tomatoes and not tomatoes that have started to go off already.

When storing tomatoes in the fridge, you should leave them loose in the vegetable drawer, or place them in a vegetable saver bag for extra protection.

The one thing to consider is how ripe your tomatoes are. Unripe or green tomatoes are better left on the counter for 1-2 days to ripen before being placed in the fridge.

If you place unripe tomatoes in the fridge, they may never ripen fully and could be hard and quite tasteless when it comes time to eat them.

Storing fresh tomatoes in the fridge is the best way to preserve their freshness and ensure they stay good for long. The fridge definitely extends the life of a tomato longer than storing it on the counter would.

How Long Do Tomatoes Last On The Counter?

Tomatoes can be kept on the counter for some time, but their lifespan, when kept on the counter, is shorter than what their lifespan would be if kept in the fridge.

Stored properly, tomatoes can be kept on the counter for up to 7 days. After this, there is a good chance that they may begin to spoil.

To store tomatoes on the counter, remove them from their plastic packaging or blister packs. Place them on the counter away from sunlight or direct heat.

Keep them in a single layer where possible and try to ensure they are not touching each other. This helps to prevent bruises and skin breakage.

While tomatoes can last for up to 7 days on the counter, this time might be reduced if you live in a humid area, or if there are constant temperature changes.

For unripe tomatoes, you can store them on the counter, but you should place them in a fruit basket or bowl that allows for airflow, as this will help them ripen at the right pace.

Just like for ripe tomatoes, keep these out of direct sunlight and away from any heat sources to ensure they last longer.

How Long Do Cut Up Tomatoes Last?

Cut-up tomatoes can be stored successfully and made to last a little longer. The best way to store cut-up tomatoes would be to store them in the fridge.

They should be placed into an airtight container and kept in the center of the fridge, where the temperature sits around 55°F.

Cut-up tomatoes will not last as long as whole tomatoes, and you should consume them within 3 days of being refrigerated.

However, this gives you a good opportunity to use cut-up tomatoes that you may have chopped up for a salad or topping for a burger and have leftovers.

You should not leave cut-up tomatoes out on the counter, as they will not last long at all.

How Long Do Whole Tomatoes Last?

Whole tomatoes last much longer than cut-up tomatoes, and it is recommended to keep your tomatoes whole until you are ready to use them. Yes, you can store cut-up tomatoes, but for much less time than whole.

Kept in the fridge, whole tomatoes can keep fresh for up to 2 weeks if they were in good condition before being frozen. Kept on the counter, whole tomatoes can last for up to 1 week.

Be sure not to squash whole tomatoes together when storing them, or drop them, as this will cause bruises or breaks in the skin, which could lead to the tomato spoiling faster.

How Long Do Fresh Tomatoes From The Garden Last?

Fresh tomatoes from the garden which have been picked fully ripe can be kept in the fridge for up to between 5-7 days.

If you pick the tomatoes before they are ripe, you can place them in the fridge, but this might hinder the ripening process and they may never soften.

Unripe tomatoes can be left out at room temperature and should ripen within 1-5 days. Once ripened, they can then be placed in the fridge.

How Long Do Grocery Store Tomatoes Last?

Grocery store tomatoes are mostly sold ripe, so when you bring them home from the store, they should be fine to keep in the vegetable drawer of the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

You should always try to keep grocery store-bought tomatoes in the fridge if you do not plan on using them in the next few days.

When grocery store-bought tomatoes are left out on the counter, they can keep for up to a week. This will depend on the ripeness of the tomato and how well it is stored.

How Long Do Canned Tomatoes Last?

Canned tomatoes have a wonderfully long lifespan, especially when kept in a dark, cool pantry, away from sunlight and heat.

As tomatoes are a high acid food, canned tomatoes will last for up to 18 months if the can is left sealed.

The tomatoes would probably last longer than this, but the quality will decline after this time, and the taste and texture of the tomatoes will not be the same.

Avoid using canned tomatoes which have dents or leaks in the can, as this might lead to a bacteria called botulinum entering the contents of the can and spoiling the canned tomatoes.

If you have opened the can of tomatoes but have not used all of the contents, you can store the canned tomatoes in the fridge for up to 5 days.

It is best to take the tomatoes out of the can and place them in an airtight container and store it in the fridge. 

Use the opened canned tomatoes within a week for the best quality, and to ensure you use them before the tomatoes spoil.

Do Different Varieties Of Tomatoes Have Varying Lifespans?

Different varieties of tomatoes do have varying lifespans, so it is worth knowing what type of tomatoes you have to know long you can keep them for.

Regular-sized tomatoes are fine to be kept in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, and on the counter for up to 1 week. However, cherry tomatoes and smaller tomatoes have a shorter lifespan than this.

These smaller tomatoes can be kept in the fridge for up to 10 days and can be kept on the counter for up to 5 days.

Most tomatoes sold at groceries stores will come with a best-by date on the packaging, and it is worth noting this date before purchasing the tomatoes, to ensure you will use them before they spoil.

Can You Freeze Tomatoes?

Tomatoes can be frozen, and freezing tomatoes is a good way to keep them from spoiling if you are not going to use them before they expire.

Here is how to freeze tomatoes:

  1. Wash the tomatoes under running water and pat them dry once they are clean.
  2. You can either leave the skin on the tomatoes, or you can remove the skin by placing the tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds, and then peeling the skin off.
  3. You can also either leave the tomatoes whole or cut them into pieces before freezing, depending on how you might want to use them later on.
  4. Place the tomatoes or the cut-up pieces of tomato onto a baking sheet and place this into the freezer.
  5. Once the tomatoes have frozen on the baking sheet, you can remove them from the freezer and place them into freezer bags or plastic freezer containers. If using freezer bags, squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing.
  6. Label the freezer bags or containers with the date of freezing.

You can either portion the tomatoes into smaller bags or place them into a larger container.

Freezing them on a baking tray first means they won’t stick together when frozen, so you can grab as many as you want from the frozen stash without having to defrost the whole lot.

Stored properly, tomatoes can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Note that the tomatoes will become soft and mushy during freezing, so it is best to use frozen tomatoes in cooked recipes, rather than eating them fresh out of the freezer.

How Do You Make Tomatoes Last Longer?

Other than freezing your tomatoes, the best way to make tomatoes last longer, especially those that are ripe or overripe, is to keep them in the refrigerator.

The cold air in the refrigerator prevents the tomatoes from ripening quickly and reduces the chance of mold growth.

Do not put tomatoes in the coldest area of the fridge, and rather keep them loose in the vegetable tray or in a food saver bag.

If the tomatoes are stored at below 55°F, the enzyme activity would be slowed too much, and the tomatoes may never develop good flavor, color, or texture.

How To Tell If Tomatoes Have Spoiled

If you have had tomatoes sitting on the counter in the fridge for some time, and you are not sure if they are still okay to eat or use, then you would need to look for signs of spoiling.

There are a few ways to tell if a tomato has spoiled, and knowing what to look for helps you avoid eating any tomatoes that have passed their best-by date, and also helps you avoid throwing away tomatoes that were still fine to use!

Here is what to look for:

Soft Skin

One of the first signs that a tomato might be overripe is that the skin starts to soften.

As tomatoes are fairly soft already, this can be difficult to detect early on, but when the tomato continues to spoil, the skin will loosen and even begin to split.

Liquid Leak

A tomato that is spoiling will begin to leak liquid. The skin would have split or there will be some kind of damage to the tomato, from where the liquid will be leaking out of.

You might still get away with using the tomato, but if there are other signs of spoiling, it is best to throw it away.

Change In Appearance

A tomato that has spoiled will change in appearance quite a bit, and how the tomato changes in appearance will depend on how much it has spoiled so far.

Spoiled tomatoes will have cracks in the skin, discolored areas, and even mold spots. These are sure signs that the tomato is bad and it should be thrown away.

Soft To The Touch

You can give the tomato a very gentle squeeze or feel, and if the skin gives way under a small amount of pressure or you can feel that the flesh is very soft, then the tomato has started to go bad and it should be discarded.

Off Odors

A sure way to tell if the tomato is off is by having a smell of it. If you pick up any rancid or “off” odors, there is no point in trying to eat it!

Off or rancid odors means that the tomato is well past its best-by date and it should just be thrown away.

How Long Do Tomatoes Last?

How long a tomato may last will depend on how it is prepared, where it is stored, and how it is stored. Whole tomatoes kept in the fridge can last for up to 2 weeks, whereas kept on the counter, they would only last 1 week.

Make sure to keep a check that your tomatoes do not spoil too quickly so that you get to make the most out of this incredible produce!

Related Questions

Now that we’ve gone over how long tomatoes last, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the subject!

Can tomatoes be frozen whole?

Tomatoes can be frozen whole, or they can be chopped or sliced before being frozen. Use frozen whole tomatoes to make pasta sauces, casseroles, chili, and stew, as they will be soft and mushy once thawed.

Do frozen tomatoes still taste good once defrosted?

Frozen tomatoes will never taste as good as fresh tomatoes, but if used within 3 months of freezing, they will still add a fresh flavor to different meals.

After 3 months of freezing, the tomatoes will begin to decline in quality and taste and will become too mushy to use eventually.

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