A lot of people buy tomatoes in bulk because they tend to be cheaper in large volumes. It’s all part of budgeting really, especially if you have a large family to feed.
While it may be wise to stock up on tomatoes at discounted prices, but if you don’t know how to store them properly, then there is a very high chance that you will be left with a pile of rotten tomatoes. (And I’m not talking about movie reviews here!)
This is exactly what happened to me in the past!
You see, we have this amazing local market that only opens on the weekend. Inside you will find a number of stalls that would sell boxes upon boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables at really cheap prices. This is where we get most of our “Healthy” foods, including our favorite red tomatoes.
The only problem is, they come in large quantities, something like 24-30 tomatoes per box.
So no matter how much we enjoyed eating this nutritious fruit (don’t argue with me, it is a fruit!@), we just can’t seem to get through them quick enough. At one point, it was actually getting frustrating because we were forcing ourselves to eat them, to finish them.
Can you imagine having tomatoes for breakfast, lunch and then dinner too?
Honestly, it drove me nuts!
The truth is, we didn’t know the right way of storing them so after 4 days (max), the skin would start to wrinkle, become soft, mushy and then a day or 2 later, they are pretty much spoiled leaving us with little choice but to throw them in the bin.
This wasteful habit went on for a while and I needed a solution!
I needed it fast!
You see, ever since I developed a passion in food and cooking, I’ve gained an enormous respect for ingredients. So to see all those overripe and rotting tomatoes going to waste. It was a difficult sight to watch to be honest.
So I started doing research on the number of ways to store tomatoes in the hope that I can preserve them for long as possible. To my surprise, there were quite a number of storage techniques available online. Some were very simple, some really clever, but a few others were just outright stupid to say the least.
And guess what? I didn’t even know that you can freeze tomatoes.
Yes, you can and if done correctly, they can last up to 7 months!
Now that’s something I want to learn.
So here, I have done the hard work, discarded the useless ones, kept all the real working methods and compiled it into a STEP-BY-STEP guide for anyone who wants to maximize their tomato viability according to their own cooking fetish.
Check it out!
How To Keep Whole Tomato Fresh For At Least 1 Week
This method is very simple and you don’t need to put them in the fridge.
Putting tomatoes in the refrigerator actually affects the taste slightly. It’s not a definite no no, but if you can eat it fresh while keeping it’s maximum taste, texture and flavor. Then why not?
However, this method should NOT be used for large quantities, instead take out what your family can eat in 1 week and follow the steps below.
- Don’t wash your tomatoes (Only wash what you use and right before you use them)
- Check to see if stems are still attached. If yes, great! If not, use a small sticky tape to cover the stem area. This will greatly extend it’s life.
- Place your tomatoes inside a large colander or fruit basket where there are lots of ventilation.
- Store in a cool area away from sunlight.
That’s pretty much it for this method and you can keep them fresh for at least 1 week.
You may notice some starting to ripe after this time. In this case, you can start storing them in the fridge. (See next method).
How To Store In Fridge & Keep Fresh For At Least 2 Weeks
This method was inspired by My Dishes from youtube.
- In a large sealable container, layer the bottom with a kitchen towel.
- Now place tomatoes with stem side facing down onto the kitchen towel. Place any amounts that your family can finish in 2 weeks, or whatever you can fit in the container and your fridge.
- Lay another kitchen towel on top of the tomatoes and close the lid.
- Store container in the refrigerator (Doh!)
Here’s the full video.
As you can see, the video did not have sound, voice, nor any clear instructions. However, you can sort of tell what the person is doing. So if you follow the steps I listed above, then you should be fine.
In saying that, I would suggest you to use method 1 first to keep your tomatoes as fresh as possible. Then after 1 week, you can place whatever is left using Method 2 and it should last you at least another week.
How To Freeze Tomatoes & Keep For Up To 7 Months
I get asked this question a lot and that is “Can you freeze tomatoes?“. The short answer is YES, but only if you follow instructions below. Do this correctly and you can keep them inside your freezer for months!
For Large Size
- Clean tomatoes thoroughly under cold running tap water and pad dry.
- Remove stem and the core using a small paring knife by sticking the blade into the core and cut by rotating 360 degrees. Also remove any bruising or bad spots you see.
- Cut into quarters or large wedges (this procedure allows for easy storage) and make sure you use a serrated or bread knife to minimize the loss of juice during the cutting process.
- Place wedged or quartered tomatoes onto a plate with the skin facing down. Cling warp and then put in the freezer for at least 4 hours.
- Take out plate and transfer frozen tomatoes into a high quality freezable zip lock bag.
- Close zip lock bag and leave a 1 cm gap. (Just don’t close it yet!)
- Take a straw, put into the gap and suck out all the air from the bag (Yes, using your mouth). Now close it quickly.
- Stack the bag(s) into your freezer and only take out what you need for defrost or thaw.
- After thawed, simply remove skin and start cooking.
For Small Size
- Repeat Step 1. as per above.
- Repeat Step 2. as per above.
- Use a paring knife to mark a X at the bottom of the tomato (opposite the core side), about 5mm deep. This process allows for easy peeling after it has been thawed.
- Place tomatoes inside a freezable zip lock bag.
- Close zip lock bag and leave 1cm gap.
- Use a straw to suck all the air out through the gap and fully close immediately.
- Stack bag(s) into freezer and only take out what you need for defrost or thaw for cooking.
- Remove skin after thawing because frozen tomato skins are very chewy or rubbery.
- The meat will be mushy after the thawing process, so this freezing method is for tomatoes used for cooking only.
- Don’t worry, they are excellent for stews, soup, curry, sauce, ketchup, puree and other recipes (use your own ideas).
- Not recommended for sandwiches or salads. (You just won’t get the crunch!)
Now if the above steps are too much to swallow, here’s a video to see it in action, thanks to Poonam’s Kitchen from youtube.
How To Freeze Homemade Tomato Puree / Paste & Keep Them For Up To 3 Months?
I love making tomato purees because it greatly reduces my preparation and cooking time. When done and preserved correctly, they can last up to 3 months in the freezer.
Maybe they’ll last longer, but that’s the longest I’ve tried and guess what…
I’m still ALIVE!
Before we go ahead, you’ll need my homemade tomato puree recipe.
After that, simply follow the steps below:
- Make sure the puree is cooled down.’
- Pour puree into an ice cube tray.
- Cover with cling wrap and store in the freezer for 6 hours.
- Remove tray from freezer and transfer puree cubes into a freezer safe zip lock bag.
- Push down onto the bag to remove as much air as you can, then close it. (Just try your best to get as much air out as possible).
- Put it back into the freezer and you’re done!
Now here’s the thing, there is a fine line when it comes to puree and paste. I mean, I was fairly confused myself. Some people say puree is the thicker and more concentrated blend, while others says the same about pastes.
I guess it really depends on which country you live in and what you are used to. In Australia, I believe tomato paste is the more concentrated product, where puree is more watery. At least that’s what I’m accustomed to and if I’m correct, America is the opposite.
At the end of the day, they are all made from fresh tomatoes blended and cooked to a certain consistency. So I say stuff it and just enjoy the freaking food…okay!
From my own experiment, I found that the longer I simmer the tomato (puree), the more concentrated and thick they become, which becomes a paste. So whatever you want to freeze, just reduce it down according to your own taste buds and what you generally cook at home.
For me, I mainly use it for pasta sauce, pizza, meatballs, lasagnas, or as a base for many other stew, soups and baking recipes.
The number of meals you can make are endless.
- Always count the number of tomatoes you used when making the puree. This will give you a good idea of how many frozen cubes to use in your cooking.For example, 2 puree cubes = 1 tomato.
- Instead of using the microwave to thaw or defrost your puree cubes, consider leaving it in the fridge overnight. Just transfer what you need onto a bowl, cling wrap and you will have what you need to use the next day.
Understanding how to store food properly can play a MAJOR role in tightening a family’s budget. It’s kind of like doing business or investing in the stock market. You buy at the lowest cost, keep it for as long as possible and then sell it at the highest price.
Except the selling part, in our case, really only means feeding it into your stomach, or your loved ones.
But the way I like to think about it is investing into my family’s health. Now this is (and forever will be) the smartest investment you will ever make in your life. Tomato is an extremely healthy fruit (or veggie as some likes to call it), so you WILL want everyone you care about to eat these as much as possible.
Think mediterranean diet, they eat tomatoes all the time and everyone knows they are a healthy bunch.
Now by learning the above 4 ways of storing tomatoes, you will be saving yourself a lot of money over the years while keeping your family happy and healthy.
Really…its a win win!
So I hope you found this article useful and while you’re at it, please do SHARE.
Trust me, your friends and families will only love you for it.
Until next time…
I Love My Tongue