Don't Refrigerate Those Little Red Gems! Homesteading Basics: How to Keep Tomatoes Fresh

Get the Most Flavor from Your Tomatoes

We all know that a lot of work goes into growing tomatoes at home. Even if you start with plants that someone else grew from seed, there’s still a lot that needs to be done.

You watch your baby plants like a hawk, monitoring for all the common pests like mealy bugs, aphids, white flies, and the dreaded tomato horn worm. You apply what seems like an impossible amount of water to keep the soil evenly moist even as conditions change rapidly. You fertilize carefully, making sure to provide sufficient nitrogen early on and then switching to fertilizers that are heavy on calcium and phosphorous late in the game. You watch carefully for problems like mildew, blight, fungus, and more. Growing tomatoes can be a real uphill battle.

Read more: Blossom End Rot – The #1 Tomato Killer

How to Keep Tomatoes Fresh

So, when you finally have a big basket full of these beautiful fruits, please don’t make the #1 mistake that beginning gardeners make with their hard-won harvest:

Keep Tomatoes Fresh without a Refrigerator

Obviously, if you have homegrown tomatoes, you have put in the required work. It makes sense that you want to do everything possible to keep those tomatoes fresh and take the best possible care of your harvest.

So, it might seem counter-intuitive that you should NOT put them in the refrigerator for safe keeping. But if you ask around about why people put in the work to grow their own tomatoes, the number one reason you’ll hear is “Taste.” Homegrown tomatoes just taste wonderful. There’s no other tomato on earth that has the sweet, complex, fresh flavor that a homegrown tomato has.

Putting those wonderful prizes in the refrigerator is one sure-fire way to kill that flavor. So, the best thing to do is find a shady spot where they’ll be safe to sit out. You’re on a little bit of a tight timeline here – you need to start working those fresh tomatoes in to your meal plan right away! The sooner you eat them, the more fresh the flavor will be.

If you have a ton, you might consider canning. But if you’re growing indeterminate tomatoes and they’re not all ripening at the same, keep a bowl or basket on the counter, and just add the new tomatoes in as you eat the tomatoes that have been in there the longest.

Don’t miss the next episode… Marjory is going to answer a question from a reader who wants to know about washing vegetables in the shower…


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Michael Ford


Michael has been the resident editor at The [Grow] Network since January 2015. Michael grew up in St. Louis, where he became a lover of nature - hiking and fishing his way through the Ozark hills in Missouri. He attended Baylor University in Waco, TX, and he currently lives in Austin. Michael has background experience in small-scale farming, commercial growing, vegetable gardening, landscaping, marketing, and software development. He received his Permaculture Design Certification from the Austin Permaculture Guild in 2013.

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  • Steven Hess

    I enjoy your artical. But Ilike my tomatoes cooled.


  • Tina

    Yes, leaving them on counter is fine…showering with them??? Really? I am from an area with sufficient rainfall, but even if not, I would not suggest this. Saving your water from the shower to water your plants one thing…..

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