May 21, 2020 at 11:19AM
Properly storing your produce can keep it fresher, longer—meaning you’ll get more flavor out of your fruits and veggies. While it may seem obvious to keep your bananas on the counter and your lettuce in the fridge, the consensus on tomatoes is much less clear. Thanks to a new study, published in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science, the long-standing question is finally answered…well, sort of.
According to the research, conducted by the University of Göttingen, where you store your tomatoes doesn’t make a difference when it comes to flavor. But something else does.
What did the researchers find?
The research team grew five varieties of tomatoes and stored them at room temperature (68 degrees Fahrenheit) and in the refrigerator (about 45 degrees Fahrenheit). Then, they had a panel of 12 sensory experts taste the tomatoes and judge their flavor.
The experts were chosen based on their acute abilities to perceive senses, including texture and taste. Both room-temp and refrigerated tomatoes were judged by their appearance (firmness of the fruit peel), odor (green-grassy odor, tomato-typical odor), taste (tomato-typical flavor, sweetness, sourness, juiciness), and aftertaste.
The analysts found no significant difference between the flavor of a fridge tomato and a room-temperature tomato, as long as they were the same variety.
What does this mean?
If you find storing your tomato in the fridge will cause it to become grainy or mushy, then keep it on the counter. If you’re worried keeping your tomatoes on the counter will cause them to ripen too quickly, well, put them in the fridge.
The research shows flavor is not influenced by where you store your tomatoes but by the type of tomato you’re storing. Like all produce, tomatoes will be at peak flavor when they’re in season (May to October). If you’re purchasing them year-round, keep these flavor profiles in mind.
For a sweet flavor, choose cherry tomatoes, cocktail tomatoes, or tomatoes on the vine. For mild and earthy notes, choose red beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes. If you like sour, go with green tomatoes.