A perfectly ripe, fresh, slightly crisp tomato elevates so many things, from salads to BLTs. But here’s the problem: At my house, we frequently cannot consume them in the short window of a couple of days before they turn mushy and slightly spoiled.
I have tested so many ways to keep tomatoes fresh long enough to use them — on the counter, upside down, in a closed container in the fridge, attached to the stem, to name a few. None were super satisfying.
When stored in the refrigerator, tomatoes did last longer before starting to rot, but the flavor waned considerably and the texture was mushy.
Another method that promised to give excellent results was to store a fresh tomato on the counter but turn it upside down so that it is resting on the stem area. At first, this seemed foolish to me, but I gave it a trial run anyway. Surprisingly, it did seem to help to extend freshness for a day or two, which at the time was exciting as it was better than other methods I tested. The idea is to shield the tomato’s “opening” spot from heat and light.
One method that did work very well required my FoodSaver. Dropping a whole tomato into a mason jar, using the FoodSaver’s jar lid attachment (a separate purchase), and storing the jar in the refrigerator works wonderfully well to suck out all the oxygen, then seal the jar tightly. But it requires a fairly large investment into a countertop food sealer that has the capability to vacuum seal a canning-type jar.
But this new method? It is now my absolute favorite and the only way I will ever store tomatoes. Yes, even though I have a FoodSaver, it is much faster and doesn’t use up any refrigerator space. This method I’m about to tell you about is fast, cheap and overall better than any method I have tried.
The theory is that cellophane tape (often referred to as Scotch tape — the kind we use to wrap packages) applied securely to the tomato to cover the spot where the stem was attached to the vine, creates a barrier to hold moisture in and keep potential bacteria and mold out.
Using this method, I can leave an unwashed, “taped” tomato on the counter for 10 days, and find it is as fresh as it was on day 1. I simply remove the tape, wash the tomato, slice and enjoy. That’s it — the best way ever to store fresh tomatoes long enough to actually use them, without any detectable change in texture or flavor. Amazing.
If you go to EverydayCheapskate.com/tomato, you can see photos of how to do this (it is quite simple). I have discovered that leaving the green leafy bit on the tomato or removing it before taping doesn’t seem to make any difference at all. This trick still works as described, provided I carefully cover the cut stem and green “blossomy” part completely.
And now you know why a tape dispenser has found a permanent spot in one of my kitchen drawers!