Published On: Tue, Mar 4th, 2014

Why we should not refrigerate tomatoes?

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Have you ever noticed that after a few days in the refrigerator tomatoes lose taste and take a pasty texture? French scientists from the National Institute of Agronomic Research (INRA , for its acronym in French) explain why refrigerating tomatoes is not a good idea.

Tomato flavor is due to a mixture of sugars , acids and volatile ( aroma producing compounds ) . When the tomatoes are stored at room temperature , let’s say 20 degrees Celsius (approximately 69°F), the tomato not only keeps its volatiles, but it actually continues to produce them. Which means that its flavor becomes increasingly intense.

On the contrary, when stored in the refrigerator or a temperature of 3 degrees Celsius (approximately 36°F), tomatoes not only fail to produce volatile, but existing levels begin to decrease. The characteristic “fresh” tomato flavor is lost.


Because the tomato is a sensitive fruit (yes, we said “fruit”, because it contains seeds) , it does not need not be exposed to freezing temperatures to start to decay, anything below 10 degrees Celsius (approximately 12°F) can cause chilling injury , as softening, water-soaked areas and decay.

Ideally, store tomatoes at room temperature, but if you insist on chilling , there is a way to minimize the damage. Interestingly the effects of cold are , to some extent, reversible. The researchers found that , although never returned to their original levels , tomatoes regained some of its volatiles after spending 24 hours at room temperature , even after 6 days in the fridge. It is advisable to remove them from the refrigerator a day before eating.

The results of this study have been published in the journal PubMed.


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