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Top 6 Tomato Storage Tips | Veg Box Storage Tips

Are you frustrated that you are throwing out your tomatoes way too soon? In this series, Veg Box Storage Tips, we share some of our best tricks that have been working for us. Today we share our top 6 tomato storage tips.

The general tip that is commonly suggested is to always store tomatoes at room temperature, but even though this may be the common way, we also have some other ideas for best practice. The key with tomatoes is to gauge what degree of ripeness they are, as room temperature makes them ripen and refrigeration puts ripening to a halt. 

Storing Unripe Tomatoes

Let’s start with unripe tomatoes. These are best-kept stem side town in a single layer either in a cardboard box or in a paper bag. Keep these in a cool, dry place and they will turn ripe in no time. 

Storing Ripe Tomatoes

Ripe tomatoes should be kept away from sunlight, stems up, and at room temperature on your kitchen counter. Again, the common theme here is to keep them at a single layer and try not to have them touch each other or putting pressure on one another. This allows them to keep longer. By keeping the tomatoes stem up here you are reducing softening and darkening of the fruit.

Storing Overripe Tomatoes

Overripe tomatoes? Don’t throw them out just yet! You know a tomato is overripe when it is very soft if gently squeezed and has very red skin. Keep overripe tomatoes in the fridge and they will keep for another two/three days. The cold air will keep the tomatoes from further ripening. To avoid moisture loss and wrinkly tomatoes, keep them in punnet or clam shelled container. Do make sure to let the tomatoes get to room temperature before you eat them from the fridge to bring back the original tastes (we recommend around an hour before eating). 

Freezing Tomatoes

Can tomatoes be frozen? YES. Whole, chopped, or pureed, freezing your tomatoes is defiantly a possibility. You can freeze tomatoes fresh, cooked, as a sauce or juice, whatever suits your meal plan for the future. But please do remember that your fresh full flavours will not be there 100% as they would be when eating a fresh tomato straight from the farm. Also keep in mind that whatever you do when you are ready to use these frozen tomatoes that they will come out mushy so be prepared to use them in things like juices, stews, pasta sauces, etc. We also do not recommend to season tomatoes before freezing but rather before using them post freezing. 

Dehydrating Tomatoes

Another way of preserving tomatoes is by dehydrating them, which removes the water content from the fruit. The time it takes to completely dry the tomatoes is dependent on several factors: - Humidity in the air during the drying process - The efficiency of the mechanism you are using - How thin you slice your tomato pieces - The tomato variety We have found the best variety to use for this process are the meaty, firm tomatoes as they have minimal seeds. Now the secret in drying tomatoes is getting the temperature and air circulation spot on. Too low (32 °C) will allow bacteria to grow and mold to grow. Too high (77°C +) will cook and harden too fast whilst the inside stays moist, resulting in spoilage. We have found that the right temperatures are around 60°C) A good test to see if you have dried them correctly are the following: - When touching the centre of the tomato no pulp should stick to your finger - They feel leathery and dry - Slightly bendable

Canning Tomatoes

The trick with canning tomatoes is not to use overripe tomatoes. This is a no-no.

Follow these instructions for the canning process:

1. Boil whole tomatoes for just enough time to let the skin start cracking (usually around 1 minute)

2. Immediately put them in cold water so that you can easily remove the steins

3. Add acid to the tomatoes: the quantities here depend on the variety you are using as these vary from variety to variety to variety

4. Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or ½ teaspoon of citric acid – alternatively, you can use a commercial vinegar (more detailed quantities in blog posts to come)

5. Add in the acidic formula to the jar before filling them with the tomatoes

6. Add a bit of sugar to offset the acid taste.

7. Ensure your jar is very clean, dry and can seal perfectly for long storage time periods

8. Do not overfill the jars – to the shoulder of the jar works

9. In a large pot, fill water to cover the tops of the jars by 1-2 inches. Try and put the jars on a rack in the pot as if they come into contact with the bottom of the pot they may break.

10. Bring the water to a steady boil for about 45 minutes

11. Remove the jar and let them cool in room temperature

More details to follow in future blog posts on preserving tomatoes. We also have tips of how to store Coriander, and Spinach in previous blog series.

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