Find a cool spot for them on the kitchen counter.

By Grace Haynes
Updated April 27, 2021
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Come summertime, farmers' markets are buzzing with shoppers lining up to purchase their haul of peak-season tomatoes. These plump, juicy gems steal the show in summer recipes, from fresh salads to savory pies to BLTs. Not to mention, those thick slices sprinkled with nothing but salt and pepper. The selection of tomatoes seems as endless as the dishes, with colorful heirloom varieties, petite cherry tomatoes, or larger beefsteaks. Whichever you choose, storing these prized pieces of produce in the right spot can help keep them fresher for longer.

For the best conditions:

To lengthen the lifespan of summer tomatoes, store them on the kitchen counter at room temperature and turn them shoulders down. Our Test Kitchen says 60 to 65° is an ideal temperature for storing and recommends placing your tomatoes out of direct sunlight. Setting them stem-side down can help prevent bruises. The Test Kitchen also suggets putting smaller cherry and grape tomatoes in a shallow dish so air can flow around them. Avoid storing tomatoes in the refrigerator, because the colder temperatures can make them mealy and hard.

Open-Faced Tomato Sandwiches with Creamy Cucumber Spread
These savory sandwiches are great for a casual summer cocktail party. Just slice in half to make handling just a bit easier—especially if guests are also juggling a cocktail glass.
| Credit: Alison Miksch

For the overripe and underripe:

Usually, tomatoes are pretty ripe around the time you buy them. Never refrigerate a tomato unless it's overripe and you want to try to keep it another day or so. If a tomato is very ripe, our Test Kitchen says it's ok to put it in the refrigerator to slow the ripening process, but keep it in there for only one or two days at most. For underripe tomatoes, you can speed up the ripening process by putting them in a single layer in a paper bag and closing it loosely. Store it in a dry, warm spot and check on them daily for ripeness.

If you'd like to preserve your summer bounty to use in dishes later in the year, try freezing or pickling your tomatoes.