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Get the Most Out of Your Tomato Harvest

You had a successful tomato growing season and now your kitchen is overflowing with tomatoes.

Congratulations! However, without proper storing methods, your bountiful harvest might all have been for nothing.

The degree of ripeness determines how the tomato should be stored.

Here are some suggestions dealing with tomatoes in various stages of ripeness:

Green, Unripe Tomatoes

Green, unripe tomatoes are best stored in a paper bag in a single layer with the stem down. Keeping them upside down will help preserve their freshness. They should be kept somewhere cool or at room temperature until they turn red.

Some people find that placing tomatoes upside down makes the fruit bruise. However, a simple trick is to place a piece of tape over where the stem was to prevent harm.

Tomatoes ripen from warmth, not sunlight. If the temperature drops too low outside and especially before the first frost, pick the tomatoes and bring them inside to continue ripening.

Ripe Tomatoes

Ripe tomatoes need to be kept at room temperature in a single layer and stem side up. Keep them away from sunlight because when sunlight shines on stored tomatoes, it lowers the vitamin C content. The tomatoes should be eaten within a couple of days

Overripe Tomatoes

Store overripe tomatoes in the refrigerator because the cold air delays the ripening process, allowing them to last for a couple of more days. However, refrigeration decreases the quality and flavor, so take the tomatoes out of the fridge to let them warm to room temperature before eating to help regain some of the lost flavor.

For more information on safely growing, processing and selling tomatoes and other specialty crops in North Dakota, visit NDSU Extension’s Field to Fork website at



Abigail Glaser, NDSU dietetics and management communication student

Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension food and nutrition specialist

Holland, K. (July 24, 2019). The Best Way to Store Tomatoes, According to a Tomato Farmer. Retrieved from

This project was supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service through grant 14-SCBGP-ND-0038. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.

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