Sunday, September 27, 2015

Here's the scoop: storing tomatoes

Lorraine Weller Clarke is the Project Specialist in Urban Agriculture, in the CAUSES Center for Urban Agriculture and Gardening Education.

Ever wonder why store-bought tomatoes are so red? Or why homegrown tomatoes don't last long in the fridge?

Most of the tomatoes we buy in D.C. supermarkets were grown in California. Harvested before they were ripe, the green tomatoes were treated with ethylene gas before being transported cross country and are "ripe" just in time to make their appearance in the produce aisles. Dr. Clarke explains:

"Those tomatoes tend to be more firm and rigid and don't soften a great deal in the refrigerator. Supermarket tomatoes can benefit from being on the counter, even temporarily, but the difference in texture is huge with vine-ripened tomatoes, which on the other hand, experience a natural softening of the cell walls. The softening of the cell walls on the vine makes these tomatoes delicious when you eat them, but they turn mealy in the fridge."

She continues: "Another thing to note. Some tomatoes with more rigid cell walls naturally (like cherry tomatoes or yellow pear) do just fine in the fridge and may last longer. The key is that cooling them arrests the ripening process and causes mealiness. Tiny tomatoes have a smaller “perfect ripeness” window, and ripening them on the counter top will only shorten their lifespan. Larger tomatoes also have more tissue in the middle that can turn mealy."

Now you know. Want to know more? Dr. Clarke suggests checking out What's the Best Way to Store Tomatoes

Tomatoes harvested from the UDC green roof.

No comments:

Post a Comment