How long do cherry tomatoes last? Well, the answer to this question mainly depends on the storage conditions.
Stored at room temperature, cherry tomatoes will last up to 1 week; in the refrigerator, 2 weeks; and when frozen, their shelf life will be about 6-8 months.
However, there is much more to say about cherry tomatoes’ longevity than just sheer numbers since there are some other minor factors that can also influence their shelf life, as well as the best handling methods that can help you to preserve them for longer.
If you are interested in becoming a cherry tomato storage expert and want to learn how to select, store, and savor these tiny, flavorful treasures, my advice to you would be to read and learn from this article.
Cherry Tomatoes Stored At Room Temperature
Probably the best method to store your cherry tomatoes is to store them at room temperature. When stored correctly, they can last for up to 1 week on the countertop.
This is especially the case with unripe tomatoes because, in this time frame, they will have the time to ripen and become ready for consumption. Of course, you need to know how to properly store them, so the correct guidelines are presented below.
To make the most of this storage method, follow these tips:
1. Ventilation and temperature: When storing your cherry tomatoes at room temperature, it is essential that you put them in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight, heat sources, or moisture.
The ideal temperature should be around 68-72°F (20-22°C) for optimal storage. This is important to keep in mind because high heat or cold can affect the tomatoes ripening process and spoil them prematurely.
2. Leaving the stems attached: If your cherry tomatoes still have their stems attached, leave them on during storage. The stems help to slow down the ripening process and prevent moisture loss, keeping the tomatoes fresher for longer.
3. Correct storage setup: The best way to prepare them for storage is to arrange your cherry tomatoes in a single layer on a shallow bowl, tray, or plate. This will prevent bruising and allow for even air circulation around your tiny fruits.
I also have to emphasize that, if possible, it is always best to use a container with ridges or a raised design to elevate the tomatoes and reduce contact with moisture.
4. Don’t wash them: This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wash them at any time, but washing cherry tomatoes before storage can be bad for them.
Namely, excess moisture may appear and it can encourage mold growth and spoilage. So, instead of washing them before storage, wash them right before you are ready to use them in your dish.
Cherry Tomatoes In The Refrigerator
Storing cherry tomatoes in the fridge is not the ideal storage method because the temperature in the fridge can affect their flavor and texture, making them less juicy and somewhat mealy.
However, if you want to store your cherry tomatoes for longer, or if you are dealing with ripe cherry tomatoes that can not stay at room temperature for too long, you can choose this method.
If you refrigerate them properly, cherry tomatoes will stay good in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Follow these steps for the perfect cherry tomatoes in your refrigerator:
1. Breathable container is essential: When refrigerating, always place your cherry tomatoes in a plastic or paper bag with a few small holes for air circulation.
That will allow tomatoes to breathe while also maintaining the right level of humidity inside the bag.
Also, avoid using airtight containers, as they can trap moisture and promote mold growth.
2. Avoid washing before refrigeration: Just like with room temperature storage, it is not recommended to wash cherry tomatoes before placing them in the refrigerator.
Excess moisture can promote mold and bacteria growth at lower temperatures as well. Instead, wash them before you are ready to use them.
3. Don’t overcrowd the bag: When placing cherry tomatoes in the bag, avoid overcrowding them.
Give them enough space to ensure proper air circulation because overpacking can lead to bruising, which can subsequently cause the tomatoes to spoil more quickly.
4. Store them in the crisper drawer: The crisper drawer is that part of the fridge that is located at the bottom and it is designed to maintain a slightly more stable temperature compared to the rest of the fridge, making it the ideal spot for storing cherry tomatoes.
Aside from that, the crisper drawer also helps to regulate humidity levels, which can further prolong the freshness of your tomatoes.
5. Regularly check for spoilage: Because your cherry tomatoes are not stored in a place where you can see them all the time, it is essential to inspect them regularly for any signs of spoilage, such as mold, soft spots, or a foul odor.
Frozen Cherry Tomatoes
If you are up to preserving your cherry tomatoes for a really long period of time, you can always freeze them. They will stay good for up to 6-8 months if you go through the process the right way.
However, you should take note that freezing tends to alter their texture, making them softer and mushier once thawed. So, it is best to opt for this method if you are planning to use cherry tomatoes for cooked dishes, such as sauces, stews, and casseroles.
Here is what you need to do:
1. Prepare them correctly: Unlike the two previous methods, before freezing them, it is advised to wash your cherry tomatoes, but you also need to dry them thoroughly afterwards, i.e. make sure that there is no residual moisture on the surface.
Also, if you see any overripe or damaged tomatoes, remove them immediately because it will be more difficult to detect them after the process.
2. Use the baking sheet to arrange them: After preparing them the right way, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and arrange your cherry tomatoes in a single layer, making sure they dont touch one another.
The parchment paper prevents the tomatoes from sticking to the baking sheet and makes them easier to transfer later.
3. Freeze your cherry tomatoes: Before freezing them long term, you need to pre-freeze your cherry tomatoes so that they are solid.
In order to do that, place a baking sheet with arranged cherry tomatoes in the freezer, keeping it level to prevent the tomatoes from rolling. Freeze them until they are solid, which takes around 1-2 hours.
4. Transfer to a freezer-safe container: Once your cherry tomatoes are frozen solid, remove them from the baking sheet and transfer them to a resealable plastic bag or an airtight container.
Label the container or the bag with the exact date of freezing to help you keep track of their shelf life.
5. Store in the freezer: Finally, you can place the container of frozen cherry tomatoes back in the freezer, ensuring it’s properly sealed.
Cooked Cherry Tomatoes
It is a different story when it comes to cooked cherry tomatoes since their shelf life tends to be shorter compared to their raw counterparts.
So, in order to avoid any mistakes when dealing with cooked cherry tomatoes, the guidelines on their shelf life and storage are explained below.
• Don’t leave them at room temperature: Although fresh whole tomatoes can be stored at room temperature and stay good for a decent amount of time, this is not recommended for cooked ones because the risk of spoilage is much higher.
• Cool them down first: Room temperature is not an option, but refrigerator and freezer certainly are. However, before storing them, you need to cool them down to room temperature.
However, don’t leave them out for more than two hours, as harmful bacteria can grow rapidly at room temperature.
• Use an airtight container: After they are cooled to room temperature, you need to transfer your cooked cherry tomatoes to an airtight container or resealable plastic bag to maintain their freshness and prevent contamination from other food items.
• Refrigeration: Store the airtight container of cooked cherry tomatoes in the refrigerator, where they can last for up to 3-4 days. Make sure to label the container with the date to help you track their freshness.
• Freezing: If you are not satisfied with preserving your cooked cherry tomatoes for just a few days, you can always freeze them.
All you have to do is to transfer that airtight container or resealable plastic bag with cooked cherry tomatoes to the freezer and they will stay good for up to 3-4 months without any significant changes in flavor and texture.
What About Chopped Cherry Tomatoes?
Chopped cherry tomatoes tend to have a shorter shelf life than whole cherry tomatoes due to their exposed flesh, which can oxidize and spoil much faster.
If you want to know how to store chopped cherry tomatoes and how long they will last, check out these guidelines below.
• Refrigerate immediately: When you chop your cherry tomatoes, it is essential to refrigerate them because they will oxidize quickly at room temperature due to their exposed flesh.
To refrigerate them properly, you need to transfer your chopped cherry tomatoes to an airtight container or cover them with plastic wrap and place them in the refrigerator, ideally in the crisper drawer where the temperature and humidity are more stable.
• Shelf life in the fridge: If stored correctly in the refrigerator, chopped cherry tomatoes can last for about 2-3 days.
It is important to check them regularly to ensure that there aren’t any signs of spoilage.
• Freezing chopped cherry tomatoes: When it comes to freezing chopped cherry tomatoes, this can be a good method if you want to store them for longer and use them in some type of cooked dish because their texture won’t be the same.
The storage guideline is similar to that of whole cherry tomatoes. You just need to spread them in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet, freeze them until solid, and then transfer them to a freezer-safe container or resealable plastic bag.
Just like whole ones, chopped cherry tomatoes will last in the freezer for up to 6-8 months.
Important Tips For Selecting And Storing Cherry Tomatoes
You now know how to store your cherry tomatoes the right way and how long will they stay good based on the storage method. But, is there anything more that you can do? Well, of course there is.
Choosing the right ones and knowing some tips and tricks for handling is all you need to do.
Choose The Best Cherry Tomatoes
Here are some important pieces of advice you need to know:
• Color: When choosing the best cherry tomatoes, it is important to look for ones with a vibrant, consistent color, which indicates ripeness and good quality.
Avoid those with uneven coloring or noticeable green spots, as they might not be fully ripe or flavorful.
• Firmness: The ideal cherry tomato should be firm but slightly yielding to pressure, indicating ripeness without being overripe.
Always avoid tomatoes that are too soft, as they may be past their prime, or too hard, as they might not have developed their full flavor yet.
• Skin condition: Always choose tomatoes with smooth, unblemished skin for the best results and the longest shelf life.
Avoid the ones that have any signs of wrinkled, cracked, or damaged skin, as these can indicate poor quality or shorter shelf life.
• Aroma: Smell the cherry tomatoes near the end of the stem. A ripe and flavorful tomato should have a pleasant, slightly sweet, and earthy aroma. If the tomatoes lack any scent, they might not be ripe or flavorful enough.
• Check for mold: Inspect the cherry tomatoes for any visible signs of mold or decay, such as dark spots, fuzziness, or a foul odor. If you see any of these signs, avoid them as they might spoil quickly or affect the quality of the remaining fruits.
• Avoid bruising: Choose cherry tomatoes without bruises or dents, as these imperfections can accelerate spoilage and reduce their shelf life. Handle the tomatoes gently to prevent any damage during selection and transportation.
Few More Tips For Maintaining Their Freshness
Although you were already able to see some tips for storing and handling cherry tomatoes successfully throughout this article, there are a few more things you can do to maintain their freshness for longer.
• Store unripe tomatoes at room temperature to ripen naturally.
• You can store ripe cherry tomatoes at room temperature as well, but if you opt for long-term storage, you can also refrigerate them or freeze them.
• When it comes to overripe cherry tomatoes, it is best to consume them immediately because they tend to spoil more quickly.
• Keep cherry tomatoes away from ethylene-gas products, such as apples, bananas, and avocados, to prevent premature ripening.
• Always use the older tomatoes before the newer ones to ensure you consume them while they are still fresh.