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Should Ripe Tomatoes Be Refrigerated Or Kept At Room Temperature?

Can tomatoes be refrigerated or does that destroy their taste? This seems to be a pressing issue that is much discussed while people are at home during the pandemic. The advice I generally see is to NOT refrigerate them - to leave them out at room temperature until they are eaten.

Well... a German study examined that particular question and according to the researchers - the taste of the tomatoes is the same whether refrigerated or kept at room temperature for 4 days. Instead, the variety of tomato is most important for the flavor (taste).

Of course! Every variety of tomato has a different taste. One thing I question is the refrigerator temperature of 44.6°F (7°C) that was used, which seems a bit warm. Refrigerators in the US are normally kept cooler, between 33 and 39 degrees.

From Science Daily: Should tomatoes go in the fridge?

There is much debate about the correct storage of tomatoes. There are two main options available to consumers: storage in the refrigerator or at room temperature. A research team from the University of Göttingen has now investigated whether there are differences in the flavour of ripe tomatoes depending on how they are stored and taking into account the chain of harvesting from farm to fork. No perceptible difference was found: the variety of tomato is much more important. The results have been published in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science. 

How does the flavour change when ripe, picked tomatoes go through a commercial post-harvest chain and are then stored either in the refrigerator (7 degrees Celsius) or at room temperature (20 degrees Celsius)? Researchers from the Division of Quality of Plant Products at the University of Göttingen analysed flavour-related attributes in new tomato strains drawing on the expertise of a "sensory panel." The sensory panel consisted of experienced and trained assessors who use their senses to perceive and evaluate the sensory properties of products. Among other attributes, this panel examined the discernible sweetness, acidity and juiciness of tomatoes. No significant differences in flavour were found between the two storage options when the entire post-harvest chain is taken into account.

"It is the variety of tomato in particular that has an important influence on the flavour. Therefore, the development of new varieties with an appealing flavour can be a step towards improving the flavour quality of tomatoes," says Larissa Kanski, lead author of the study. "The shorter the storage period, the better it is for the flavour and related attributes. However, we were able to show that, taking into account the entire post-harvest chain, short-term storage of ripe tomatoes in the refrigerator did not affect the flavour," reports Head of Division Professor Elke Pawelzik.

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