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-   -   August tomatoes--does putting them in the fridge ruin them? (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=801653)

samclem 08-16-2016 08:03 PM

August tomatoes--does putting them in the fridge ruin them?
 
Common wisdom is don't put fresh tomatoes in the fridge. Why? Does it chemically change them? Give me a scientific cite.

Or, can you put a fresh tomato in the fridge, and take it out an hour before you slice it and it warms up to room temperature and tastes just like it came from your garden?

Most interested in answers backed with some science.

Ukulele Ike 08-16-2016 08:45 PM

Yeah, sure, Sam. Did your GRANDMA back up her opinions with a whole bunch of your fancy Science? Or did she just leave the tomatoes out of the refrigerator like any sensible person?

Chronos 08-16-2016 09:01 PM

Unfortunately, the world may never know, as the experiment would require having a fresh tomato and not immediately eating it. Ethical scientists have their limits.

Moonlitherial 08-17-2016 01:59 PM

As the current possessor of an absolute glut of tomatoes (Yay for wildly producing plants) I feel that I am currently qualified to answer this query.

1. Tomatoes are absolutely at their best warm off the plant.
2. Kept at room temperature they maintain their lovely sweet tastiness
3. When stored in the fridge and consumed cold they are almost tasteless and watery. Tastes like the worst of the winter tomatoes shipped in thousands of miles.
4. When stored in the fridge and allowed to warm to room temperature before consuming they are still not as good as 1 or 2, but they are close. And this is a much better option than trying to keep too many tomatoes on the counter and ending up tossing them as they rot. (this is not a situation I ever expected to find myself in but...holy cow, I swear they are mutant plants)

Sorry the only science I have is personal experimentation to back this up but since I've been a vocal "OMG how could you put that in the fridge" proponent my entire life I felt the need to bring some balance to the universe.

Jeff Lichtman 08-17-2016 03:49 PM

From On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee:
Quote:

Tomatoes came originally from a warm climate, and should be stored at room temperature. Their fresh flavor readily suffers from refrigeration. Tomatoes at the mature-green stage are especially sensitive to chilling at temperatures below about 55F/13C, and suffer damage to their membranes that results in minimal flavor development, blotchy coloration, and a soft, mealy texture when they're brought back to room temperature. Fully ripe tomatoes are less sensitive, but lose flavor due to the loss of flavor-producing enzyme activity. Some of this activity can come back, so refrigerated tomatoes should be allowed to recover at room temperature for a day or two before eating.

RealityChuck 08-17-2016 05:01 PM

Well, this article actually tested this out by putting home grown tomatoes in the fridge.

They discovered that they didn't taste any different from those left out, and they kept longer.

The issue is that you shouldn't put supermarket tomatoes in the fridge. They are picked unripe and won't ripen when cold and will have all the problems people cite. All studies of refrigeration of tomatoes used the supermarket ones to test.

Home grown tomatoes are just fine if picked when fully ripe.

Channing Idaho Banks 08-17-2016 05:13 PM

The only reason I would put a tomato in the refrigerator would be if I had so many God damn tomatoes getting ripe at the same time that I had to slow them down later for preserving.

bb49 08-17-2016 06:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Channing Idaho Banks (Post 19562213)
The only reason I would put a tomato in the refrigerator would be if I had so many God damn tomatoes getting ripe at the same time that I had to slow them down later for preserving.

That's what we are doing right now. In the fridge until a few more ripen.
And thanks to this topic an argument or two has been won!

Doug K. 08-17-2016 06:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RealityChuck (Post 19562191)
Well, this article actually tested this out by putting home grown tomatoes in the fridge.

They discovered that they didn't taste any different from those left out, and they kept longer.

The issue is that you shouldn't put supermarket tomatoes in the fridge. They are picked unripe and won't ripen when cold and will have all the problems people cite. All studies of refrigeration of tomatoes used the supermarket ones to test.

Home grown tomatoes are just fine if picked when fully ripe.

Mr. Gritzer is lying through his teeth. Refrigerated tomatoes are nearly flavorless, as confirmed by many experiments over a period of more than 50 years.

rowrrbazzle 08-17-2016 09:04 PM

io9 article: http://io9.gizmodo.com/seriously-fol...r-t-1535018994

Based on another article (paywalled). PubMed entry http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23561178

Another article http://www.compoundchem.com/2014/10/02/tomatoes/

I have only a very vague understanding of the details described in those articles. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable can help.

tenacious j 08-17-2016 10:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Doug K. (Post 19562447)
Mr. Gritzer is lying through his teeth. Refrigerated tomatoes are nearly flavorless, as confirmed by many experiments over a period of more than 50 years.

Exactly, not to mention mushy. Screw science, we have experience.

phall0106 08-18-2016 07:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Channing Idaho Banks (Post 19562213)
The only reason I would put a tomato in the refrigerator would be if I had so many God damn tomatoes getting ripe at the same time that I had to slow them down later for preserving.

The really ripe ones that need to be used or preserved NOW get stuck in the slow cooker for several hours to cook them down. I then put that into the fridge until I can preserve them (usually via canning).

lost4life 08-18-2016 12:38 PM

So what's the best way to store half a tomato? Seems like that would have to go in the fridge.

quiltguy 08-18-2016 01:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lost4life (Post 19564108)
So what's the best way to store half a tomato? Seems like that would have to go in the fridge.

Half a tomato? An odd beast I've never encountered. Chow down, sonny, time in the fridge won't make it any better.

Side note: If a tomato is not easily peelable, it's not edible. God bless my Hoosier MIL for making me aware of this basic truism. :)

pulykamell 08-19-2016 09:49 AM

Well, here's Serious Eats weighing in back in 2014 on the issue. They seem to say it's fine. Encourage it, in fact. I haven't made that leap of faith, yet. I just keep 'em on the counter.

Doug K. 08-19-2016 08:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pulykamell (Post 19566556)
Well, here's Serious Eats weighing in back in 2014 on the issue. They seem to say it's fine. Encourage it, in fact. I haven't made that leap of faith, yet. I just keep 'em on the counter.

Already mentioned in post 6, and pooh-poohed in 9 and 11.

ETA: If you're going to lie about test results, you should make sure your test isn't easy to replicate.

Ukulele Ike 08-19-2016 08:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chronos (Post 19560094)
Unfortunately, the world may never know, as the experiment would require having a fresh tomato and not immediately eating it.

I have heard that there are those who will not eat a fresh tomato, even in August. I believe in Chacun a son gout and all that, but I still think there is something seriously wrong with their brains.

samclem 08-19-2016 08:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Doug K. (Post 19568128)
Already mentioned in post 6, and pooh-poohed in 9 and 11.

Post 9 and 11 are worthless as science. Post 6 says it's true, essentially.

Doug K. 08-19-2016 10:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by samclem (Post 19568188)
Post 9 and 11 are worthless as science. Post 6 says it's true, essentially.

Without any support. Just an assertion that is easily shown to be false. There have already been multiple cites provided that explain what refrigeration does to tomatoes and why. The author of the article linked in post 6 just claims that he kept tomatoes in the fridge for a few days and couldn't taste any difference. The "experiment", such as it is, is easy enough to perform yourself, and I have found that the flavor difference is huge. So have many others. People who understand the science better than anyone here have even explained the processes that cause the flavor difference.

4d3fect 08-21-2016 03:35 PM

I think people are too dependent on fridges, I figure if you need storage for a bumper crop temporarily, ok, but otherwise leave 'em out.

Jackmannii 08-21-2016 04:05 PM

We've had a bumper crop this summer. Those that aren't consumed at one sitting* go into the fridge, and taste just fine if eaten within a few days. In fact, the best-tasting tomato I've had this summer was a home-grown beefsteak type that was sliced cold into my salad (especially good with a few Baco-bits).

I am curious how a tomato could lose "enzyme activity" (and thus flavor) in the fridge, but magically recover the enzyme activity when warmed back to room temp. I suspect this is utter bullshit.

*our black Lab plucked a big ripe one off the vine the other day and happily downed the whole thing, chomping away and expelling juice and seeds out the sides of her mouth. She eagerly eats cold slices too.

purplehearingaid 08-21-2016 05:00 PM

A neighbor gave me some home grown tomatoes and I put them in the fridge b/c I don't like warm tomatoes in my salad .

tenacious j 08-21-2016 10:03 PM

somehow I missed the part where you only wanted science, not my 45 years of tomato eating experience. My bad.
Here's your science: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23561178
Counter wins.

MacLir 08-22-2016 09:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RealityChuck (Post 19562191)
Well, this article actually tested this out by putting home grown tomatoes in the fridge.

They discovered that they didn't taste any different from those left out, and they kept longer.

The issue is that you shouldn't put supermarket tomatoes in the fridge. They are picked unripe and won't ripen when cold and will have all the problems people cite. All studies of refrigeration of tomatoes used the supermarket ones to test.

Home grown tomatoes are just fine if picked when fully ripe.

News Flash -
Supermarket tomatoes have already been refrigerated for a variable length of time. Tomatoes are picked at the green-ripe stage (any that are riper than that are discarded), washed, graded, boxed, and stored in refrigerators the size of a basketball court. When they are about to be shipped - which can be weeks to months later - the cooler is flooded with ethylene gas for 24 hours. The boxed tomatoes are then loaded on the trucks and sent to market. By the time they get there they have turned red (Ripe :dubious: ).

Worked in a tomato packing house during college summer break.


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