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Do Tomatoes Go Bad?

  • c

We're in the middle of making a big batch of tomato sauce.... boiled a pot of roma tomatoes on Saturday morning - let them sit at room temperature until today.

We blended and boiled them again today and when we tasted the tomatoes it was much more tart than what we've usually experienced.

Do you think letting them sit for a day st room temperature would make the tomatoes go bad or is the tart taste due to the type of tomatoes we used?

I don't think they're bad but was curious what other people think.....

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  1. The most obvious (as in 'did you make sure the radio is plugged in?') is that excess tart indicates a lack of sweet. That is, unripe fruit.

    Next up would be use of a reactive pan, such as aluminum, iron or copper (unlined). For cooking or overnight storage.

    Could it have gone bad? Yes, but most ways it goes bad do not result in a tart taste. And one that might is fermentation. Surely you would have noticed if it was fizzy.

    And I trust you rinsed off the tomatoes before cooking.

    Otherwise, I look forward to further posts.

    5 Replies
    1. re: SteveT

      Why would you leave tomatoe's at room temp at all?
      You have to proceed with the recipe, or the will go bad.

      1. re: Amy G.

        With all due respect...roma tomatoes DO NOT go bad quickly at all. I would sooner put my first born male child in the refrigerator than a tomato - particulary a roma. They have very thick skins and a low water content so will happily sit at room temperature for days - sometimes longer. At the moment I have a basket full of the things in my kitchen where they continue to ripen as I wait to have enough of them to make something big. In fact, in the winter, when I just have to have a tomato, I will often buy romas and, even though they are quite hard and pale, they will ripen nicely and after a week or more will be better than anything else you can buy in the off-season (sorry for the run-on sentence).

        As for the sauce question - a well-cooked tomato sauce will not go bad in 2 hours at room temperature. 12 hours, maybe. 24, even more probably. But 2? That's simply being phobic.

        1. re: Nyleve

          That's what I got from the OP...they let the cooked tomatos sit out for at least overnight. I would not have done that.

          1. re: danna

            Honestly - I don't think it would go bad that quickly. And almost definitely that wouldn't have been the cause of the tart flavour either. Overnight is perhaps pushing it a tad, but truth be told I've done it (usually by accident) and as long as I bring it back to a boil when I serve it, I don't worry. A chicken dish I'd be concerned about. But tomatoes have so much inherent acidity and sauce has been cooked so long that is really has quite a lot of resistance to bacteria.

            1. re: Nyleve

              You're probably right. I was thinking about this thread last night as I was eating some of the last of my garden tomatoes. Like myself, they have become somewhat bitter with the approaching fall.

    2. If the sauce tastes too tart add some sugar. Tomatoes differ in their sweetness and amount of juice. Roma tomatoes are used for sauces because they are less juicy. Try to never leave any food out at room temperature over 2 hours of making it. And, if there is any indication that it "tastes bad" throw it out.

      2 Replies
      1. re: deborah

        This may sound like a stupid question but if all we're talking about here are boiled tomatoes, does it really make much of a difference if they're left out? I realize that it's advisable to refrigerate foodstuffs, but how is this any different than leaving a bunch of tomatoes out on your counter overnight?

        I'm half asleep - and as I'm asking this question I'm thinking I'm missing something extremely obvious so I'll brace myself for the responses! hahaha

        1. re: Koring

          We can assume that if these tomatoes have been boiled then the skin is no longer intact. The tomatoe "meat" is now open to all sorts of microbes. It is sort of like you cutting your finger and getting all sorts of microbes into your body. You have white blood cells to fight off infectious agents. The tomatoes don't. But, refrigeration will certainly slow the multiplication of "bad bugs" in the tomatoes. The acidity of the tomatoes will help decrease the microbial count to a degree.

      2. They ahve not gone bad or picked up a bunch of scary microbes, they are just tart, and were not sweet to begin with. Add a bit of sugar and taste. See if they need a bit more, boil a bit adn then can or freeze.

        1. Just curious, did you taste the sauce on Saturday morning after you made it? If yes, how is the tartness now compared to when you first made it? I have just realized why many recipes call for simmering tomato sauces for hours with no meat or anything. My husband hates tart tomato sauces so I used to add quite a bit of sugar...then I used a Sunday Gravy recipe and the cooking and simmering for hours really mellows out the tomatoes and I only had to add very little sugar at the end.

          Margret

          1. Tomatoes don't go overnight bad at room temperature, but sauce left out for 24 or more hours sure does. I'm appalled that others are suggesting you should go ahead and use it, with or without boiling. That's just plain nuts.

            1. Usually there would be other tell-tale signs that tomatoes go bad (and yes, if the room was warm it IS possible for tomatoes to go bad once they were partially cooked). The signs to look for - fermentation bubbles on the surface and the "off-sour" smell. This is really what starts to happen to your tomato sauce if it sits out too long partially cooked - it begins to ferment (think sourkraute - that is exactly what goes on, and yes, it gets tart - just like sourkraut gets tart).

              If it is gone bad - it is beyond salvation. Taste is the best guide.