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Aug 18, 2006 03:29 AM

my tomatoes are getting ripe too soon

It's Thursday night, and I have 15 lbs of cherry tomatoes that I would like to be perfect on Sunday. When I bought them at the farmers' market yesterday they seemed far from ripe, but they're getting pretty good right now. What can I do to slow down the ripening so they're perfect on Sunday? One website suggested putting them in the fridge, but I thought that would harm their texture in addition to slowing down the ripening. Should they be left open or covered? Room temperature or fridge? Thanks.

BTW, they're going to be tossed whole with fresh mozzarella (either the bocconcini or the regular size cubed) and pesto for a salad. A local downtown lunch place (Cafe Madeleine, for you San Franciscans) has cherry tomato - mozzarella - pesto salad on hand all the time and it seemed like an ideal low-maintenance dish for a summer open house for 100+ people.

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  1. Do NOT refrigerate them. It is a travesty to do so. Tomatoes can stay at peak for several days, unlike fruits, so I would see what they are like on Saturday. I keep my tomatoes for a week, and we only get them ripe to begin with. BUT if they have gone too far, I am not aware of any way to slow them down that won't ruin them.

    1. Refrigerating tomatoes doesn't slow ripening, it ENDS it. It also "shuts off flavor compounds" (this from Alton Brown).

      Personally, as an avid gardener, I don't think that your tomatoes are going to become inedibly over-ripe in 3 days, so I say you shouldn't worry about it.

      I would MUCH rather have a tomato that was picked 5 days ago than an unripe, store-bought monstrosity.

      As a side note: I live in an area that produces the bulk of the tomatoes you find in stores. They're harvesting now, and you can't go down the highway without seeing dozens of tomatoes on the shoulder -- they've fallen off the trucks. I tell you, the things are as indestructible as they are inedible.

      Your good, homegrown tomtatoes will be just fine on Sunday.

      1. Oh, wait, I just say that you have 15 (!!!!!) pounds.

        Spread them in a single layer. That's the best thing you can do. Else, many will get crushed.

        1. put them stem side down in room temperature put them on a flat open surface like a plate, tray, as opposed to a bowl, mine usually last several weeks

          1. absolutely. When I have lots, I put some paper towels on a cookie sheet and lay them stem side down (room temp of course). The stem side down is an important tip I learned last year which makes a huge difference; that's the least ripe part and this way they don't tend to smush. They should easily last a week this way. One or two may start to "leak" (that's what the paper towel is for) but they should be good.