How would you store half a tomato?
August 24, 2009 9:32 AM   Subscribe

How would you store half a tomato?

Here's what I know about tomatoes: they aren't good in the refrigerator. Here's what I know about pathogens: they love exposed fruit flesh. So if I only want to slice half of a tomato, what do I do with the other half? Do I have to throw it out? That's what I always end up doing, and it just seems so wasteful. What am I supposed to do in this instance?
posted by Bleusman to Food & Drink (26 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Eat it. Mmmmm

If that's not an option, wrap the exposed side in Saran wrap and put it in the fridge. It should last for a couple days in there.
posted by DanW at 9:34 AM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Put it face down on a plate. I tend to put the whole thing in the fridge after cutting, even though I know I shouldn't.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:35 AM on August 24, 2009 [3 favorites]

I put it in a plastic container, one of those random cheap tupperware imitations. I have half a tomato waiting for me in the fridge right now, actually.
posted by idiopath at 9:36 AM on August 24, 2009

I do exactly what the Admiral does and I've never noticed anything bad about putting it in the refrigerator (cf. banana).
posted by Pax at 9:36 AM on August 24, 2009

Why do you not refrigerate a tomato? Did I miss some tomato rule? I feel dumb. If it's just that is messes up the taste, I'd rather eat a refrigerated tomato than either a moldy tomato or no tomato.

Put it in a ziploc baggie in the fridge? The only other option I can think of is "Make a salad."
posted by artychoke at 9:37 AM on August 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

Place it cut side down on a small plate. Leave it out. Eat it by the next day. Probably not the recommended method in terms of food safety, but we do it all the time and haven't died yet.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:38 AM on August 24, 2009 [3 favorites]

Sprinkle it with garlic salt and eat it.

Another alternative is to mix it into some sort of salad that is meant to be refrigerated, something with a lot of dressing or something where the tomato will soak up flavor rather than just go off. It won't be as good as a fresh room temperature tomato, but you won't notice it as much.
posted by grouse at 9:40 AM on August 24, 2009

Another vote for saran-wrap-and-fridge. Chilled tomatoes may be slightly blander and woodier than warm ones, but it's not like they're inedible or foul-tasting.
posted by yersinia at 9:42 AM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm with artychoke in that I had no idea there was allegedly some "Don't refrigerate a tomato" rule. Seems a bit nuts. I've been happily refrigerating cut tomatoes that had been tossed into a ziplock for years with absolutely no ill effect, and I agree that always tossing left over tomato is very wasteful and unnecessary. I mean, why are tomatoes so different from other fruits and veggies?

Apart from the obvious "Don't eat store things you're going to eat raw below uncooked meat that might drip on it" rule, I don't see how it would be a problem.
posted by gwenlister at 9:44 AM on August 24, 2009

If all you're doing with it is slicing it as a sandwich topping you should just wrap it in plastic. The flavor of tomatoes changes a bit when they get cold, but not so bad that you'd notice in a sandwich.
posted by wabbittwax at 9:47 AM on August 24, 2009

It's not a food safety rule, gwenlister, it's a food taste rule. says that you can keep sliced tomatoes in the fridge for 2–3 days, but they won't taste as good raw.
posted by grouse at 9:49 AM on August 24, 2009

Best answer: So if you put the half-tomato in the refrigerator, you have a half-tomato that has lost some of its texture and juiciness.

If you throw the half-tomato away, you have nothing. I'm not seeing the dilemma here.

That said, what I do with extra tomatoes is chop them and freeze them for use in future tomato sauces. If you have a big freezer bag of tomatoes, it's trivial to add chopped-up leftover bits.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:49 AM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you wash the tomato first and use a clean knife and kitchen, half a tomato sitting in a sealed bag or container at room temperature for a few hours probably won't spawn any terrible bacteria. I'm picturing a scenario like you slice some tomato for a sandwich in the morning, and come home and eat the other half on a salad with dinner.

That said, tomatoes are to avoid the refrigerator because their flavor will degrade if they go below 50 deg. The world won't end if you put it in the fridge. Most supermarket tomatoes don't have a very strong flavor, are bred for size and appearance rather than flavor, have been exposed to very low temps, artificial ripening agents and may have been picked by slaves.
posted by fontophilic at 9:50 AM on August 24, 2009

I just leave the other half on the counter and cut off the dried part when I next go to use it. I'm known for my dangerous lack of concern about food safety, though.

If pathogens are a real concern to you, I think I'd throw it in the refrigerator and next use it in a cooked application where the hit it takes to texture isn't noticeable.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 9:51 AM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

If I want just a couple of slices from a big tomato, I take them out of the middle, press the two halves back together, and pop it in the fridge like that. It sticks itself together...
posted by kmennie at 9:57 AM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

It's not a food safety rule, gwenlister, it's a food taste rule.

Since OP was mentioning pathogens I assumed food safety, but fair enough if it is a taste issue.
posted by gwenlister at 10:05 AM on August 24, 2009

I just finished eating a sandwich featuring a sliced-up tomato half that had been refrigerated in a zip lock bag for at least four days. I'm not dead yet, and it tasted fine.
posted by PunkSoTawny at 10:05 AM on August 24, 2009

Why do you not refrigerate a tomato? Did I miss some tomato rule?

posted by Jaltcoh at 10:18 AM on August 24, 2009

I sometimes keep a plastic container in the freezer and add various bits of couldn't-eat-it-then tomato to it. When I make a pasta sauce, I'll add (or use as the entire tomato contingent, if there's enough) the bits of tomato.
posted by amtho at 10:41 AM on August 24, 2009

Here's a counter-point to the "never refrigerate tomatoes" meme. In my experience, the flavour of a raw tomato is like that of wine, in that it depends highly on the temperature; refrigerating a tomato for a few days doesn't really change the flavour, as long as you let it come back up to room temperature before you eat it. (Comparing a tomato at 5° C with one at 20° C is not really a fair comparison.) This is anecdotal, of course — it'd be interesting to see a blind taste-test done on this subject. Alton Brown, take note.
posted by Johnny Assay at 10:57 AM on August 24, 2009

I cut the tomato in half then cut the very top off (where the stem is) and put it onto the bottom half. That way, there is very little exposed tomato. It lasts easily for 2 or 3 days in the fridge.

I've never heard of anyone thinking they had to throw out half a tomato just because they could not finish the whole thing in one sitting!
posted by whiskeyspider at 11:24 AM on August 24, 2009

The thing about not refrigerating tomatoes is more of a "for optimum flavor" thing. A couple days in the fridge in a tupperware container won't kill your tomato.

That said, sidhedevil's suggestion about keeping bits going in the freezer is actually kind of genius and I think I may start doing this.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:38 AM on August 24, 2009

I put it cut side down on a plate, invert a small bowl over it to keep the fruit flies away, and keep it on the counter. How long it lasts depends on how ripe it was.
posted by Caviar at 12:07 PM on August 24, 2009

I wrap it in saran wrap and keep it on the counter if I'm going to use it within like 6-8 hours. Then I get squeamish. But I'm sure there's no problem keeping it out longer than that. And I too, think sidhedevil's suggestion is awesome.
posted by kestrel251 at 1:39 PM on August 24, 2009

I would just eat the rest of it, I love tomato. "You know it's funny, the tomato never took on as a hand fruit."
posted by illenion at 5:15 AM on August 25, 2009

nthing the freezer as the best place for half a tomato - I abhor fridge tomatoes but don't like food wasting or food poisoning much, either.
posted by Bergamot at 1:30 PM on August 28, 2009

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