If you like the aroma of fresh tomatoes in your salad, don’t refrigerate them!

Tomatoes should be left at room temperature if they are going to be used within 2-3 days after purchase. They should never be sliced or peeled until just before you are going to serve them. The aroma is produced by the chemical z-3-hexenal, which is released when the tomato is sliced open. The aroma chemical only lasts at the “maximum aroma” level for three minutes before it starts to lose its scent.

If you do refrigerate a tomato the chemical becomes dormant, but if you allow it to return to room temperature before you slice it the aroma will still be active. If the storage temperature is below 500F it will interfere with the ripening process and stop it cold. Even if the tomato does turn from green to red it will still not be ripe.

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