Blasphemy, you're thinking, right?
We've all Many of us have heard to never, ever store tomatoes inside the fridge. Serious Eats tests, however, suggest that there are times you will want to break this rule.
The site's culinary director, Daniel Gritzer, put dozens of tomatoes to the test in two series. For the first one, he found that regular supermarket tomatoes do taste better on the countertop compared to the fridge after one day of storage. However, after two days, the ones from the fridge tasted better. He theorizes this is because the definition of "room temperature" is usually between 68 and 73°F, but often real-world kitchens are warmer than that. This has a negative effect on the tomatoes:
So while at a cool 70°F a tomato may well stay in optimal condition for several days on the counter, in my real-world kitchen, the tomatoes peaked in ripeness after their first day of room temperature storage, then began to get too ripe, losing flavour and texture in the process. The refrigerated ones, meanwhile, were protected from those damaging heat effects.
The exact details of these results will vary, of course, from kitchen to kitchen.
In a followup test, using ripe, better quality tomatoes from the farmers' market, the results were the same, if not more pronounced. (See image above.)
How you should store tomatoes will depend on the temperature of your kitchen, whether the tomatoes are under-ripe, and perhaps the quality of the tomatoes. Check out the full article for recommendations, and never say never to storing tomatoes in the fridge.