We’ve seen some pretty persuasive evidence convincing us to keep tomatoes on our counters rather than tossing them in the refrigerator. But now, culinary director Daniel Gritzer at Serious Eats has spent his summer researching and documenting whether we should rethink this wisdom.
Gritzer ran 11 tests covering several different types of tomatoes. He brought in additional testers for most of these tests, and states that “everyone but the server tasted blind.”
Here are his main takeaways:
- While it’s true that tomatoes kept around 70°F keeps quite well on your counter, that’s not room temperature in the real world. Room temperature during peak tomato season is usually 75°F or higher, which will cause your beautiful, ripe tomatoes to over-ripen pretty quickly.
- Previous tomato-storage tests have all used supermarket tomatoes, not the super-nice ones you get straight from the farm (or your garden). Supermarket tomatoes are picked while they’re green, so they can be shipped—that makes a huge difference.
- Gritzer’s conclusion is that good tomatoes that are perfectly ripe don’t benefit from additional countertop time—in fact, they start to deteriorate. He argues that perfectly ripe tomatoes are actually best kept in the refrigerator, then brought to room temp before eating.
The entire piece is well worth reading if you want to see the test results in-depth, and see exactly how Gritzer reached this conclusion.
But what about eggs?
Meanwhile, on the egg front, we’ve briefly touched on differences in how we keep eggs in the U.S. versus how they’re kept elsewhere. NPR’s The Salt has an in-depth exploration of why our methods of keeping eggs are so different from the rest of the world’s.
Here’s the lowdown:
- Eggs naturally have an exterior coating when they come out of chickens. That means that if you leave it intact, the egg basically protects itself. These types of eggs are the ones that many European and Asian countries (minus Japan, which washes its eggs) leave sitting out on the counter.
- Countries that wash their eggs, such as the U.S. and Japan, must keep their eggs refrigerated to keep bacteria at bay. Washing eggs removes the protective barrier. But the U.S. and Japan don’t wash eggs for no reason—it’s their chosen method of protecting against salmonella, which can infect chickens and be passed on through their eggs.
- Some European countries vaccinate their chickens against salmonella, which is a different way of doing the same thing. The U.S. doesn’t require this step, and instead requires constant refrigeration for eggs, along with additional safety measures.
- Not every country has the resources for the kind of temperature-controlled supply chain needed to consistently keep washed eggs refrigerated.
Some of the international egg debate is also down to aesthetics. Poultry veterinarian and International Egg Commission scientific adviser Vincent Guyonnet told The Salt, “In North America, we like to have everything superclean. So they probably initiated the washing of the egg very early on.”
But Guyonnet also adds that in a lot of places, “a dirty egg with poop on it is no big deal. You brush it off when you get home.”
The international egg storage debate probably isn’t going away anytime soon, but reading this piece will help you understand it better.