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How To Tell if a Tomato Has Gone Bad

Tomatoes are a juicy and refreshing fruit. They are mostly used as a vegetable when being used in a recipe but because they start from a flower and contain seeds they are actually identified as fruit.

When I think of tomatoes I immediately think of BLT sandwiches and refreshing green salads. Whenever you add tomatoes to a dish it gives it a more refreshing flavor that I just love.

If you have had tomatoes in your fridge for a week or longer you may be wondering how to tell if they have gone bad or not.

Whatever variety of tomatoes you have they all carry the same characteristic when they have gone bad.

Whether you have cherry tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, or vine-ripe tomatoes they will all look, feel and smell relatively the same way when they have gone bad.

In this post, I am going to go over all of the signs of a tomato gone bad.

tomatoes gone bad on a cutting board

Best ways to tell if tomatoes have gone bad

Before you start cutting into a tomato to make that homemade salsa or tomato sandwich you want to make sure that your tomato is healthy and hasn’t gone bad.

The best way to know if your tomatoes have gone bad is by inspecting them first. You want to pick them up and look them over, feel them, and give them a good sniff.

If anything is off about the way your tomato looks, feels, or smells then you will want to toss it out.

Check out my post on How to tell if salsa has gone bad.


The most obvious signs of tomatoes that have gone bad are if they have a fuzz of white, green, or grey mold growing on them. Sometimes they will even be oozing liquid.

Whether you are dealing with whole, sliced, or diced tomatoes these all are signs of tomatoes gone bad no matter what form they are in.

If you notice that your tomato is starting to look like a little old person with wrinkly skin then you should discard it. It may not be to the point of mold or oozing yet but you still do not want to eat it.

You want to follow all these steps before you cut a tomato.

How it feels

When trying to decipher if your tomato has gone bad pick it up and give it a light squeeze. A good ripe tomato will have a slight squish or give to it.

If the tomato is soft and squishy like a stress ball feels like it is going to pop in your hand then it has spoiled and you should throw it away.

Sometimes you might not notice that it is leaking liquids from inside just by looking at it but when you pick it up and it leaks on your hand it’s time to throw it out.

This also goes for other vegetables like how to tell if celery has gone bad or how to tell if a cucumber is bad.

How does it smell

Tomatoes that look and feel fine, chances are that it is! But just to be sure you might want to give it a quick sniff. The smell of a fresh tomato has a light earthy smell to it. Any musty, moldy, or sour smell you will want to discard the tomato.

The same goes for tomatoes that have been sliced and then refrigerated. A good way to tell if sliced tomatoes are to smell them as well.

Best ways to store tomatoes

Tomatoes that are kept at room temperature tend to have a fresh taste to them whereas when they are refrigerated the taste diminishes a little. With that said tomatoes that are kept chilled will last you twice as long.

I have a post that goes into how to store tomatoes and also one that covers how long do tomatoes last that I suggest you also check out.

It is important to not store tomatoes with ethylene-producing produce as they will ripen and spoil a lot faster. This goes for in the fridge or sitting out on the counter.

It is ideal to keep tomatoes left out on the counter and they should last about 5-7 days before they start to turn bad. Be sure to keep them out of the sun and in a dry area.

If you aren’t going to get to them and you are afraid that they are going to spoil then you can certainly store them in the fridge. When storing tomatoes in the fridge they will last you closer to two weeks.

The produce drawer in your fridge is a great place to keep your tomatoes so that they last longer. Crisper drawers are designed to keep moisture out and allow the fruit to stay fresh longer.

Learn how to freeze tomatoes for longer storage in our comprehensive guide.

A great refreshing recipe that really makes the tomatoes stand out is my grilled chicken tacos! Give them a try and let me know what you thought!

What happens if you eat a bad tomato?

Eating tomatoes that have gone bad will make you sick and can give you food poisoning from bacteria such as Salmonella. It is not recommended to eat tomatoes that are bad.

When should you not eat tomatoes?

If you suspect that your tomato has gone bad in any way then you should not eat it. Look it over, feel it, and smell it to make sure that it is healthy.

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