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When Are Tomatoes in Season?

By Team Fetch

April 4, 2024

The tomato is a real trooper – it gives us everything from pizza to pasta sauce, and it’s packed with healthy goodies such as potassium, vitamin C, and antioxidants. Where would we be without it?

Well, we’ll luckily never need to find out. Peak tomato season runs from May through October, but they’re grown year-round in greenhouses and sales remain relatively unchanged throughout the year with a slight spike in March and again from July to October. You might see a slight dip in prices as tomato season winds down in late September and early October, but that’s usually all.

What with tomatoes being such a perennial favorite, we at Fetch thought we’d bring you the skinny on how they’re best picked, stored, and enjoyed – we’ve even put together a few recipes to help you get the most from this flavor-packed superstar.

If you’re yet to benefit from Fetch, there’s never been a better time to download our grocery app, snap your receipts, and start picking up points you can put toward free gift cards.

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Is Tomato a Fruit or Vegetable?

Is tomato a fruit or a vegetable?

Yes. Well… sort of both, but technically a fruit.

You see, fruits come from the natural life cycle of flowering plants. Once a flower is pollinated, a fruit develops to protect and surround the seeds – the fruit is then spread by animals or the environment. Vegetables have a slightly looser definition – they’re simply the edible portions of a plant, be it the leaves, roots, tubers, bulbs, stems, or flower of the plant.

As a fruit grown to protect the plant’s seeds, tomatoes are indeed a fruit. However, they are often referred to as vegetables by nutritionists due to their relatively low sweetness and the way they’re served.

Information about tomato season in the US

Do Tomatoes Grow on Trees?

Native to Central and South America, tomatoes can now be grown all over the world. Here in the US, you’ll find most grown commercially in Florida and California. All of them grow on vines – there’s no such thing as a tomato bush or tomato tree. It’s just that plants can be described as either vining tomatoes or bush tomatoes based on the shape they take on as they mature.

How Long Do Tomatoes Last?

How long a tomato lasts will depend on how you store them. Ripe grape or cherry tomatoes will:

  • Last around 10 days when stored between 45 to 60 °F with a relative humidity of 95%.
  • Last 1 to 2 days when stored between 60 and 75 °F.
  • Last around 5 days when refrigerated below 41 °F.

It is not recommended that you store tomatoes above 75° F.

How to Pick a Tomato at the Grocery Store

There’s a world of difference between a truly top-tier tomato and one that turns out to be mushy, mealy, or bland. But you’re in luck – following our tips can help you pick out the cream of the crop whether you’re browsing at Whole Foods or patronizing your local farmer’s market.

The best tomatoes should:

  • Be firm but not too hard when they’re a smaller variety
  • Feel heavy for their size and be neither too solid nor too soft when they’re a larger variety
  • Be free from hard or pale spots, bruises, or cracks, especially near the stem
  • Be shiny with a smooth, uniform skin
  • Have a floral smell that’s close to fresh basil
  • Have a bright to dark red color or a solid yellow or orange color if you’re picking up different varieties at a farmer’s market

Signs to help you recognize ripe tomatoes

What is an Acceptable Method for Washing a Whole Tomato?

Fresh-cut tomatoes will have been washed before processing and can be considered ready-to-eat, but whole tomatoes may need to be washed before you enjoy them. Do so under running, potable water that’s around 10°F warmer than the temperature of the fruit itself. Don’t leave them in standing water to soak, wash them with soap or detergent, or scrub them with a brush.

How to Store Tomatoes

Peak-season tomatoes are too good to waste, and all it takes is storing them correctly to ensure that doesn’t happen. Let’s break down what you need to do.

How to Store Ripe Tomatoes

Tomatoes that are perfectly ripe and ready to eat should be stored on the kitchen counter at room temperature away from direct sunlight. Placing them upside down is a cool hack to keep them plump and juicy. Smaller varieties should go in a shallow dish to provide proper airflow.

How to Store Overripe Tomatoes

Cold temperatures make ripe tomatoes mealy, hard, and flavorless, so you should only store overripe tomatoes in the refrigerator. Keep them for one or two days at most to slow the ripening process, then allow them to return to room temperature before consuming.

How to Store Unripe Tomatoes

Speed up the ripening process by putting unripe tomatoes in a paper bag in a single layer, then loosely closing it and storing in a warm, dry spot. You can speed things up further by adding a banana or apple.

How to Store Cut Tomatoes

Tomatoes must be refrigerated once cut to prevent spoilage and ward off bacteria. Cut tomatoes stored in an airtight container can be kept in the fridge for about 2 days.

Tips for storing tomatoes

Can Dogs Eat Tomatoes?

It’s not a big deal if your dog snags a tomato from your plate while your guard is down, but they should only eat the red fleshy parts. Ripe or unripe tomatoes are bad for man’s best friend, and they should also be kept from nomming on the leaves, vines, blossoms, or stems – these can all make your dog sick.

Can Cats Eat Tomatoes?

Your cat is fine to sample a small piece of fresh, red, ripe tomato, but keep in mind that our cute little feline companions are obligate carnivores with no need for plant-based food. As with dogs, they shouldn’t consume unripe or overripe tomatoes or any other part of the fruit, such as the leaves or stem. Commercial tomato products, such as ketchup and canned tomatoes, should also be avoided.

Easy Tomato Recipes

The brilliantly versatile tomato is the base for a whole host of mouthwatering dishes and tasty treats, and turning the produce you buy into your own tomato paste, juice, or sun-dried tomatoes is a great way to punch up meals while saving on store-bought products – just make sure to use our receipt app for those larger purchases to earn the most rewards possible.

Here are just a few of our favorite ways to transform tomatoes.

How to Make Tomato Paste

Whether used for a healthy spaghetti sauce or to bring extra umami flavor to a stew, tomato paste is a kitchen staple you’ll always want on hand. Slow cooking your own creates a rich, hearty flavor and offers the added benefit of making your home smell absolutely wonderful.


  • 10 lbs. tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid or 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice


  1. Divide your oven into thirds by arranging two racks, then preheat to 350°F.
  2. Cut your tomatoes into quarters.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  4. Add tomatoes, then cook until they become soft and the peels start to come away from the flesh.
  5. Push tomatoes through a food mill, chinois, or sieve to separate the pulp from the seeds and skins.
  6. Stir sea salt and either citric acid or lemon juice into the pulp, then discard or compost the skins and seeds.
  7. Divide pulp between 2 large baking sheets, then bake until reduced by more than half to become a paste. This should take 3 to 4 hours.
  8. Transfer to jars and either preserve in a water bath, refrigerate, or freeze.

How to Make Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Brimming with flavor and a darn sight cheaper than what you’ll find at the store, homemade sun-dried tomatoes can kick up anything from pizza to salad to sandwiches, and the recipe is surprisingly easy.


  • Fresh cherry, grape, or plum tomatoes
  • Sea salt
  • Olive oil (optional)


  1. Prep your tomatoes by slicing them in half lengthwise and spreading evenly cut-side-up across a parchment-covered baking sheet. If you’re using plum tomatoes, you’ll also need to remove the pulp.
  2. Season with sea salt.
  3. Slow roast in the oven at 250°F for 2.5 to 3.5 hours, checking towards the end to ensure they don’t burn.
  4. Serve right away, refrigerate for up to 4 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

How to Make Tomato Juice

Handy for homemade V8 or a cheeky little Bloody Mary, making your own tomato juice is also a great way to use up any tomatoes you won’t be consuming the old-fashioned way. It’ll last about a week in the fridge, but you can also freeze it in a quart zip-top freezer bag for up to a year.


  • 3 lbs. very ripe garden tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups of chopped celery (with leaves)
  • 1/3 cup of chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • One or two shakes of Tabasco sauce ( 6 to 8 drops)


  1. Put all your ingredients in a large stainless steel pot, then bring to a simmer and cook uncovered for 25 minutes until the mixture becomes completely soupy.
  2. Force through a fine-mesh sieve, food mill, or chinois.
  3. Cool completely before enjoying.

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Topics: Food and Drink, Shopping Lists


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