If you unpack all of your fresh groceries straight into the refrigerator, a new study suggests you're making a big error. While the icy conditions are usually beneficial for prolonging the life of fruit and vegetables, researchers at The University of Florida have found that keeping tomatoes in the fridge could do more harm than good.
The study, which was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that tomatoes stored at chilly temperates undergo irreversible genetic damage that changes their flavors. If you've ever wondered why that plump tomato tasted so good at the farmer's market but seemed dull and tasteless days later in your salad, this could be why.
Lead researcher Harry J. Klee told The New York Times the subtropical fruit appears to go into shock when stored at around 41 degrees Farenheit—roughly the same temperature as a refrigerator. When the fruits were taken out of the fridge to warm up, some genes in the tomatoes appeared to have "turned off and stayed off."
The solution? A tomato's flavor changes as soon as it's picked from the vine, so growing them yourself will produce the best tasting fruit. Otherwise, keep store-bought tomatoes well away from the refrigerator and stash them in a bowl at room temperature. Your salad is about to get a whole lot tastier.