Do Sun Dried Tomatoes Go Bad

Sun dried tomatoes are a favorite ingredient for many cooks thanks to their intense, robust flavor. The process of drying tomatoes in the sun removes moisture from the fruit, causing them to shrink considerably in size while concentrating their natural sugars.

This preservation method allows sun dried tomatoes to be enjoyed long after the tomato season has ended.

However, as with any food, sun dried tomatoes are not impervious to spoilage. With improper storage, they can certainly go bad over time. So how long will sun dried tomatoes last? What are the signs they have spoiled? And what’s the best way to store them for maximum freshness and longevity? Let’s take a closer look.

Sun Dried Tomato Shelf Life and Storage

When stored properly in a cool, dry place away from light and heat, high-quality sun-dried tomatoes can maintain freshness for:

  • 3-6 months at room temperature
  • 6-12 months in the refrigerator
  • 12+ months in the freezer

# The freezer will give sun dried tomatoes the longest shelf life. Refrigeration is also effective for extending their usability compared to room temperature storage. However, both refrigeration and freezing can cause the tomatoes to lose some of their texture over extended periods.

# For storage at room temperature, seek out packs that are vacuum sealed or contain antioxidant rich olive oil to prevent moisture loss and rancidity. Place the sealed packs in an airtight container and store in a cool cupboard or pantry space, avoiding areas near the oven, stove, or in direct sunlight.

# In the refrigerator, store sun dried tomatoes in their original packaging in the crisper drawer where temperatures and humidity remain stable. The acidic tomatoes should not interact with or absorb odors from other refrigerated foods.

# For long-term freezer storage of up to 1 year, remove dried tomatoes from packs and place in heavy-duty freezer bags, pressing out excess air before sealing. Label bags with contents and dates. The freezing process may cause some texture loss but will maintain flavor. Thaw dried tomatoes overnight in the refrigerator before using.

Signs Sun Dried Tomatoes Have Gone Bad

While sun drying helps tomatoes stay edible for months, there are some signs to look out for that indicate the drying process did not fully preserve them or improper storage has caused spoilage:

  1. Mold growth: Any visible mold means the tomatoes must be discarded, as mold can produce mycotoxins even if cut away.
  1. Slippery or slimy texture: Dried tomatoes should be hard and dry to the touch, not pliable or moist feeling.
  1. Discoloration: Tomatoes should retain an intact reddish or pinkish color rather than becoming extremely dark or spotted.
  1. Yeasty or sour smell: Properly dried tomatoes will not give off unpleasant odors. A smell indicates bacterial breakdown.
  1. Softening: Over time, tomatoes may soften slightly but should never become completely soft or mushy.
  1. Presence of insects or larvae: Storage pests usually mean an infestation that ruins the whole batch.
  1. Changed flavor: Spoilage bacteria destroy fresh tomato flavor, making it dull, muted, or bitter tasting.

If any of these signs are observed, it’s best to throw out the suspect sun-dried tomatoes rather than risk consuming spoiled product that may cause illness. When in doubt, it’s not worth the risk.

Preparing and Serving Sun Dried Tomatoes

Throughout their storage lifetime, sun dried tomatoes retain flexibility in the kitchen. Here are some popular preparation and serving ideas:

  • As is – For maximum flavor intensity, simply slice or chop refrigerated dried tomatoes and toss into pasta, rice dishes, salads, or on bruschetta.
  • Rehydrated – Soften hard dried tomatoes by simmering them in boiling water or broth for 5-10 minutes until supple before using.
  • Chopped – Coarsely chop both fresh and rehydrated tomatoes as an accent in all kinds of savory recipes.
  • Pureed – Blend reconstituted tomatoes with oil in a food processor for an easy spread or pasta sauce.
  • Baked – Brush dried tomato halves with oil and bake at 350°F until heated through as a side dish or appetizer.
  • Stuffed – Fill creamy or herbed cheese into the centers of larger dried tomatoes.
  • Flavor booster – Simmer chopped dried tomatoes in sauces, soups or stews for a full-bodied punch.


Sun dried tomatoes add character to everything from pasta to pizza, polenta, risotto, quiche, omelets, salads and more. Their natural antioxidants make for a highly nutritional and versatile ingredient when properly prepared and stored for freshness. With the right handling, sun dried tomatoes can enhance recipes for months at a time.


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