Food Safety Issues/Tomatoes


I have a pot of tomatoes that I peeled, seeded, chopped and cooked for about 3 hours. They have been off and sitting for 2.5 hours and the pot is still very hot to touch. I would like to go to bed and plan on making a sauce with these tomorrow and resume cooking for a few more hours. There are no other ingredients in the pot. Will these be ok until morning when I can pick the cooking back up or refrigerate?

Hi Sally,

The recommendation is to divide the mixture into smaller, shallower containers that will cool off quicker then refrigerate until ready to reheat.

While most tomatoes have a pH below 4.6 some do not.  What is so magical about 4.6?  That is the pH that can support the growth of harmful bacteria.  Below 4.6 harmful bacteria do not grow, but at or above they do. To be on the safe side the recommendation is to refrigerate the cooked tomatoes, bringing the temperature down to 41 degrees within 6 hours.

Hope your tomato sauce turns out fantastic.


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Carol Schlitt


I can answer questions on home food safety, sanitation and home food preservation.


I am a former Extension educator, nutrition, wellness and food safety, having retired August 1, 2010. I am a food safety instructor for the Illinois Department of Public Health, a ServSafe Instructor/Proctor and have my own company, Safe & Savory Solutions, Inc -

National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (Past President and current Historian), St. Louis Culinary Society.

BS - University of Illinois MS - Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

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