Tomatoes: Skinning And Seeding

No matter what you plan to do with your glut of tomatoes, you will need to process them first.  There are many ways of preparing them and Stitch and Boots will work to compile a number of different methods.  This one is a classic and is called for in many canning preparations such as making sauces, juice, and salsas.

Peeling and seeding your tomatoes is ideal if you’re going to make sauce, salsa, or can diced tomatoes.  I didn’t use to think it was necessary to peel or seed my tomatoes (thinking it was a colossal waste of time…) until I made my very first batch of tomato  sauce without doing either.  The seeds are juicy and covered in a gelatinous membrane that doesn’t reduce when being cooked so that a sauce that’s full of them doesn’t ever get that pleasing thick consistency that is the ideal.  I know this because I’ve done it!  Similarly, if you you don’t peel your diced tomatoes you will end up with curls of peel floating in your soup or your casserole which, while not the end of the world, will prevent your food from reaching a state of excellence.

Peeling and seeding your tomatoes does take some time, but is not at all difficult to do.  You’re going to need:

1.  A large pot of water.

2.  A slotted spoon to place and remove tomatoes from the boiling water.

3.  Paring knife.

4.  Lots of ice to put in a big bowl. 

5.  (And a big bowl.)

 cross cutting 2

  • I never buy sprayed tomatoes so I don’t wash them first.  They are going to be boiled and skinned so a little dirt isn’t a concern.  However, if your tomatoes are especially dirty, muddy, or coated in pesticides, you will want to wash them first.
  • Before you set your water to bowl or put the ice out you will want to score the blossom ends of all your tomatoes.  Simply use your paring knife to cut an “x” in the skin.  This will help you slide the skins off easily after blanching the fruits.

coring 2

  • Then you want to core them all.  Some roma tomatoes barely have a core and in this case you may just want to slice the very end off.  If the tomatoes are a little tough further down, definitely core them.  I usually core and score each tomato but you can do all the scoring first and then all the coring- whichever way seems the most streamlined to you.
  • When you get 3/4 of your tomatoes cored and scored, put the pot of water on to boil.  Then fill a bowl with ice and some cold water.
  • When the water is boiling and your tomatoes are all prepared, put a few tomatoes in the pot at a time.  If you are processing slicing tomatoes only put 2 or 3 in the pot at a time, if you are processing romas, put about 6 of them in the pot at a time.  If you put too many in the pot at once it will bring the temperature of the water down so far that it will not start boiling again for longer than you want your tomatoes in the hot water.  When you see the water recover to a boil you let the tomatoes blanch for 30-60*  seconds.  It is good to gently stir them with your spoon to make sure all the skin surface of the tomatoes has been submerged.

icing toms 2

  • Remove each batch from the boiling water straight into the ice bath.  Let them cool down while you put more tomatoes in the pot.  Then remove the cooler ones and put on your counter or in another large bowl.  I like to get all of them blanched before working on slipping the skins off and seeding.

loose skin 2

  • Once all your tomatoes are blanched, slip their skins off.  Now put the tomato in the palm of your hand, over the sink or a compost bucket and gently squeeze until most of the seeds have come out.  This can be messy so wearing an apron is recommended.  Don’t worry about getting all of the seeds out.  Just concentrate on getting the bulk of them out.

seeds pressed 2

  • When you have squeezed the seeds out your tomatoes will be a little flat.  This makes them easy to chop.  Now you’re done.  You can either chop them for salsa, sauce, or freezing for later, or you can leave them whole.

It takes some time to process tomatoes but you will find that there are circumstances where you will be well rewarded by your efforts!

*An exact time isn’t important.  If you do a search for information on how to peel tomatoes, you will find all different times being recommended.  15 seconds may not be enough to loosen the skins, and you definitely don’t want your tomatoes boiling for more than 60 seconds or they will really start cooking and breaking down.  Start off timing yourself for about 30 seconds.  Once you have a feel for it, don’t worry too much.

11 thoughts on “Tomatoes: Skinning And Seeding

  1. Michelle

    This is my all-time favorite method for preserving tomatoes; especially the Romas and San Marzanos. We just keep them frozen in portions equal to one recipe worth of tomato sauce, and enjoy summery goodness all winter long :-)

  2. stitchy1

    You know, I usually can my tomatoes but they really do freeze exceptionally well! So what little I do this year (almost over!) I will freeze mine too.

  3. mss @ Zanthan Gardens

    Thanks for the really clear instructions. The photographs help, too. I’ve never done this and we get so few tomatoes over the summer that I doubt that I ever will. But I’ve always been curious about the process. So thanks for explaining it so well.

  4. Ellen

    The photos are helpful. I froze some tomatoes last year…this year, my garden was awful, so no tomatoes. I’d like to try canning, but am a tad nervous.
    Off topic…I noticed that you also make ricotta. Do you make yogurt too? I’ve been thinking about trying to make my own yogurt – should I get a machine?

  5. Jen

    I’m so glad I came here before attempting this. I never thought about taking the seeds out…
    We have a cherry tomato plant that has become so out of control I’ve named it Audrey III (in honor of Little Shop of Horrors…). I pulled about 5 lbs of tomatoes off yesterday. My only option is to process them! It should be tons of fun to do this with all those small tomatoes, sigh.

  6. stitchy1

    Hey Jen- I’m glad this was useful. But before you try making sauce from all your cherry tomatoes please check this recipe out: I haven’t managed to get it uploaded here but I put it on my other blog last year and I highly recommend it. It’s a really tasty way to use a lot of cherry tomatoes in one go. Best of all: fast and easy which is perfect for a brand new mama.

  7. kurleysue

    We have a bazillion cherry and grape tomatoes. This year (my first) I have canned larger tomatoes with much success, but I have not read to much about these smaller ones. Do I still have to peel and skin each one? Could I cook them down and then strain the skins off after they have cooked?

  8. stitchy1

    You absolutely can cook them and then mill out the skin! Good for you for canning some tomatoes this year! I love doing it. It is certainly a bit of work but I always feel glad I put in the time when I get to use those tomatoes later.

  9. Lori Schumacher

    I squeeze the seeds and juice out into a bowl and then strain into a bowl to get the juice and can for homemade tomato juice. The recipe is in a book called ‘Canning for a New Generation” and that way I only waste a VERY small amount of a bushel basket of tomatoes. Fresh bloody mary’s anyone?

  10. angelina Post author

    I did that last year but didn’t freeze the juice fast enough and it went a little vinegary. If I get to do tomatoes this year (hopefully this Friday) I may do that again but get it in the freezer really fast.

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