Posted on 14 August 2010 by

How and Why to Peel Tomatoes

peeled-tomatoBy David Harbilas

There are certain tomato tasks that are no-brainers.

Slicing and dicing seem fairly self-explanatory.

Pureeing requires a little more effort and technology.

But peeling tomatoes leaves some people scratching their heads.

Tomatoes are obviously not like carrots or apples, and unless you are faced with a very hard, inedible tomato chances are a vegetable peeler isn’t going to do you very much good.

Luckily, there is a method to peeling tomatoes that is so easy that it makes peeling carrots or apples look like hard labor. Yet it still requires a little time and effort, and that begs another question: why bother?

Tomatoes are so fascinating, and one of the most interesting things about them is their multi-faceted nature. There is a bit of bitterness in the skin, a bit of sweetness, sometimes, in the seeds and water, and a little of both in the flesh. The flesh is the most poetic of parts of the tomato, as without the skin or seed it cannot contain any of the tomato’s mystery or joy. In the next post we’ll look at a use for peeled tomatoes.

  • Three vine-ripe, globe-shaped tomatoes
  • One medium-large saucepan of boiling water
  • A large bowl of ice water

In the bottom of each tomato, opposite the plug end where the stem was attached, cut an X in the skin, without cutting very far into the tomato. Drop each tomato into the boiling water for about 20-30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and immediately submerge into the ice water. With a pairing knife, pull the skin off each tomato. To seed the tomatoes, cut cross-wise and gently squeeze the seeds and juice out, without breaking. Or, if you’re making filets, cut each tomato into quarters lengthwise and cut around the “core,” following the curve of the tomato, leaving a flat, petal-shaped filet.

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