How to Peel Tomatoes

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© 2013

Having cooked in various capacities and for over 40 years I tend to take certain things for granted. I think we all do. We don’t mean to do so but we all get so accustomed to doing what we do that we forget someone may not know how to do that which we think is simple.  We forget that someone had to teach us the most basic of things. Hence, the reason for this post.

How many times have you come across a recipe requiring you to use peeled tomatoes? What a pain. Why bother peeling a tomato? I remember asking myself this very question when I first started learning how to cook. So what if there is a little skin? They come with skin. What’s the big deal?

Well, to start with, the big deal is a textural deal. Tomato skins are tough, like cellophane. They float on top. You see them in your meal. They stick to your teeth and the roof of your mouth. It’s one thing if you are eating everything raw, like in a sandwich. It’s another thing entirely when you are making a soup or a sauce. In a soup or a sauce you really need to peel the tomato and in many instances seed it, too. Seeding a tomato seems rather self evident but someone new to cooking may not know how to peel a tomato. I mean, they’re not like a banana or even an avocado. Doing it with a knife is such a chore and wasteful, unless of course you are making tomato skin rose garnishes – another post for another day. So how do you peel a tomato? Well, you follow these easy steps.

First, bring a pot of water to a boil. Do NOT add salt, just regular tap water.

While the water is coming to a boil, cut a cross in the bottom end (the opposite end of the stem end) of the tomato.

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© 2013

When the water comes to a boil, drop the tomatoes in the boiling water.

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Allow the tomatoes to sit in the boiling water for 20 – 30 seconds. The limited exposure to the boiling water just cooks the flesh immediately below the skin without cooking the rest of the tomato. Remove from the water and allow to cool.

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Grab the skin on one of the cross cuts and peel.

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Continue to peel until completed. Viola! Peeled tomatoes ready to use. Simple and quick.

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© 2013

9 thoughts on “How to Peel Tomatoes”

  1. Good post Richard, it’s important to share the basics as well.
    The only thing I do differently is that I plunge the tomatoes in cold water to stop the cooking and cool them more quickly.

    1. Hi, Stefan. Thanks for the comment. I have shocked the tomatoes after boiling as well. Because of the mass of the tomato, it cools pretty quickly so I stopped shocking it as I felt it was an unnecessary step. I decided to do this post when I was making the cream of red chile soup and needed the peeled tomatoes. It was then I realized that a lot of people out there did not know how to do this. Then I remembered how the light bulb went on when someone showed me this technique. At that point I had to share.

      1. I usually include tips like that within the post, but I do end up repeating a lot that way and I am not always certain that readers pick up on such tricks to use in other recipes. So perhaps I should make more separate posts about technique.
        I suspect that you as a professionally trained chef would notice strange gaps in my technique if you were to watch me cook — since I am self-taught there are some things that I have a lot of experience and confidence with and some things that I don’t really know what I’m doing. Peeling tomatoes is one of those things that I’ve done as described by you from the start (because I read it in a book), but I remember it was taking an awfully long time in the beginning. Now it goes much faster, just like making ravioli by hand.

  2. A great how-to post, Richard. I know this process very well. I peel at least a half-bushel of plum tomatoes every August-September. I don’t look forward to the task but sure feel good when it’s done. 🙂

  3. THANK YOU! I love the fact you can teach/learn tricks from a gifted chef online! Personally, I work at peeling tomatoes because I don’t like the skin even in a sandwich! Sometimes, I want the peeling gone so bad, I just peel it with a knife like a potato! YIKES!
    I am doing my best to cook through your blog, but let me tell you… you are posting faster than I can cook! Am looking forward to several dishes in the near future! Since we are where it is warm and pretty for the next month, seafood and fish will be the focus! And, of course, lovely ripe tomatoes on sandwiches, perfectly peeled!!! 🙂

    1. Hi, Linda. We’re glad you are enjoying the blog. We try to post at least 15 recipes per month. Sometimes we make it and others we don’t. We had the chile relleno en nogada for dinner tonight. Hopefully, I can get that posted tomorrow. It’s a wonderful dish but you will need to wait until next fall when pomegranates are in season before you can fix it. It’s a traditional Mexican holiday meal.

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