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It’s tomato season! Learn how to peel tomatoes to make the most of them. They’re great for using in all sorts of canning and cooking projects.
Ever since I got the canning bug a few years ago, I try to put up a large amount of tomatoes to last us through the winter. The quantities and recipes change as we continue to figure out what we like best (and what we’ll use most), but the satisfaction remains the same.
If you are a canner you know what I mean. There’s nothing like hearing the ping of the jar sealing, seeing your tidy rows in the pantry, or cracking open a sweet summer preserve in the dead of winter.
I shared some of my tips in my post about bulk tomatoes and canning, but I realized I’ve never done a post about one of the most important steps in tomato canning: how to peel tomatoes!
While peeling the tomatoes might seem like a lot of work when you’re staring down 20 pounds or more, it’s an essential step in many canning recipes. Once you learn how to peel tomatoes, you’ll be surprised how easy it actually is!
It really only takes a few minutes of work. Once you have a system down for organizing your counter space you can peel pounds and pounds of tomatoes very quickly.
I like to set up my counter so I can move the tomatoes from station to station easily. For me that means a cutting board, a large bowl for cut tomatoes, a large bowl of ice water, and the pot on the stove. If I’m lucky I have a kitchen helper (i.e. my husband) to make the work go faster, but I have a good rhythm for how to peel tomatoes myself.
All you need to do is cut a shallow “X” in the bottom of each tomato, boil them briefly, and dunk them in ice water. Heating and then shocking the tomatoes in this way makes the skins peel right off! But be careful to not boil too long, otherwise the tomatoes will start to cook and get too soft to handle easily.
It’s up to you whether you want to core the tomatoes before or after peeling. For me, it depends on the tomato. If I am canning paste tomatoes like San Marzano or Roma, then I core when I am cutting the X. Their cores are generally easy to remove with a simple circular cut with a paring knife.
For larger standard tomatoes I core after peeling. I feel like it’s easier to core after I’ve halved the tomatoes. But again, it’s up to you!
Why learn how to peel tomatoes, anyway? Well, because peeled tomatoes make for the smoothest pasta sauce, ketchup, and barbecue sauce, and because plain canned tomatoes require peeling before processing.
Don’t want the peels to go to waste? Dry them in the oven and then pulverize them for a tasty tomato sprinkle you can add to your favorite recipes.
- Ice water
- Set a large pot of water on the stove to boil while you prepare the tomatoes.
- Turn tomatoes over to the bottom and, using a paring knife, cut a shallow X in the bottom. Core tomatoes, if you like.
- Carefully lower tomatoes into the boiling water, in batches. Remove after about 30 seconds, once skins start to crack.
- Immediately put tomatoes into the bowl of ice water.
- Once tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel skins from tomatoes and use in your favorite recipe.
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