Monday, September 14, 2009

There's Only One Way to Skin a Tomato: a Tutorial

At least I think that there's only one way. Maybe only one good way, and a lot of lousy ways (tiny little paring knife? Fingernails? Sandpaper?)

Note to my friend Betsy, who is made nauseated at the sight/smell/taste of raw tomatoes in anything but their pristine, whole, unviolated form--don't read this post.

You will need:
  • loads of tomatoes (I skinned a good twenty pounds of tomatoes from the farmer's market yesterday)
  • a big pot of boiling water
  • a nice big colander that fits well within the big pot (you can work around this, but a nesting colander is by far the easiest way)
  • a big bowl of cold water (ice water is the best, but I can't stand to waste the ice, so I just use cold water)
  • paring knife and cutting board
  • second bowl for tomato cores and skins for the compost pile

1. Rinse your tomatoes off, then cut out the little woody core at the top and any funky/mushy/brown spots.

If you do this, you don't need to score the skins, as well, because the hot water will slip in through the cut you've already made.

2. Fill your big pot about halfway with water and set it to boil, and fill your nesting colander about three-fourths full of the cored tomatoes. The boiling water will come up over the top of the tomatoes once the colander is fit down into the pot. 3. Fit your nesting colander full of cored tomatoes down into the pot of boiling water, making sure that the water rises to cover the tops of the tomatoes, and set your oven timer for one minute.If you don't have a colander that will fit into your pot, just dump the tomatoes right into the boiling water, and fish them back out with a slotted spoon. You risk stewing some of them a little this way, however, since some of the tomatoes will stay in that boiling water for longer than others. Another method is just to dump the whole pot, boiling water and tomatoes all, into a colander resting in the sink after a minute, but that's a waste of water and energy if you need to scald more than one batch of tomatoes.

4. The scalded tomatoes should look like their skins are about to fall off (don't look, Betsy!)----and you should be able to slip the skins right off with your fingers. If the skin of a tomato doesn't come off easily, pop it back into the cold water to soak for a couple more minutes while you do the other tomatoes.

And when you're done, you're left with these fine beauties:
Now it's time to make tomato sauce.


cake said...

you know i love this post.

i usually core AND peel, after the scalding/blanching. scoring an "x" on the bottom will help the skins loosen.

i used to leave them in the boiling water until i saw the skins start to split, but now i know it is best to leave them in for only one minute. any longer, and they start to cook, and fall apart in your hands.

Unknown said...

Something I learned is that you need the iced water to stop the cooking process. I too don't leave them in the hot water no more than a minute or more. This process is much more easier than using a paring knife. You can also use this process with peaches.

Anonymous said...

You're going to fall off your seat, but we've never done this before. Nope. We use the Lehman's best strainer...I should post a video of the kids working that thing...and it works like a dream. Plus, the chickens get all the pulp (which my kids lovingly call "poop" can tell I have boys) and they're crazy about that!

julie said...

If I was making something like salsa, I'd probably be a lot more diligent than I am about the ice water--for spaghetti sauce, I can only hope that the little extra cooking the tomatoes did allowed me to only cook my sauce for 7 hours and 58 minutes instead of 8 hours--somebody should have told me how long spaghetti sauce takes! And how much it reduces!!! Twenty pounds of tomatoes and 4 pounds of onions for 3.5 pints of sauce!!!!