Sometimes you just have to peel and seed your tomatoes. There are times that recipes call for them this way, or sometimes the peels are just plain tough and you don’t feel like eating them.
Peeling tomatoes is great for when you are making a sauce where you want to cook the tomatoes all the way down to a puree and do not want to strain the sauce for skins, or you want a softer texture.
By the way, there are recipes where the skins are lightly oiled and baked on non-stick surfaces to form a sort of “chip” that is used for garnish.
When you wish to avoid excess liquid in a dish or just don’t want those pesky tomato seeds, it’s best to seed the tomatoes. By the way, I find frequently that kids do not like tomatoes because of the seeds and skin.
No matter the reason, peeling and seeding is really quite simple, and pretty quick.
- Bring a saucepan of water to a boil.
- Use a thin sharp knife to cut an “X” at the bottom of the tomato. Do not cut into the flash, just slice the skin if possible.
- Use a knife and cut out the core at the top. Or not. (There are handy little tools that look like toothed melon ballers that actually work surprisingly well for this.) There are different schools of thought on this. I frequently find the skin is easier to remove when this is cut out, but not always.
- Once the water is boiling, carefully put the tomatoes into the water. Cook for 15 seconds or so, then remove them. Keep the water going in case you need to dunk the tomatoes again.
- Give the tomatoes a quick rinse in cold water to stop the cooking, and using a small knife, peel the skin off starting at the slits you made on the bottom. If the skin still seems very tightly attached, put the tomatoes back in the boiling water for a few seconds and repeat as above. Depending on the tomato, blanching time will vary. I think the skins differ from one type to another, plus I feel ripeness will effect how the skin adheres as well.
Seeding a tomato is as simple as slicing the tomato in half through the equator and shaking it, cut side down, over something to catch the juice and seeds, be it a sink or bowl. If the seeds are being obstinate, use a fingertip, chopstick end, or similar implement to loosen the seeds and remove them. If you are going to chop the tomatoes up and cook them down, just squeeze them when you shake them out. I like to reserve the liquid from the tomatoes for adding flavor to a dressing for a salad with tomatoes or a sauce, so I make sure to seed the tomatoes over a strainer.
How to Make Tomato “Filets”
Tomato “filets” are pieces of tomato that are just the flesh of the outer wall of the tomato. To accomplish this, cut the core from the tomato top, and then use a sharp knife to cut into the flesh at the top about a ¼ to ½ inch in, and cut downward, following the curve of the tomato, paring away a portion of the flesh without the softer inner parts and seeds. If necessary, use the knife to clean up the inside surface of the slice.
Once trimmed away from the fruit, the slices may then be cleaned up or cut into various shapes for other uses. Use the centers for making sauces or puree and use for making tomato water.