What Are the Best Tips for Peeling Tomatoes?

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  • Written By: Eugene P.
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 15 March 2018
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Many recipes call for tomatoes to have their skins removed before being added to a dish. Although the most popular process of quickly submerging the tomatoes in boiling water and then picking off the skin might seem fairly foolproof, there are occasions when a few extra tips can help to mitigate any problems that can arise. Cutting a small starting point in the tomato skin before boiling, making sure the tomatoes have boiled for enough time, and using sufficiently cold water can all combine to ensure that the skin comes off easily. There also are other, sometimes easier, methods of peeling tomatoes, depending on the style in which they will be prepared. Defrosting frozen tomatoes will yield much the same results as boiling them and, in sauces in which tomatoes will be ground, many food mills will automatically separate the skins, making any other method of peeling tomatoes unnecessary.

The easiest tip for peeling tomatoes when using boiling water is to cut a small X shape on the bottom center of the tomato. This will provide a place to start peeling the tomato and give the skin a small amount of freedom to retract from the flesh. In some instances, it even allows a little boiling water to get between the flesh and skin and loosen it further.


When actually placing tomatoes into boiling water, the water should be at a vigorous rolling boil, and it should stay that way. Adding too many tomatoes at once can lower the temperature of the water significantly, so the tomatoes are only gently boiled instead of quickly blanched. This means it will be difficult peeling tomatoes that were not exposed to water that hot enough, because much of the skin will remain firmly attached to the flesh after boiling.

Once the tomatoes have had their time in the boiling water, some methods have them immediately being shocked in ice water to cause the skin to quickly contract. This can work well as long as the water contains ice and is kept very cold between batches of tomatoes. The heat of the tomatoes can eventually raise the water temperature and melt any ice it contains, so this must be monitored as closely as the boiling water is watched. It also is not always necessary to shock the tomatoes, which can be allowed to cool on their own on a counter if not needed immediately.

Peeling tomatoes before freezing them is not always necessary. When the frozen tomatoes are thawed before use, the skins will naturally pull away from the flesh and can be removed just before being added to a recipe. This works best with fresh tomatoes, and they need to be allowed to thaw at room temperature.



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