Even if your preferred tomato consumption method is “biting into it like an apple,” there will come a time in your life when you will have to peel a tomato. Perhaps you will be processing your summer haul, or simply making a little marinated tomato salad. But you will arrive at a moment when those skins need to come off.
How you should peel your tomatoes hinges on how immediate your naked tomato needs are. Luckily, there are three easy methods for getting those skins off (and then, save the skins and make tomato salt for extra credit).
How to peel a tomato
Use the classic blanch and shock, if you want to preserve flavour and texture
We originally covered this classic “hack” all the way back in 2012. It’s the most widely used method for removing the skins from tomatoes (and stone fruits) and it’s quite easy — if a little steamy. As we explained previously, all you need is a sharp knife, a pot of boiling water, and an ice bath:
Just bring some water to a boil, and before you drop the fruit in, make a small X in the bottom of the peaches or tomatoes. Then drop the fruit gently into the boiling water and let it blanch for about a minute (less for more ripe fruit, longer for less ripe, whatever it takes to loosen up that skin!) Take the fruit out and drop it immediately into a bowl full of ice water. The ice water stops the cooking process, and when the fruit is cool enough to touch, you can pull the skin right off.
This is the method I use with my favourite tomato salad, or any other recipe that features raw, naked tomatoes. The tomatoes don’t stay in the hot water long enough to adversely affect their flavour or texture, and the plunge into the ice bath keeps them from cooking.
Stick them in the freezer, if you’re feeling lazy
This is the method to use if you find yourself with a glut of tomatoes, as it requires very little work on your part. You don’t need a pot of boiling water or an ice bath, and you don’t even have to make a little “x” in the top of the fruit.
Place whole tomatoes directly in the freezer, where they will keep for a whole year. When you’re ready to use them, run them under hot water, rubbing them gently until the skins slide off. Toss them into sauces or any other recipe that calls for peeled tomatoes. I would not, however, eat them raw — freezing causes the water in the fruits to expand, rupturing the cell walls, which makes them a little mushy. (You won’t notice it in a sauce, but you would notice it in a salad.)
Torch ‘em, if you only have a few
Bringing a pot of water to boil to peel two or three tomatoes may, to some, feel like overkill, but you can harness the power of fire to get very similar results. Besides swapping water for fire, the procedure is pretty much the same: Make a little “x” on the bottom of the fruit, then grab it with tongs and slowly rotate it over an open flame (stove and kitchen torch work equally well). Once the skin starts to peel back from the fruit, plunge it into ice water or run it under the cold tap. Peel the skin away and proceed as usual.
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