In my previous post I shared a recipe/tutorial on how to dry tomatoes with a technique I read about in the Mother Earth News magazine. To see those instructions, click HERE. I have followed this technique several times now; the first time with just tomatoes, and the next few times I actually peeled and deseeded the tomatoes, then sprinkled them with sea salt and basil. So good.
Then I realized I was probably putting the cart before the horse, since a lot of people, including food preservation “newbies” don’t know how to peel and deseed a tomato!
So, without further ado, here is my method:
1. Gather all you tomatoes, look over them for any with large cracks or moldy spots and set those aside for your compost pile. Of course, you could always cut out the bad spots and proceed anyway, but from everything I have read, this is a no-no. I cut out the bad spots and then eat the rest of the tomato fresh, rather than waste 75% of an otherwise perfectly good tomato!
2. Bring water in a large pot just to simmering. You don’t need the water to actually boil, but make sure the water is deep enough to cover your tomatoes. If you are processing a lot of tomatoes, I have also found it handy to have another pan of hot water ready to replenish the first pot. Believe it or not, your water level will diminish quite quickly, which I assume is due to evaporation???!!! Anyway, while waiting for the water to get hot, get a bowl of really cold ice water ready, and have a back-up supply of ice on hand also.
3. Now comes the part where you have to choose: do you want to cut out the stem and core before you peel, or after? I chose to cut out the stem and core after because I don’t want my tomatoes to get too mushy. Once you have tried several methods, you will settle in to one you feel most comfortable with. Hop around the web – Google for “methods of peeling tomatoes” – and you will find 101 ways to do it.
4. Now, with the water simmering, carefully place a tomato or two into the water. Be careful that you don’t just plop them in because you could get burned if the hot water splashes on you! I like to use my slotted spoon for this. Once you have a couple of tomatoes in the water, roll them around just a bit to make sure all of the peel has contact with the hot water. Keep them in the hot water for about 15 to 20 seconds. The “ABC” song is about 20 seconds long – just in case you don’t have a timer!
5. After the 15-20 seconds, immediately plunge the tomato into the ice water and roll it around a bit in there. Once the tomatoes are in the ice water you can place two more tomatoes into the hot water. When those tomatoes are ready for the ice water, plunge them in and the first two tomatoes should now be cool enough to set aside. Once you get your rhythm going, it doesn’t take very long to prepare several pounds of tomatoes for peeling.
6. After all of your tomatoes have been prepared for peeling, you will need to gather a few items. I use a bowl to gather all the peel and the seeds along with all of that jelly-like stuff, a good paring knife and a cutting board. About now you will notice that a lot of the tomato are already starting to peel and curl on their own. Good! Just start peeling away, throwing the skin into your compost bowl. In my experience with this you may come across a tomato where the skin doesn’t peel very easily. It seems that those with sunburn or the ones that aren’t totally ripe have more resistance to peeling in the sunburned or unripe areas. I usually just cut the unpeeled area away.
7. Now you will need to core the tomato, which means simply to cut out the stem and that hard part right under the stem. They make specialized equipment for this – I just use my paring knife, cutting at a slight angle. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Once you do a couple of them, you will get the hang of it!
8. To deseed the tomato, the easiest way is to just cut the tomato in half crosswise. In other words, pretend that the tomato is the earth. The north pole is the stem end and the south pole is the blossom end. You need to cut the tomato around the equator! Oh, by the way, I think I should mention that there is no need to adjust the color on your monitor – I am using my beautiful Golden Sunray heirloom tomato for demonstration purposes!
After you have peeled and cut a few tomatoes in half, check to make sure you aren’t getting tomato juice all over the place. Last week I had already peeled, cut and deseeded several pounds of tomatoes before I realized I had an actual puddle at my feet! 😉
I was “in the zone”!
8. Once the tomato is cut, just use your index or pinky finger to scrape and scoop away all of the seeds and jelly. If your tomato is nice and firm and you really really don’t want any seeds, you can carefully rinse the tomato under gently running water, then place it cavity side down on paper towels to drain.
Below is a picture of what I was able to accomplish in about 1/2 hour. Not bad, eh?
If you have any suggestions for a good meatless pasta/spaghetti sauce recipe that cans well – please leave the recipe or a link to it in the comments below – I would sincerely appreciate it!
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