How to Peel and Seed Fresh Tomatoes

by formerchef on August 20, 2009

Post image for How to Peel and Seed Fresh Tomatoes

I love my garden, I really do. And I think the fresh tomatoes were quite possibly the best thing about it. But late in the season, due to some insects eating the leaves and the blazing summer sun, I got some really ugly tomatoes. uglytomatoesThese were not the picture perfect ones seen in previous posts, but rather, they were sunburned and splotched, and a few, were slightly chewed on. But like all children, they are still beautiful on the inside, and perfectly edible (ummm, ok, not like children).
So, what to do with my unattractive fruit? I can’t give them away, I’d be too embarrassed. The answer is to cut away and peel off all the ugliness. Then, they are pretty again and ready to be made into sauce or soup. If you just try and peel a raw tomato you will find yourself participating in an exercise of frustration. That’s why I thought I’d share this very simple and quick way to do a large batch all at once.


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Preparing the Tomatoes:

First, using a sharp knife (I prefer a serrated one for tomatoes and tend to default to one of my steak knifes for this task), core out the stem and make an “X” on the bottom of the tomato. In some cases, I cut off the entire sunburned top of the tomato.


Blanch and Shock the Tomatoes:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice and cold water.

When the water is boiling, gently lower the 7-10 tomatoes into the pot of water. I use a large slotted spoon/spatula to do this so as to avoid splashing boiling water on myself. Trust me on this. I only do 7-10 at a time because the tomatoes only need 15-30 seconds in the water, so you want to be able to get them all out fast before they start to cook inside. The goal is to loosen the skin, not cook the tomato.


Once the skin on the tomato starts to wrinkle or pull apart (15-30 seconds), quickly remove them from the boiling water using tongs or a slotted spoon and put them in the ice water to stop them from cooking (this is called “shocking”).
Leave them in the ice water for 15-30 seconds and then take them out and put them in another bowl. 
Repeat the process with the rest of the tomatoes, until they have all been blanched and shocked.


How to Peel Tomatoes:


Easy. Pick up the tomato. Once you’ve blanched it, the skin should just slip right off.

Seeding the Tomato


I like to do this over a strainer to catch the seeds and reserve the juice. Conversely, you could just do it over a bowl and strain it all later.
Pull or cut the tomato apart and push out the seeds. When finished, add the reserved juice back into the peeled and seeded tomatoes.
My goal is to get out as many seeds as possible with the realization it’s impossible to get them all.





What to do with them now?

I’ve put some in the freezer for later, I could make more of the tomato soup I made a few posts back, but with this batch I’m probably going to make some Marinara Sauce .


{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mom August 20, 2009 at 8:41 pm

I have jars. I have a canner that is crying out for those tomatoes, a little garlic, (OK a lot of garlic), some herbs and voila, marinara canned and ready to store or give to friends.


2 Chef Gwen August 20, 2009 at 9:21 pm

Great tips! Great photos, and technically, I think you are still in the Summer Fest finale week celebrating all things tomatoes.


3 formerchef August 20, 2009 at 9:26 pm

Yes, I am in the last week of Summer Fest! I did put comments on a few of the main blogs. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to participate in the other weeks.


4 jaden August 21, 2009 at 5:11 am

WOW – look at those bright red tomatoes!!! My fav part is the squishy squishy get the seeds out action. Makes me feel like a kid!

until i have to clean up…then i feel like a mom again 😉


5 formerchef August 21, 2009 at 6:47 am

Thanks Jaden, you bring up a really good point; when seeding, wear an apron! It’s amazing how far those seeds can squirt!


6 Jessi Stensland December 4, 2011 at 9:40 pm

Jaden – totally! While doing it i was thinking – how much fun kids would have doing it, helping out in kitchen! When I have them…for sure ; )


7 Anthony2816 September 23, 2009 at 11:49 am

Why seed and peel tomatoes? When I use them in a sauce, I just removed the stem, dice them up, and put them in. The simmering of the sauce softens the seeds and diced skin nicely, and you aren’t wasting the nutrients in either.


8 formerchef September 23, 2009 at 12:03 pm

Sometimes I do the same. But some recipes call for a more refined sauce and depending on the tomatoes, sometimes they are very seedy and some tomatoes have thicker skins than others. It’s a useful cooking technique to know.


9 Robin November 7, 2009 at 1:16 am

Another reason, at least for me, is that the seeds in tomatoes where I live make the sauce bitter.


10 Nicknack October 15, 2010 at 12:10 pm

This is probably a silly question, but why do you have to strain out the tomato seeds? Would it be a bad idea to have them included? (is there any nutritional value in them?)

Thank you for sharing your techniques!


11 formerchef October 15, 2010 at 12:26 pm

I take out the seeds for both texture and flavor reasons. My homegrown tomatoes tend to have a lot of seeds and I just don’t want them in my soup and too many can give it a bitter flavor. Not certain about any additional nutritional value.


12 TrueStoryBro July 1, 2015 at 1:40 am

The human body does not digest tomato seeds. They have no nutritive value and pass directly through. In fact, this is one of the ways that waste disposal engineers study current flow – by determining where tomato plants grow in waste outflows.

They’re also gritty and bitter so many people prefer sauces without them.

Skins do have some nutrients but, being skin, they’re membraneous and hard to chop. Can make for an unpleasant eating experience.


13 genny65 August 13, 2011 at 7:49 am

Great instructions. So easy to follow. I am simmering your marinara sauce recipe as we speak. What a great way to spend a Saturday morning. :)


14 Casey B August 15, 2011 at 2:49 am

My peeled, seeded tomatoes don’t seem to have nearly as much juice as the ones in your picture. I was careful to retain the juice and even pressed the juicy mixture in my strainer to get all the juices out. Is that going to be a problem when I make my sauce?


15 formerchef August 15, 2011 at 6:16 am

Casey- I don’t think so, but every variety of tomato is different so that could explain why you didn’t have as much juice. It also could be that they weren’t ripe enough (especially if you used store bought tomatoes which are usually picked green). Once you start cooking them, they will cook down and release more juice, but you will need some to get it started.


16 M Davis August 15, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Thanks so much for the “”seeding information.” I’ve always wondered how to seed them BECAUSE of the problem
of ”diverticulitis”……..This info has been so so so much help……………


17 Katelyn August 16, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Just discovered your blog as I was wondering what to do with the 50 tomatoes I picked out of the garden. Thanks for posting and making this SO easy :)


18 M Davis August 16, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Also, I love ‘marinara sauce’ and because of this website, i learned how to make it from
scratch from my home grown tomataoes…..Usually, I only made home-made-vegetable-soup from
my home-grown tomatoes; but, I promise you that I’ll make the ”marinara” sauce from scratch
and then let “you-all” know how it was………..Thanks Again for all the info………….M. Davis, Lumberton, N. C.
P.S. Thanks for the info that “”Roma”” tomatoes have ‘less’ seeds than regular tomatoes……..


19 Berneda August 28, 2011 at 7:26 am

Hi. This sauce looks great. My question is I have four different tomatoe plants and some are ripe and some are still coming. How many tomatoes (not cups) are you using in this recipe so I know when I get started? Thanks so much.


20 formerchef August 28, 2011 at 7:50 am

Berneda-I can’t tell you how many tomotoes because if you have 4 different plants they could be all different sizes and weights. For example, some of my Bradywine tomatoes weigh over a pound and some of my celebrity tomatoes range from a few ounces to 8 ounces each. You can peel and seed the ones you have which are very ripe right now and then refrigerate or even freeze them until you have enough to make sauce.


21 Sarah September 8, 2011 at 7:57 am

Just found your blog on Google. You are my tomato savior! This year, with the heavy rains and other weather anomalies, our tomatoes are all “ugly” but incredibly tasty (as evidenced by the nibble marks in most of them). Looking forward to my first venture in seeding, skinning and souping some tomatoes!


22 Ioana October 15, 2011 at 3:41 am

I use the seeds for making fresella or frisella. It depends on the region.
I mix the seeds with some olive oil, origano and salt and put it on the fresella . Sometimes they like also to put on some house made tuna. It is a good apetizer.


23 Jessi Stensland December 4, 2011 at 9:44 pm

Thanks for this! After 35 years and Italian upbringing, making marinara from “scratch,” tonight I hesitated b4 buying cans out of habit…thought why wouldn’t I just use fresh? Googled. Found this. Walked over to the produce section, bought tomatoes, and voila, fun night playing w food and making a great pot of sauce. Hmmm. Now to make fresh pasta…….
Jessi Stensland recently posted..Interview // Zen and the Art of TriathlonMy Profile


24 formerchef December 4, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Glad you enjoyed it! I do have a recipe for fresh pasta too… 😉


25 NateW April 19, 2012 at 8:59 pm

Thank you very much for this and the marinara sauce instructions. They are quite well done and I appreciate the effort you put into them. Between these two I’m hoping to make a lot of sauce this summer/fall :)


26 Monica Reinhart July 17, 2012 at 10:16 am

I’m soo happy I found you on Google. The marinara recipe sounds wonderful and I intend to freeze…I don’t know how to can and I wont have to worry about botulism. I appreciate your instructions on how to peel and seed as I’ve never done this before. I think we’ll be having pasta for dinner. I’ll bet this is soo much better than buying canned pasta sauce and I have too many roma tomatoes to count. Now I have a wonderful use for all of them. Thanks again.


27 Carolyn Steed August 27, 2012 at 1:06 pm

After diligently searching for the best marinara sauce I came upon your site and I’m excited. My husband works at a tomato factory that specializes in the finest tomatoes for restaurants etc. He is a maintenance engineer for the machines. He literally brings home a case of tomatoes a night and I really wanted to make a great sauce and put it up for the winter months. So here goes and I bet it will be the best you’ve ever tasted! Thanks to your recipe!


28 Sandra Fitasimmons September 30, 2012 at 7:09 am

What about the Victorio food mill? If this thing works, one could eliminate the the boiling water bath, ice bath, peeling and seeding. Tempted to buy one now for new year.


29 formerchef September 30, 2012 at 7:21 am

Food mills are a great option if your end result is a puree, but if you want a chunkier result, you have to peel and de-seed by hand.


30 Mmargie1966 March 7, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Excellent tips to peel and de-seed tomatoes! Thanks for a useful, thorough tip!
Mmargie1966 recently posted..The Thrill of Being a New GrandmotherMy Profile


31 Jennifer Thomas July 14, 2013 at 10:03 am

Wow.. Thank you for this.. I was looking at the 50 tomatoes on my counter thinking OMG!! this helps a ton!!


32 Ellen Gallup August 3, 2013 at 7:32 am

If tomatoes are peeled and seeded and frozen for later use, will the ice crystals that form make any difference as far as the extra liquid they produce?


33 formerchef August 3, 2013 at 6:40 pm

I’ve frozen them and never had any problems later. Any extra water just cooks off.


34 Jennifer Hamrick August 21, 2013 at 5:36 am

Thank you for this quick and simple tutorial! I’ve recently joined a co-op (Bountiful Baskets) and we can’t eat some of the produce before it spoils. I’ve recently learned how to dry parsley from an online source like yours and yesterday, I saw my tomatoes were on their last leg. I was already going to make spaghetti sauce yesterday so I just added another pot to the side, with the tomatoes cooking down until the majority of the excess liquid was gone, then added them to the sauce. Quite pleased with the results and the fact that there was no waste! Neat trick you have shared here!
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35 C Collins May 17, 2014 at 8:03 am

Mention was made of why remove seeds . There are those of us even seeking seedless tomatoes because of dietary requirements suggesting the elimination of all small seeds in combating diverticulosis / diverticulitis .
C Collins recently posted..Stocks 101-All About Home Made Meat, Fish and Vegetable Stocks and BrothMy Profile


36 Meg August 23, 2015 at 9:35 pm

Thanks for the instructions on peeling and seeding. The marinara was excellent, sans the bitter over tone. Have a cup of seeds left and will try to find a recipe for frisella. Did find one for a homemade French dressing that uses the seed goo that is left over. Excited about the prospect of using the seeds for something tasty!


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