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How to Peel Tomatoes

Created March 10, 2017
Peeling tomatoes may sound like a chore, but it doesn't have to be that hard or messy. Try it our way, then have fun with tomato recipes!

Peeling tomatoes may sound like a chore, but it doesn't have to be that hard or messy.

Peeling tomatoes. It can be a bit messy and not terribly fun, but tomatoes with the skin on can distract people from enjoying an otherwise great dish.

Why peel tomatoes? For starters, tomato skin is a rough texture when compared to the guts of the tomato. For cold dishes, you are probably used to eating a fresh tomato with the skin on, but what about stews or other hot dishes with cooked tomatoes?

Some items like salsas also use peeled tomatoes. Peeling the skin off will let you and others enjoy the flavor of the tomato without getting distracted by the leathery skin.

Luckily, peeling tomatoes doesn’t have to be messy. I probably still wouldn’t say it’s terribly fun, but one out of two isn’t bad. The process is pretty simple: score the tomato, dip in boiling water, cool it and peel.

Check out this quickie vid, then follow my step-by-step below:

Let's Get Started

Start by gathering the items you’ll need:

  • A paring (small) knife

  • A pan with enough water to cover the tomatoes you want to peel

  • A bowl with ice water – enough to cover the tomatoes

  • Tomatoes (of course)

Wash the tomato and remove the stem if present. Turn the tomato upside down and make a ‘x’ by gently scoring the tomato on the underside. This will aid in peeling the tomato after the next few steps.

A Hot Dip...

Bring the water in your pan to a boil. When the water reaches a rolling boil, place the tomato in the water using a soup ladle or large slotted spoon. Keep in mind you aren’t trying to cook the tomato — you are just trying to soften up the outer layer of skin so you can easily peel it off.

Only leave the tomato in the boiling water for about 10-15 seconds, using shorter time for smaller tomatoes and a few seconds longer for larger tomatoes.

...Then a Cool One

Remove the tomato from the boiling water and immediately place the tomato in the ice bath. This will quickly stop the tomato from cooking any further. Remember what I said about peeling tomatoes being messy? If you leave your tomato in the boiling water too long or don’t bother cooling it off, you’ll have a pretty mushy tomato to peel.

Let the tomato sit in the ice bath for 15-30 seconds — any longer and the tomato may get mushy. Once the tomato has cooled off, take it out of the water and try to peel back the skin from the bottom of the tomato where you scored it earlier.

If you have issues pulling it off with your fingers, try using your paring knife. Gently get your knife under the skin and peel it that way. The peel should come off pretty easily at this point. Repeat the process for any other tomatoes you have, and you should be good to go.

Now you can use the tomato for whatever your recipe calls for—cutting them up and stewing them or dicing them and using them cold.