Peeling Tomatoes the Easy Way – Just Like Mom Does

Need to know how to peel tomatoes easily? It’s easy, but is it necessary? Read on to find out how to do it (and to hear what I think about peeling tomatoes).

Have plenty of tomatoes? Try this recipe for tomato chutney! (It’s delicious!)

One of the most common questions people ask on my recipes is “do I need to peel the tomatoes?” Here’s the deal. I’m the Queen of Shortcuts. If there’s a way to cook real food at home in less time, I’ll find it. Skipping the chore of peeling tomatoes is one of those shortcuts for me in many cases. 

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If I’m making a product that required tomatoes to be chopped or pureed, like salsa or pizza sauce, I’ll simply skip the peeling part. For crushed or stewed tomatoes, though, I do remove the peel. Those larger pieces of skin tend to roll up into weird little lengths that I find unpleasant in recipes. 

peeling tomatoes with an ice water bathHow to peel tomatoes

When you have a large harvest, the easiest way to do this chore is with the boiling water method. Basically, you’ll submerge whole, ripe tomatoes in simmering water and then plunge them into an ice water bath.

This loosens the skin of the tomatoes, making it a breeze to just slip them right off.

3 red ripe tomatoes with a thin X slashed in them

Start by cutting a shallow X in the bottom of the tomato. This step isn’t entirely necessary, but the slits in the skin will give the peels a place to start separating from the fruit.

tomatoes simmering in a pot

Drop the fresh whole tomatoes into boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds. The skin will begin to appear a bit wrinkly.

peeling tomatoes with an ice water bath

Lift the tomatoes from the hot water with a slotted spoon, transferring them to a bowl filled with ice water. After 30 seconds or so, remove each tomato from the water individually and use your hands to slip the skin right off the fruit.

Once peeled, you can use the fruit in any recipe you like.

tomato on a slotted spoon, skin wrinkly and peeling away from the fruit.

Another way to skin tomatoes

Have you ever frozen whole tomatoes? Yep! You can do that! And a funny thing happens when you do. When you remove the frozen orbs from the freezer and allow them to come to room temperature, the skin just slips right off. You can hasten this by dropping the frozen tomatoes in a sink full of room temperature water. That makes two easy methods for peeling tomatoes! 

Tomatoes that have been frozen like this will be quite soft once completely thawed but they’re perfectly fine for adding to all of your favorite recipes, like pasta sauce or chili.

tomato on a slotted spoon, skin wrinkly and peeling away from the fruit.

Peeling Tomatoes the Easy Way

Try this easy method for removing the skins from tomatoes. Use peeled tomatoes in canning recipes or to make homemade marinara sauce.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 1 varies
Author: Kris Bordessa, National Geographic author/certified master food preserver

Equipment

  • Deep stock pot
  • Slotted spoon

Ingredients

  • Vine ripe tomatoes

Instructions

  • Start by bringing a pot of water to a low boil. Use a wire strainer or large slotted spoon to lower tomatoes into the hot water so you don't burn yourself. Add just as many as will fit, allowing all of the fruit to be submerged.
  • Leave tomatoes in the simmering water for 30 to 60 seconds, or until the skins appear to be wrinkling slightly.
  • Use the wire strainer again to lift the hot tomatoes out of the pot and transfer them to a sink or bowl of ice water.
  • Allow tomatoes to sit for another 30 seconds or so. You'll see the skin begin to visibly fall off of the flesh.
  • Remove each tomato from the water individually and use your hands to slip the skin right off the fruit.
  • If you have more tomatoes to skin, repeat the process.

Notes

  • Have you ever frozen whole tomatoes? Yep! You can do that! And a funny thing happens when you do. When you remove the frozen orbs from the freezer and allow them to come to room temperature, the skin just slips right off. You can hasten this by dropping the frozen tomatoes in a sink full of room temperature water. That makes two easy methods for peeling tomatoes! 
Did you make this recipe?Mention @attainablesustainable or tag #attainablesustainable!
Originally published in October 2019; this post has been updated.

 

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About the author: Kris Bordessa is an award-winning National Geographic author and a certified Master Food Preserver. Read more about Kris and how she got started with this site here. If you want to send Kris a quick message, you can get in touch here.

12 comments… add one
  • Faye Sep 7, 2023 @ 12:20

    Do you leave the seeds in all the tomatoes, irregardless of type of tomato?

    • Kris Bordessa Oct 10, 2023 @ 14:09

      The seeds can be left in or removed with a food mill or chinois.

  • Paula R Bolton Sep 7, 2023 @ 6:22

    do jars need to be sterilized prior to filling? seems I have read this before.

    • Kris Bordessa Oct 10, 2023 @ 12:44

      Jars only need to be sterilized if they will be processed for LESS than 10 minutes.

  • Judy Aug 16, 2023 @ 8:10

    Not a comment but a question. Instead of canning salsa, would it work to make the salsa, but it in freezer-safe jars and freeze?

    • AttainableSustainable Aug 17, 2023 @ 7:48

      Yes, it should work fine!

  • Cynthia Thacker Jul 9, 2023 @ 7:47

    when should I cut the “X” on the bottom of the tomatoes, before or after placing them in hot water?

    • AttainableSustainable Jul 13, 2023 @ 11:15

      Before.

  • Virginia Boyd Aug 1, 2022 @ 6:41

    Will tomatoes peeled by this method be good used on sandwiches?

    • AttainableSustainable Aug 2, 2022 @ 4:26

      They’ll likely be on the soft side for a sandwich, this is mostly meant to be used for canning or sauces.

  • Cara Smith Nov 13, 2019 @ 2:56

    I’m guessing you mean to let them boil for 30-60 seconds, not minutes, correct?

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 13, 2019 @ 7:21

      Ack! Yes! Thanks for alerting me to this; I’ll fix it now.

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