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When do you seed/core tomatoes? When do you not?

I've rarely used tomatoes in cooking--just for salads so I'm confused about when (and why) to seed/core them. For example, when making salsa, my husband says one has to do this. Also, it seems, when making pasta with fresh tomato sauce. But the recipes usually only say "chopped tomatoes", not "chopped, seeded tomatoes", or is that always implied?

Is it just cosmetic to not want the seeds? Somehow it seems to me there's a lot of good flavor in all that goop inside the tomato and hate to lose it. (Also it's a lot of extra work.) So in what dishes is it generally ok to leave it in?

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  1. the seeds are bitter - it's not hard to remove them and the jelly along side is mostly water and u lose nothing by wasting it. first cut the top off the tomato - to get the blossom off - then cut a thin slice off the bottom (if it needs it) - then slice the tomato in 1/2 around its middle(between the top and bottom). Now , uve opened it up so all u have to do is reach in with ur finger and scoop it all out - or u can just squeeze it over the sink - and 90% of the seeds will squish out. U need the seeds for nothing i know of.

    1. You almost never need the seeds and water in a tomato, just like the seeds in a cucumber. Quarter (lenghtwise) the tomato and scoop/scrape out the stuff with a spoon. Half (lengthwise) the cucumber and do the same.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

        I like the seeds in cucumbers and am somewhat bummed when I'm served them skinned and seeded. Kind of flavorless. And as far as tomatoes, I only seed when the extra liquid would cause issue in a recipe. Oh - and I never peel potatoes.

      2. Seriously, if you like the taste of it, leave it in. I always do. I agree that it's a pity to waste all that tasty, flavorful goop. And the seeds don't taste bitter to me.

        Two conceivable instances when one might take it out: if the dish would be too moist with the extra juice or, as you said, for cosmetic reasons (tomato sorbet).

        1 Reply
        1. re: cimui

          Agreed. I've never known tomato seeds to be bitter. I almost always leave the skin and seeds on when cooking tomatoes, but like you said, there is a time and place for seeding and skinning.

        2. I take them out for anything where I'm eating the tomato raw, especially salads. The only reason why, is because the texture of that goop freaks me out.

          1. You lump together seeding with coring. I use tomatoes a lot and I rarely seed them -- mostly only for looks. I do, however, almost always remove a substantial portion of the core & stem end. Even on the tomatoes grown at home in the best of conditions the core and stem end rarely are tasty, though I suspect they do cook down to add some thickening power. I often use good quality canned tomatoes and I'll usually check them for larger bits of core too.

            I have not found that tomato seeds are particularly bitter, though they can visually detract from some dishes and when there a lot present they can effect the texture/smoothness of the dish.

            In most varieties of home grown tomatoes the watery bits carry a substantial amount of flavor -- several chefs actually prefer the subtle flavor of "tomato water" to any juice or sauce.
            I have found that tomatoes have a natural trilateral symetry -- if you cut them along the natural separations they basically fall apart. A quick flick then send all the insides into a strainer or colander with only a bit of effort

            1. If I'm laying sliced tomatoes on top of my mac'n'cheese, I'll leave the seeds and all in, but if I'm incorporating chopped tomato in the dish, stirred in with the macaroni, then I'll slide out the seeds and "goop."

              I have recipes for tomato sauce using canned tomatoes that tell you to remove both seeds and jellylike pulp before squeezing them dry and chopping them up. I have other recipes using fresh tomatoes that don't even call for skinning! I think you have to think about how you want the dish to come out and proceed accordingly.

              BTW, I have a hand-cranked tomato processing machine - Italian, of course! - that magically (and somewhat messily) separates the skins, seeds and "goop" from the solid pulp and then purées only the latter. If I had several rows of plum tomatoes planted and felt like canning sauce, I'd be in business...

              1. I always seed them as I do not like the texture of the jelly or the acrid bitterness of the seeds. However I recall reading that the nutrients are concentrated in the jelly. A quick google says that the Vitamin C is mostly in the jelly.

                1. I don't... the more you fiddle around with them the more of that delicious tomato juice runs away, and that's where all the flavour is - the outside is just pulp and it often tastes like cardboard! I feel cheated if somebody takes my tomato insides away... I DO cut off the top though, and remove any bits that look hard - that spiky core is just nasty.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Kajikit

                    Sounds to me like you can't get good tomatoes. If the outer pulp has no flavor, it's a crappy tomato. Granted, a really good tomato right off the vine tastes good all the way through, but the proper way to eat those does not require a recipe, just a handy kitchen sink and the ability to lean forward while eating...