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Deseeding tomatoes: Do you do it, and if so, when/where/why?

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  • cimui Jun 25, 2009 06:46 PM

I have something to admit: I have never deseeded a tomato in my life. I love the juicy innards where all the seeds are. IMO, they're the best part of the tomato and it seems to me such a waste to throw them out.

However... when I watch cooking programs and read cookbooks, almost all of them tell you to deseed tomatoes before cooking with them, either for aesthetic reasons or because the seeds supposedly taste bitter. I don't find either scenario applicable.

Is there something I'm not getting, here? Is it important to deseed for cooking, but not if you're eating raw? Do all you expert Chowhound chefs deseed tomatoes?

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  1. When I eat a fresh cut tomato I never deseed. I use plums primarily in salads or a good heirloom and those I rarely seed.

    Now when I cook a sauce or a casserole, I love to use plum tomatoes. I do seed somewhat with just a slight squeeze. It isn't important to get all the seeds out but just a few. I roast them often and I put the whole tomato in the sauce or the dish without seeding. I wish I could tell you I seed for this and don't seed for that, but it just really depends on the dish and the freshness of the fruits and vegetables I am using..

    To me seeds are not bitter, but they can add additional water into a dish which sometimes can be a problem.

    I think one has to consider adding additional liquid and if they want the seeds in the dish for me it doesn't bother me. But added liquid and moisture does.

    I'm sure this probably doesn't answer your question, but may give you some in sight

    1. (not a chef)

      I love tomatoes. Raw, cooked, green (usually sliced and fried), or any other colour, as long as they don't have an old apple texture.

      When making a quick sauce or adding to salads or pastas raw, no de-seeding in my kitchen.

      Jose Andres calls it the caviar, and spoons it out to top bread, oranges, etc.

      As with herbs, the seeds apparently get bitter with longer cooking. I haven't had this happen to me, but I also have not had a bushel of tomatoes to can for the winter (next year if all goes well, this will be the case).

      10 Replies
      1. re: Caralien

        I almost always deseed tomatoes. To me they add too much water to dishes and dilute the dressing in salads. I have harvested the seed pods which when not broken can be enjoyed as Jose Andres professes. They are actually very good with a good fruity finishing evoo.

         
        1. re: Caralien

          Jose carefully cuts out the seed pods, trying leave them whole and intact.

          One of his tapas joins a seed pod to a cube of watermelon with a toothpick, drizzled with a bit of vinegar.

          1. re: paulj

            !!!

            that sounds very good.

            1. re: cimui

              More by Andres on 'tomato seed fillets'
              http://www.npr.org/templates/story/st...
              http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/as...

              1. re: paulj

                Wow, the pictures are stunning (especially that smidgen of purple flower in the first picture). I bet it would be lovely using green tomato seed pods, too.

                Thanks for these links, paulj!

                1. re: cimui

                  Here's a quick pictorial on how to get those pods out

                   
                   
                   
                   
                  1. re: scubadoo97

                    and the last 3 pictures

                     
                     
                     
                    1. re: scubadoo97

                      scubadoo the master chow pictorialist!

                      the seed pods kind of look more like orange frog's eggs than caviar, but i guess that's not as nice-sounding a selling point, huh?

                      can't decide whether to make this watermelon / tomato seed tapa or the Ranger's watermelon / peppercorn salad, first, for my next watermelon project....

                2. re: paulj

                  That looks great!! Thanks for sharing the link ;)

                  1. re: paulj

                    Paulj, I made the Food and Wine recipe for a post-fireworks tapas, tonight, substituting balsamic for the sherry vinegar, and on half of the skewers, adding a either sprinkle of red chili powder or freshly ground black pepper. They were quite delicious and a wonderful recipe for an informal, non-sitdown nibble, since the tapas only get better after a brief sit at room temperature.

                    Coupla notes:

                    Removing the tomato caviar takes a bit of patience (at least for me, since I don't have the knife skills for this down pat).

                    When serving, it presents much more nicely if you pour the dressing onto a deep serving plate and then add the skewers.

                    I used the leftover tomato flesh in a gazpacho, which we'll have for dinner tomorrow night.

                    Thanks a lot to you, Caralien and scubadoo97 for sharing this recipe and technique!!

            2. Lots of sauces/salsas don't need the extra moisture that comes from the seeds and pulp. For example, when I make pico de gallo I always peel and deseed the tomatoes. It's easy enough - just slice across the equator and scoop the innards out. If I'm doing more than a couple of tomatoes I'll seed them into a sieve and enjoy the juice (with or without vodka and hot sauce) as a cook's treat.

              1. Sandwiches! I can't stand when tomatoes aren't deseeded before being used on a sandwich- they make it so soggy if you don't!

                2 Replies
                1. re: CoryKatherine

                  I don't mind if the tomato is a good one, not those bland NO flavor ones, but never put the tomato on the bread. Tomatoes should be a middle layer and not next to dressing so it slips around. That way it doesn't make the sandwich soggy. I can't stand a soggy sandwich or burger either. YUCK!

                  1. re: kchurchill5

                    Tomato sandwiches are wonderful! Some prefer it with mayo. I used to like putting a plum tomato and a large button mushroom (or 2) into a piece of baguette, and smashing it into a pressed sandwich. To be eaten immediately. (my favourite car trip food)

                2. More often then not, I remove the seeds from my tomatoes. It's personal preference though. I just dislike the texture of the seeds.

                  1. Like others have said, I think it depends on what you're making and what your taste is. The only time I totally peel and deseed is for soup. Sometimes I deseed (but don't peel) for preparations where the seeds would make it soggy -- sandwiches, tacos, etc. Otherwise, I just use the whole thing. Especially when in peak season, just sliced with a dash of salt and I'm totally happy.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: LNG212

                      I often deseed, but that is mostly becuse I'm usually eating some heirloom, and if its a good tomato, I want the seeds to plant next year. my usual thing is to pull the seed gel out chop up the tomato throw the gel into a small hand held food processor give it four of five seconds (that's sually enough to pop the juice cells without damaging the actual seeds) strain it through a fine mesh seive then add the juice back to the bowl (I eat a lot or Horatiki) as far as I'm concered this is having your cake and eating it too.

                      1. re: jumpingmonk

                        << I often deseed, but that is mostly becuse I'm usually eating some heirloom, and if its a good tomato, I want the seeds to plant next year. >>

                        There's another possibility, you know...

                        1. re: tmso

                          yeah I know tomato seeds pass through the human digestive system intact, but really this way is a lot less disgusting.

                    2. I NEVER de-seed tomatoes... all the best flavour is in that juicy bit around the seeds and if you de-seed them it all gets wasted.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Kajikit

                        I agree, that's the best part!

                      2. The Filipinos who taught me to cook taught me to always de-seed tomatoes. I think it may come from the Spanish habit, as the seeds add too much moisture to sofrito (or ginisa in Tagalog), something I learned when I first started cooking, using recipes that didn't specify de-seeding tomatoes. In Indian cookery, however, I keep the seeds, but am told to lose the peel. I think the moisture might be necessary to help break down the ginger, onion and garlic into sauce.

                        In other words, deseed sometimes, but not all the time.

                        1. 99% of the time I do not seed tomatoes....I try to grow varieties that are meaty and have small seed cells.........

                          1. Catalonian method: cut the tomatoes in half, grate them, skin and all. Pour them through a moderately fine strainer...seeds and skin are retained, essence of the tomatoes go into the bowl.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: penthouse pup

                              I like the sound of this method (sounds low effort; I'm lazy!) -- except that ripe tomatoes seem like they might be soft to grate. I could see food processing or just mushing it up with your fingers working...

                            2. I only deseed when adding them to an omlette... i like them a little cooked, and the liquid released is too much sometimes for the eggs with the seed "stuff". :)

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: jujuthomas

                                There are somethings you don't want a lot of juice in, that is when I deseed.

                                1. re: jujuthomas

                                  I do this too, and also when making guacamole. I don't want the extra water.

                                  1. re: mordacity

                                    Yes, and another of those occasions is when the dish has to "travel" - e.g. a salad you're making for a picnic. If you leave the seeds in, the juice will break down the lettuce and other veggies, and you end up with a limp, soggy mess. If I'm making a sandwich to eat at home, I leave the seeds in, but if I'm taking it to work for lunch, I'll take out the seeds.

                                    But I do deseed over a sieve, add a pinch of salt and a dash of Worcester, and enjoy a light refreshing drink.

                                2. All the old version of grillades (as in grits and grillades) call for seeding the tomatoes...this is usually a half-hearted effort. I use the food sieve for it. And they must be peeled, as well.

                                  1. I'll peel and deseed tomatoes for cooked sauce and anytime a recipe call for concasse tomatoes

                                    1. You made me think. In Toronto (I cannot speak for the rest of NA) I haven't seen what I call salad tomatoes. These are common in the UK. They are hard, smallish, preferably sweet, but when quartered the seeds remain in the tomato. What's the word for the jelly the seeds are embedded in? Let's call it jelly. Often this jelly had a greenish tinge even when ripe. They are used in salads because they do not leak and do not need squeezing. Their distinctive smell (especially straight off the vine) differs from Roma and meat tomatoes.

                                      It may be something to do with the climate in the UK.

                                      1. So it sounds like there's some agreement: Most seem to think it's OK to keep the jelly (nod to Paulustrius for the term... I just call it "goo" :) if it doesn't make the dish / sauce too soggy. I can see how it'd be troublesome in sandwiches made ahead of time and sauces that aren't cooked or don't cook for long enough to boil off any excess liquid. When I make stuff like tomato + basil quiche, I usually just decrease the amount of other liquids, which seems to work out alright.

                                        Thanks, 'hounds! Y'all are so knowledgeable *and* helpful. I learn from you constantly.

                                        1. I see alot of replies why and only a few how. While if I must have no seed and no peel, but want rather whole pieces of tomato; I get a good pot of boiling water ready, and one of those old GrandMa wooden handle folks. I Stab the tomato on the fork, deep into the stem end and plunge it into the boiling water for about 15-30 sec. then plunge into cold water bath. With the tomato still on the fork, I score the skin at the blossom end in a star or * cut, With the tip of my knife peel off the skin. Once peeled, I core out the stem end, and gently squeeze out the seeds and goop.
                                          I have blenderized tomatoes then let it sit in a sieve, to use for when I am going to cook down for a sauce.
                                          If I can leave the peel on but know I have extra goopy tomatoes, I just core out the stem end and give a gentle squeeze.

                                          i don't have any use for the skin and seeds, just usually adding them to the green bag to compost if I can.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: Quine

                                            I find it easier to peel them is I use a corer to remove the stem end prior to popping them in the boiling water

                                            1. re: Quine

                                              I am a great fan of your verb "blenderize." Never heard that before---but I live under a defunct bank below a automobile factory--I don't get out much....

                                              1. re: hazelhurst

                                                Hey, it beats living in a van down by the river!

                                              2. re: Quine

                                                peeling tomatoes is easier when simply plunged into a vat of boiling water for 20-45 seconds, pulled out, pierced with the edge of a knife. Plunge into an ice water bath if needed, but they usually peel easily with a small stab from the tip of knife then peeled with knife or fingernails.

                                              3. I peel and deseed a tomato if I plan to use it as a diced or crushed product.

                                                1. Ok, so I've spent a good part of my life hating raw tomatoes. Weird, I know. As a kid, I liked catsup and tomato sauce and soup. HATED raw tomatoes. As I age, I have tried to become a more well-rounded eater. I now like most items where the raw tomato has in some way been "cooked." Salsa usually has lime juice - I tend to like salsa. Bruschetta with balsamic, love it. I still hate raw tomatoes plain or on sandwiches or salads. I'm starting to think that it might be because some raw items are seeded and some are not. Tomato seeds in the "goo" make me retch. I know, I know, bizarre.

                                                  With that said, when I make a raw tomato item, I cut the tomato in half and squeeze it in the disposal. The majority of the seeds come out and and I avoid the rest in the dish. My $.02 from a reformed tomato-hater.

                                                  1. To answer the OP's various questions:

                                                    Do I do it? - yes

                                                    When - usually

                                                    Where - in bed (isnt that where everyone deseeds their toms?)

                                                    Why - generally don't like the seeds in my food

                                                    1. Any recipe containing the step(s) to peel / deseed tomatoes has those steps completely ignored by me. I see no reason for it, and indeed I think it adversely affects the flavor of the tomato.

                                                      Exception: Stuffed tomatoes. I do deseed them.

                                                      1. Removing the seeds can actually be a way to preserve the glutamate rich inner gunk of the tomato. For example, if you grill a tomato so that it is cooked through, you're going to lose a lot of the seeds and such. If you remove it all first, you can add it back to the finished dish, or save it for another application.

                                                        1. I made a cucumber and tomato salad yesterday, and deseeded both the cucumbers and tomatoes. Made for very pretty, gem-like cubes of veggies. It was both a texture and presentation-based decision.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: operagirl

                                                            Actually, when I make my inauthentic version of "Horiatiki" salad, I deseed both tomatoes and cucumbers (and peppers) as well. Too much liquid from the veggies dilutes the beautiful dressing.

                                                          2. I deseed. The seeds are messy, and bound to fall on my shirts when I leave them in the slices I put on my sandwiches.