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Aug 15, 2010 11:30 AM

Do I have to peel and seed tomatoes to make marinara sauce from scratch?

I've got a ton of tomatoes left over from canning....I can't stand thte thought of peeling and seeding them to make a pasta sauce. Do I have to?

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  1. I don't mind not seeding tom's for sauce, but I don't like peels. Depending on the quantity that you are making if you cut a tomato in half and grate the pulpy side on a cheese grater you easily separate the skin from the rest. It doesn't take long (+- 5 min) to go through a couple pounds of tomatoes, but if you are making a huge batch to freeze it would be a PIA.

    2 Replies
    1. re: corneygirl

      We had used a tomato processor for years - it removes the seeds and the skin and the pulp remains. Also, my father thought that the best way to remove the liquid was to drain the water off by putting the pulp in a bag and let it hang. Bad idea because a large amount of flavor is in that juice that is draining from the tomatoes. Always cook it down - good things come to those who wait!
      First, using the tomato processor with raw cut up tomatoes is not an efficient way to use the processor as uncooked tomatoes run through the machine still leaves quite a bit of pulp behind.
      So, we decided to cook the tomatoes first and then run them through the mill. That works well and is easier to get them through because the tomatoes are soft.
      Over the years, the mill (which was enameled 'cheap' white metal) became delapidated. We were stuck on weekend with lots of cooked tomatoes and no tomato processor. What we ended up doing is to put the cooked tomatoes - skins and seeds and all - into the food processor and grind everything up. People talk about the skin and 'cellophane', but I would challenge anyone to find tomato skins in cooked tomatoes that had been run in a food processor. The sauce when cooked down is superb. I believe that the skin acts as a thickener and what results is tomato sauce that is less watery than 'skinned' tomato sauce and is thick and rich. It is quite good.
      It is probably better for you in that everything is still in the sauce - seeds and skins and pulp.
      As far as being more bitter than 'normal' - I have not noticed this. I tend to put red wine in sauce and if it is at all bitter, I'll put some sugar in. I usually don't have to since the sauce that we make usually has some onion, basil, oregano, etc...things that would tend to balance the sauces bitterness and acidity.

      1. re: tomatoizer

        I agree about the skins.My super simple way to make my marinara is to cut the tomatoes in half.Put a little olive oil in a stock pot with one garlic clove and saute for a minute add your tomatoes,salt and cook down to when it starts to thicken.Turn off heat and add fresh basil. Cover for ten minutes. Then I pour the tomatoes into a sieve and use a large spoon to push the tomato sauce through leaving behind the skins and seeds.No need for expensive equipment.

    2. You don't have to but I'd at least remove the skins...just boil a pot of water, blanch for two minutes and peel. I don't normally remove the seeds when I make sauce.

      11 Replies
      1. re: Cherylptw

        this is the best method -- and easier than the food mill.

        1. re: alkapal

          I don't think anything is easier than the magic plastic machine I use. Cut'em up, drop 'em in, turn the crank and let the pulp and juice go this way and the seeds and skin go that.

        2. re: Cherylptw

          I agree, no need to seed, but absolutely peel. Also, if you cut a shallow "X" into the base of the tomato before blanching, the skin peels off even more easily.

          1. re: RealMenJulienne

            I just peeled a dozen roma tomatoes for gazpacho. Took no time at all. The X is key to making it easy to pull off the skin. I don't think it even takes two minutes.

            1. re: scubadoo97

              I've not tried it, but have read that an easy way to peel is to freeze the whole tomato. The skin will come off easily when run under warm water. Sounds more pleasant than boiling water in hot weather.

              1. re: greygarious

                Interesting, but it takes way more planning to freeze and then you have skinless frozen tomatoes. I most recently use a small pot of water, hey I'm not making pasta, which took little time to boil and did 4 romas at a time. It really doesn't take more than 1 min to loosen the skins. While I peeled the first 4 the next were in the water.

                1. re: scubadoo97

                  I do the X, boiling water for just a minute, then drop into a bowl of ice water. Skins practically peel themselves.

                  1. re: pine time

                    I don't do the X, put in boiling water for 10-15 secs, and don't bother with the ice bath (no need to stop cooking when they haven't even started). I just start peeling at the vine end by using my fingernail to get started, if necessary.

                    This is the quickest way I've found to peel tomatoes.

                    If you cut the tomato in half "equatorially" you can get a bunch of seeds out with a bit of a squeeze. I don't worry if they all get out or not though.

                  2. re: scubadoo97

                    Won't the peel come off in the food mill when you pass them?

            2. re: Cherylptw

              I used to peel tomatoes with the boiling water method, but it's too much work. Now I just rinse the tomatoes, dry them off a bit (not really necessary), then line them up on my cooktop all in a row and hit them with my kitchen torch. I do have to turn them to get the back, then roll them over to hit their stems, but it's a LOT easier and quicker than boiling water and I happen to enjoy the slightly smokey flavor the torch gives them. It also makes it really easy to seed the naked tomatoes. Just slice them across the middle and squeeze!

              If you want to know how to do things the easiest possible way, just ask a lazy cook! That's me... '-)

            3. Why don't you cook the tomatoes and run them through a food mill? Or a blender and then a sieve/china cap?

              1. Seeds and skins are not a problem if you're using something like a Vita-Mix set on high for a couple of minutes per batch. Without one, I'd suggest a food mill.

                1. i know im going against the wisdom of the ages, but - no. you do not.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: thew

                    I'm with you, thew! I'll let you know how it turns food mill, no peeling, no nothing.

                    1. re: momskitchen

                      A lot of the tomato's flavor is in the jelly encasing the seeds, so use a food mill if the skins and seeds bother you - you'll still get the jelly. I don't mind the seeds at all. The skins can be a little unpleasant if the tomatoes were in large chunks, so chopping them into half-inch pieces is a good idea. Be sure to have tomato paste on hand. You MIGHT like a sauce made with fresh tomatoes only, but chances are you will not be happy with it and will need paste to rescue it. I would include it at the start, sauteeing it with the garlic.

                      1. re: greygarious

                        I am going to crock pot this marinara all night....I don't care about peels or seeds. Stay tuned for news!

                        1. re: momskitchen

                          There's not really any mystery about what you'll end up with: lots of tough indigestible little tomato skins curled into threads throughout the sauce. Some people notice them more than others. You can crock pot them for a month and they won't break down. It's mainly a texture issue.

                          Seeds do add bitterness. And tomato paste should be mandatory to round out the taste.

                          1. re: LiviaLunch

                            The seeds and "juice" in a tomato has been scientifically proven to be the most "tomato"-y tasting bit of the tomato. I have to profoundly disagree that they are bitter on that basis.

                            I never peel my tomatoes either, and I've NEVER had "tough indigestible little tomato skins" in my sauce. When they're chopped finely, they rarely are noticeable.

                            1. re: guster4lovers

                              Same here guster. I've been making sauce 7 or 8 times a year for probably 20 years and have never peeled and/or seeded.

                        2. re: greygarious

                          The thought of "rescuing" a fresh tomato sauce with paste is appalling- if the tomatoes are that bad (and if you got them at the supermarket they probably are) far better to use canned. It's clear from comments on this board that there are a lot of really bad food mills out there- a good one is a real joy.