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Nov 1, 2012 08:16 AM

Do Tomato Seeds Cause Bitterness in Sauces? Science or Folklore?

Is this just an fallacious old wives tale like "searing meat to seal in the juices" or is this grounded in scientific fact?

I've been told on various occasions that tomato seeds produce / cause a bitterness, particularly in slow / long cooked sauces. But I've never really known if its true. Does anyone have a reputable source for this idea?

ie should I be bothering to de-seed fresh tomatoes when they will be cooked for longer periods. Most French/Italian recipes (using tomatoes) do seem to recommend peeling and de-seeding.

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    1. re: todao

      oh, thanks. I did a search but didn't turn up that thread.

    2. I've been cooking with fresh tomatoes from my garden for over 30 years & have yet to de-seed one for anything. Have yet to find any bitterness.

      1. Apparently Cook's Illustrated / ATK just came out against the need for seeding tomatoes. In fact they found that leaving the seeds in makes whatever you cook taste much better, more tomato-y. I'll take that as permission to skip the annoying step of seeding tomatoes myself!

        3 Replies
        1. re: GardenFresh

          IIRC what they said was that it's the gel surrounding the seeds that adds a lot of tomato flavor. But I don't seed them, either.

          1. re: greygarious

            Yes- it's the gel around the seeds that contains some of the most intense flavor in a tomato. If I'm making a sauce from fresh tomatoes, I often strain the gel and add that liquid back last minute off the heat to rehydrate slightly over-reduced sauce. It really ups the intensity of tomato flavor, and not cooking that liquid gives the sauce a great brightness and freshness that most sauces lack.

            1. re: cowboyardee

              great idea cowboy, I personally have
              always loved to slurp up the seeds and juice after cutting up tomatoes for a salad or whatever. Just recently I read, don't remember where, that the jell around the seed is loaded with all the good stuff. Can't wait to try your idea. Thanks

        2. I suspect you might get a bit of bitterness if you really blended the living crap out of a sauce with seeds in it. I'm talking vitamix level blending though, not really something you could accomplish with an immersion blender. The seeds themselves (not the surrounding gel) might be a bit bitter if they're broken up, but even then I think it's a subtle thing.