HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Spaghetti Sauce -- do the tomatoes need to be peeled?

I am making spaghetti sauce -- with fresh tomatoes, in the crock pot, to be stored in the freezer. The recipe says to chop the tomatoes -- do I need to peel them? Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Not if you don't want to. If you want the sauce smooth, though, you will need to peel or - better - run it through a food mill (a blender or food processor won't be as good). A food mill is indispensible for quickly processing fruits with skin (tomatoes are fruits...).

    1 Reply
    1. Here is another suggestion if you do not have a food mill. You can quickly and easily peel tomatoes by dropping them into a pot of simmering water for, say, 30 seconds, then removing them with a slotted spoon (or similar utensil). Core and chop them after they cool a bit.

      1. Don't peel. You will lose a lot of flavor. To while away the time while watching my sauce, which hardly needs so much watching, I sometimes pick out the peels that have given their all and become detached, but that is hardly necessary.

        1. Sorry to be a minority voice but yes, peel the tomatoes. After all the work to achieve a wonderful sauce, there is little worse than ingesting tough scrolls of tomato skins.

          You can cook and then pick them out but you stand to lose good sauce in the process. The fastest approach is to submerge in boiling water then place in an ice bath.....the peeling is very simple.

          3 Replies
          1. re: ThanksVille

            This exactly. Blanch them, then peel them.

            I generally prefer to use as much of the whole fruit/vegetable in a recipe, but the rolled up tomato skin flutes (skin flutes!) are very unappetizing in sauces and salsas.

            1. re: evenworse

              A food mill is a lot easier, and better texture and flavor, FWIW.

            2. re: ThanksVille

              I agree. Skins in sauce are unpleasant. I just made a sauce using Brandywines, plums and sweet yellow cherry tomatoes. I blanched and peeled the Brandywines and plums (and removed the pulp as well), but just added the cherry tomatoes whole. The next morning I picked out the chunks of garlic and the skins of the cherry tomatoes before freezing the sauce.

            3. I never peel--I use a stick blender to puree the tomatoes.

              4 Replies
              1. re: sparrowgrass

                Me too. I prefer a chunkier sauce anyway. Stray large peels get picked out if I happen to see them.

                1. re: tcamp

                  I just chop and cook them down with the peels on and then run my immersion blender through the pot before storing the sauce.

                  1. re: Njchicaa

                    That's another piece of equipment that once I got one , I don't know how I survived without one

                2. I peel.

                  But then I always peel tomatoes however they are being used, including salads. And, for most uses (although not pasta sauce) I deseed as well.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Harters

                    Interesting, I've never heard of anyone peeling a salad tomato? Do you not like the texture of the skin?

                    1. re: tcamp

                      Spot on, tcamp. I don't like the skin. I find the texture of the skinned tomato much pleasanter.

                  2. I don't peel. I make sauce and use a Vitamix, so it's smooth, skin, seeds and all.

                    1. Peeling is always better for a smooth sauce, but the food mill is really the fastest way and the end results are the same. I put off buying a food mill and when I finally did I though - dah - how did I live without one!

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: tinaemenes

                        Use it to make other fruit sauces where you don't want to peel (applesauce, pear sauce, et cet.), because the peel adds color and flavor and, when milled right, body.

                        1. re: tinaemenes

                          I have always blanched and peeled by hand, but I just bought a food mill since I would like to make tomato sauce in larger quantities. Should I cook the tomatoes before putting them through the food mill? If so, how long would you cook them? I am using Roma tomatoes.

                          1. re: AmyLouise

                            Cook them until they are tender. Then put them through the mill.

                        2. I cut an 'x' in the skin and blanch, or else hold over open flame, and then peel. Sauce will still be decent if you don't peel, but I usually do make the extra effort. I would also try to seek out proper sauce / paste tomatoes, or at least Romas. The other kinds of tomatoes you can buy don't make as good sauce, and have too many seeds, IMHO.

                          I also shock and peel tomatoes even for semi-raw applications, like when just tossing pasta with olive oil, garlic, basil, and tomatoes.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: will47

                            From experience, there's no need to cut that x before blanching. Once blanched, just the tiniest nick on the skin is almost always enough for me to take the skin off in two or three pieces.

                            If you don't cut an x that is one less x and less chance of the simmering water getting into the tomato (or losing some tomato goodness into the water).

                            1. re: PinchOfSalt

                              My experience has always been the opposite -- the just cutting a small X isn't enough. I completely circumscribe the tomato in two directions and then blanch in hot water. I wonder if I'm not blanching long enough or something?

                              1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                Well, I try to just cut the skin; generally, with a very sharp knife, and a good paste tomato, this doesn't result in the tomatoes getting watery or leaking into the water. If the knife is not sharp enough, sometimes you will cut into the tomato a little, but still haven't had problems.

                                I usually cool off the tomatoes again in a cold water bath after blanching; I believe this is supposed to help the skin come off more easily too.

                            2. I'd recommend it. Especially because you're going to freeze your sauce, it could provide and unwanted texture. Peeling tomatoes is simple though. Make an "x" cut through the skin of each tomato and drop them in a pot of boiling water for a minute. You'll see when they skin begins to separate. Remove them and then skins will nearly fall off.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: sbagneski

                                If you are doing just a few it's easy enough to blanch and peel. If you are cooking, on multiple occasions, 30 pounds at a time into sauce then no, you do not need to peel the tomatoes. Cook them down and use an immersion blender to take care of peels and most seeds.

                              2. If you are using store-bought tomatoes, the skins should be thin enough that they will not be so discernible in the sauce.
                                We grow tomatoes, and the skins are much thicker. I have to blanch the tomatoes or I end up with REALLY hard scrolls of tomato skins in my sauces.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: fezmarie73

                                  It depends on the variety you are growing, some home grown have very thin skins, others thicker.

                                2. Nah. Not necessary. There is flavor and texture in the skin of the tomato. Seems needlessly fussy to me to peel.

                                  1. it's probably a personal preference.
                                    when we lived in Camarillo and had tomatoes coming out our ears, I made a lot of pasta sauces.
                                    1. because it's my favorite meal just plain period
                                    2. because with 2 freezers I could make a batch, use some now, use some later.
                                    3. because they were free and I couldn't resist.

                                    I'd chop or blend or Cuisanart or simply boil away never cutting out/off anything but the core. the skin didn't bother me nor did I have complaints about it/them being there in the sauce.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: iL Divo

                                      Funny - I absolutely cannot stand tomato or pepper peels in sauce. It isn't uncommon for me to end up with the peels ringing the rim of the plate when I'm finished with a meal. My wife could care less, and she's Italian. They do not provide any flavor to the sauce. The fact that tomatoes and peppers are peeling in all of Italy tells me something.

                                      Everyone is different - my only point is that peeled tomatoes will offend no one, but peels in tomato sauce will be noticed by picky bast$%ds like me!

                                    2. There's a couple of reasons to peel the tomatoes first - tomato skin will impart a bitterness to the sauce, and most store bought tomatoes have stuff like wax coatings and pesticides that you don't want in your sauce.

                                      I canned tomatoes for many years with my grandparents, and we simply scored the bottom of the tomatoes as mentioned here, and boiled them briefly to loosen the skin. Yes, it's more work, and if you are doing a lot, you should wear gloves because the acid in the tomatoes can start to irritate your hands.

                                      I don't really see the purpose of using a crock pot though since it's going to trap all the excess moisture in it, which you would want to get rid of. You may wind up with a pink-ish bland watery "sauce" instead of a thick deep red sauce.