Blanching Tomatoes for Canning and Cooking

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Blanching tomatoes to easily remove their skins for either cooking or canning is one of the most important and time saving canning skills you can learn. It's also one of the easiest!

If you have ever tried peeling tomatoes by hand for canning - you're doing it the hard way. It's one thing to peel a couple of tomatoes to slice for dinner, but if you have a bushel or two of them for canning, don't even THINK about trying to peel them just with a knife. There's a faster, easier way...

Blanching Tomatoes: Boiling Water

Fill a large pan about half full with water, and place on your stove to bring it to a boil.

While water is coming to a boil, rinse any loose soil from your tomatoes, and remove the stems.

Place tomatoes into boiling water

When the water comes to a boil, put the tomatoes in one at a time until the pan is nearly full. It's a good idea to use a large slotted spoon to put the tomatoes into the pan to avoid splashing boiling water. Leave the tomatoes in the boiling water until the skins begin to split. This usually takes about 1-2 minutes.

Tomatoes are done when the skins begin to split


Once the skins begin to split, remove the tomatoes from the boiling water using the slotted spoon, and place them into ice water.

Chill blanched tomatoes in ice water to stop them from cooking

Placing them in an ice water bath stops the cooking process and prevents blanched tomatoes from turning into stewed tomatoes.

Repeat this process until you have blanched all of your tomatoes - or at least all that you want to mess with at one time!

Coring and Skinning

Once they are cool enough to handle - which is pretty quickly - you're ready to start skinning tomatoes.

Start by removing the core

First remove the "core" or stem end. This is done by cutting a cone shaped plug around the stem scar, as shown in the illustration. Also cut out any bad spots you find.

The skin of a blanched tomato will just fall away

The skin will probably feel loose, or even start coming off while you are removing the core. If not, grab the skin at any convenient location - either at a split or where the core was cut out, and pull gently. It will come off in your hands.

Continue peeling your tomatoes until you're done.

If you are processing paste (Roma type) tomatoes, it's even easier still - cut off the top with the stem end (instead of coring), and squeeze from the base. The tomato will usually slide right out leaving the skin in one piece.

Blanched Tomatoes:
Ready for Further Processing!

Peeled tomatoes ready to make something

When you get done, you'll have a batch of tomatoes that are cleaned, cored and peeled, ready to make whatever you can dream up:

Canned tomatoes or juice

Homemade pasta sauce



Blanching tomatoes is quicker and easier than peeling by hand with a knife or peeler. I can process a half bushel in about 30 minutes, and part of that is prep work. If you grow your own or buy in bulk at the farmer's market, give it a try next time you want to process tomatoes.

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Tomato Related Links:

Growing Tomatoes

Canning Tomatoes & Juice

Home Made Salsa

Home Made Ketchup

Making Pasta Sauce

Canning Peaches


When canning peaches, you can use the same method described here to easily remove the skins from peaches before canning them. 

You can process a large number of peaches in pretty short order using this method.  The skins will slip right off with no waste and little effort.