Blanching Tomatoes for Canning and Cooking
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 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.
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.
Blanching Tomatoes - Chilling
Once the skins begin to split, remove the tomatoes from the boiling water using the slotted spoon, and place them into ice water. This stops the cooking process and prevents blanched tomatoes from turning into stewed tomaotes.
Repeat this process until you have blanched all of your tomatoes - or at least all that you want to mess with at one time!
Blanching Tomatoes - Coring and Skinning
Once they are cool enough to handle - which is pretty quickly - you're ready to start skinning tomatoes.
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 will probably feel loose, or even start coming off while you are removing the core. If not, grab the skin at any
convienient 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.
Blanching Tomatoes - Ready for Further Processing!
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 tomato juice, homemade pasta sauce or ketchup, tomato soup, or chili.
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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