Blanching Tomatoes for Sauces and Salads
How to Blanch a Tomato
Cutting and peeling tomatoes can be a messy hassle, but leaving skins on when you're making sauces, soups, and salads can yield less than gourmet results. Luckily, preparing tomatoes for salads, homemade tomato sauce, or just simple dicing is easy if you blanch the tomatoes first.
Blanching tomatoes is simple. You only need a knife, a cooking pot, a bowl, water, and some ice. In just a few minutes, you can have expertly peeled tomatoes ready for your next recipe.
Prepare the Tomatoes
To prepare a tomato for blanching, simply remove the stem, if the tomato has one, cut out the stem core where it attached to the tomato, and cut a shallow "x" on the tomato's bottom.
Next, pour several inches of water in your cooking pot. Because tomatoes blanch quickly, you only need enough water to blanch three or four at a time. Make sure you have at least enough water to cover the tomatoes, but filling the pot all the way is an unnecessary waste of energy. Bring the water to a light boil. Make sure the water is only boiling lightly - a rolling boil can cause the tomatoes to rupture and split open too quickly.
Prepare the Ice Bath
After placing the tomatoes in boiling water, prepare an ice bath. Pour enough water in a bowl to cover the tomatoes and fill the bowl with ice.
Once you have the ice bath read and the water is boiling, you're ready to get blanching. Make sure to lower the tomatoes gently, with a pair of tongs or slotted spoon, so they don't drop suddenly and splash you with boiling water.
Remove Tomatoes from the Boiling Water
It depends on the tomatoes, but they frequently only need to stay in the boiling water for about a minute. If you have large tomatoes or your water is only simmering, it may take a few extra minutes. Don't pay attention to the clock - watch the tomatoes. When the skins begin to split, as shown below, remove them from the boiling water and drop them into the ice bath.
Peel the Tomatoes
Let the tomatoes rest in the ice water for several minutes. This both makes them cool enough to touch and stops the tomatoes from cooking further.
After the tomatoes are cool to the touch, simply peel away the skins.
High-quality, sharp knives making preparing food so much easier. If you don't have any, you owe yourself a nice knife.
Preparing the Tomatoes for a Recipe
You may not need to dice the tomatoes, but most recipes call for them to be cleaned of juice and seeds. To juice the tomatoes, cut each in half and squeeze the juice and seeds from the tomatoes' hulls. Warning - this could get messy! It's worth the mess, though. If you don't clean the tomatoes out, your recipes will turn out overly soupy and filled with seeds.
After the tomatoes are clean, they're ready for whatever you need. Slice them for a salad or cut them up for any recipe that calls for diced tomatoes, like my recipe for Mediterranean couscous salad.
Blanching tomatoes for sauce is the perfect way to preserve your homegrown or farmers' market tomato bounty, and you can use this technique any time to make your own diced tomatoes for your favorite recipes. Are there any dishes you make regularly with diced tomatoes? Have you ever tried making your own diced tomatoes before?