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Tomato Presses - Electric and Manual Tomato Strainers, Mills and Grinders

Updated on February 22, 2012

Tomato presses and stainless steel tomato strainers are the easiest way to extract the pulp from this delicious fruit with the minimum of effort and in a fraction of the time spent manually peeling and seeding them. An Italian tomato mill as they are also sometimes called, is the ideal purchase if you like your pizza and pasta sauce freshly made, grow tomatoes in abundance each year in your garden or just generally, find yourself with a hankering to try your hand at making your own pasta sauce, enchilda sauce or salsa from scratch.

You can buy both manual models which are operated by a crank handle you turn to grind up and extract the pulp or you can spend a little more and look at electric tomato mills instead which are motor powered. Manual hand cranked tomato grinders are fine for smaller amounts of fruit, but for larger numbers (and by larger, I mean several bushels) or if you think your body wouldn’t appreciate turning a handle over and over, then you should definitely look into buying an electric one which is powered by a small motor.

Choosing the best tomato press strainer is dependent upon what you personally want out of it. As mentioned before, for smaller amounts of fruit, or if you’d prefer processing them in smaller batches anyway, a manual one will be perfect whilst for bigger amounts, you’ll probably need one of the electrical ones for sale out there. Be sure when buying any of these that you do opt for durable, rust-proof materials as tomatoes are wet and acidic and will corrode metals. I recommended stainless steel parts where possible, at least for the moving parts as many of the cheaper (but still excellent) models use plastic for the hopper and some other parts.

Video of The Roma Tomato Press In Action

More Recommended Manual Strainers

Whichever style you choose, the function is basically the same. You clamp the gadget to your kitchen countertop, island, workbench, table or other stable surface to keep it in place. Then you simply feed the fruit in to the top hopper where they are ground up by the internal machinery to separate the seeds and the skins with the usable pulp coming out of one side of the tomato strainer and the useless skin and seeds coming out the other, or to one side. That’s why there are sometimes called tomato seeders or seed removal machines, because they both skin and separate the seeds from the stuff you want for your cooking.

It’s that easy, drop the fruit in and turn the crank handle (or push a button if you’ve gone electric) and the pulp comes out into a bowl you place there for just that purpose. No need to find out how to remove the skins and all the time and mess that involves, or to cut and seed them either. Drop, turn, gather pulp, repeat. Easy.

Many tomato mills also work great for other fruits too, allowing you to grind up and strain berries without resorting to messy cloth straining, or for milling apples for making apple sauce and so on.

Recommended Electric Tomato Presses

It should be noted here that these are not the same as tomato juicers as, whilst similar in function, the output is quite different. Manual and automatic tomato presses take the raw fruit with the skin still on and output pulp which is great to use as a base for many soups or Italian sauces like pizza or pasta sauce. This output is different from a tomato juicer which again, takes a raw fruit but outputs a much finer, tomato juice liquid instead which is ready for drinking or adding to drinkable products. Think therefore, of a tomato pressing machine as something you would use for preparing pasta sauces etc. whilst juicers and juicing machines are something you would use instead for drinkable tomato juice or for recipes which require solely the juice and no pulp.

Last year we grew so many tomatoes we had no idea what to do with them all. We grow our plants from seed and after raising them it sucks to see them left to die just because their bretheren looked a little stronger so we planted the whole lot of them…all thirty as it happens. Thankfully, we learned the joys of growing tomatoes in an earthbox a couple of years ago, and this saves us masses of space but also means those plants produce a LOT of fruit.

After manually peeling and seeding our way through a ridiculous number of the things we decided there had to be a better way…and that’s when we found out about tomato presses! These handy machines cost as little as $40-$50 for a good quality manual tomato mill up to around $200 for a more heavy duty electric model.

How To Peel A Tomato Skin By Hand

Of course, you can still do it the hard way if you prefer and that’s fine and dandy if you have the patience but for us, $50 saved up hours of tedious, messy work. If you haven't room for more kitchen gadgets or would like to find out how to peel a tomato by hand then the simple manual method for removing the skins is as follows:

1. Get a pot of boiling water going on the stove.

2. Put aside a bowl of ice water too.

3. Cut a small X shape in the base of each with a knife

4. Drop them in the boiling water and watch for the skins to start peeling away from the flesh which takes around 30 seconds…or more/less, you just have to watch.

5. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon, or whatever you have handy and dump them immediately in the ice water to cool down and stop cooking.

6. Give it at least a couple of minutes to be fully cool, you want them to stop cooking internally as well as be easy to handle.

7. Pull out and start peeling the skin back by hand. Chances are it won’t come off easily still, so be prepared to work at the stubborn bits with a sharp knife.

8. Congrats, you’ve got a peeled tomato…now repeat for all the others you have.

If the recipe calls for removing the seeds as well, cut in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.

Yes, it is basically time consuming and messy, but you do it to prevent any bitterness or strange flavors which seeds and tomato skins can sometimes have as well as to prevent tough skins turning up in your homemade pasta and pizza sauces which isn’t desirable either. Get yourself a tomato press if you see your future in making homemade pasta sauce from scratch, making pizza sauces for homemade pizza or if canning is your goal for this year. It’ll save you time, effort and you’ll eat healthier too by knowing exactly what goes into your sauces i.e. no weird colorings, preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, sugars, excess salt and all the other garbage our big food manufacturers like to foist upon us at to grow their bottom line at the expense of out health.

Read More About Tomato Presses and Food Strainers

Usefulness Of Tomato Presses - Gardenweb members discuss how useful a food mill has been to them and offer some useful tips and advice on whether or not you need one.

Wikipedia On Tomatoes - everything you probably never needed to know about this fruit can be found here.

Tomato Milling - this is an excellent shopping resource for finding all kinds of mills and canning supplies.

Any Tips, Reviews or Recommendations?

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    • JD Barlow profile image

      JD Barlow 

      7 years ago from Southeast US

      I'm going to have to get a tomato press.

    • Angelllite profile image


      7 years ago from United States

      Great hub! I'm saving this one!


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