The kitchen is the great equalizer. Food doesn’t care about the colour of your skin…
A quick and handy guide to get you cooking like a pro in your own kitchen. How to Blanche Tomatoes in five easy steps. All you need is a pot of boiling water, a wee sharp knife, a slotted spoon, a bowl of ice water, and tomatoes.
What Is Blanching?
Blanching is a basic cooking technique, useful for quickly peeling tomatoes and peaches, or for anything you’d like to just barely cook to reserve for later, like peas or green and yellow beans. Blanching cooks something while preserving peak freshness, crunch, and flavour, or in this case, removes something unnecessary quickly and efficiently.
Blanching involves partially cooking your chosen ingredient by plunging it into boiling water for a short time, then “shocking” it in ice water to stop the cooking.
How to Blanche Tomatoes, in Five Simple Steps
- Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat, then reduce heat to a light, rolling boil.
- Using a sharp paring knife, lightly score each tomato on the bottom, marking a small ‘X’.
- Quickly slip tomatoes in, one-by-one, being careful not to splash. Cook lightly, about 2 – 3 minutes (depending on ripeness) until skins begin to split.
- Add ice to cold water in a large bowl. Remove tomatoes from hot water with a slotted spoon. Place immediately, in waiting ice water bath.
- Skins will split and begin to slough off as they cool. Once cool enough to handle, remove skins and reserve skinless tomatoes in a bowl at room temperature.
Why Score the Bottom?
Step two is a tip from the pro kitchen. That small ‘X lightly scored on the bottom of the tomato helps the hot water to better penetrate the skin so it starts to split and peels faster.
When blanching anything for the purpose of removing the skin, I always score the bottom. This way all I have to do to check progress is to roll the tomato over to check its little bottom. If I see the skin beginning to lift and peel back from that tiny split marked on its skin, I know it’s almost ready. It also makes peeling easier and faster after cooling.
Here you can see that the superficial score on the skin has opened right up as the skin has begun to slough off. Time to remove it from the boiling water with a slotted spoon (or something similar) to the waiting ice water bath.
Hot, Cold, Repeat
Once removed from the boiling water, and submerged in the ice water bath, the ice melts very quickly. As the tomato cools, the skins begin to naturally lift making tomatoes easy to peel, with the flesh of the fruit intact. When tomatoes are cool enough to handle, gently remove the remaining skin and discard, reserving the whole, smooth, now skinless tomato for whatever’s next. Canning. Cooking. Sauces.
You can repeat this process as many times as needed. Try to always have the coldest water possible, which often means refreshing between batches. You may also need to add more water to your boiling water bath. If that’s the case, be sure to bring it back to a boil again before you start. The idea is to LIGHTLY cook, not stew. Start HOT.
Now that you’ve mastered the art of blanching tomatoes you’re ready for the Classic Tomato Sauce recipe that rocks my late summer months as load the freezer for winter. Blanching is also a foolproof method to remove fuzzy peach and apricot skins, so you can use them in recipes like our Bourbon Praline Peach Praline Crisp. Technique my friend, technique. It will make you a much better cook!