Canning 101: The Easiest Way to Peel Tomatoes (Peaches Too!)

July 18, 2014

tomatoes in a bowl

Let’s talk about my favorite way to quickly peel tomatoes and peaches. I mention this technique a lot when I teach classes, and even wrote about it in this post in the context of peeling peaches, but as I broke down a few pounds of tomatoes today, thought it might just bear repeating.

tomatoes in a pan

Instead of bringing a big pot of water to a boil in order to blanch and peel tomatoes before turning them into a preserve, when I have a relatively small batch to peel, I do this. I trim away any soft spots, remove the cores from the tomatoes and cut them in half. Then, I arrange them cut side down in a heat proof baking dish.

tea kettle

While I’m prepping the tomatoes, I fill up my trusty tea kettle and bring it to a boil.

pouring water

When the water comes to a boil, I pour it over the tomatoes. You don’t need to fully submerge them, but you do want enough water in the pan so that it doesn’t cool down too quickly.

pan over tomatoes

Then, I slap a cookie sheet over the tomatoes to trap the heat and leave the whole thing alone for 10 or 15 minute, until the tomatoes have cooled down enough to handle.

peeled tomatoes

Drain the tomatoes and peel. The skins should slide right off and leave you with perfectly peeled tomatoes, ready to be turned into salsa or cooked down into a small batch of pizza sauce (that recipe is in Preserving by the Pint!).

peeling tomatoes

Of course, this technique really only works for smallish batches. If you’re prepping ten or more pounds of tomatoes sauce, heating up the big old blanching pot is still going to be your best bet.

What tricks do you guys have for easily prepping summer fruit for canning?

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25 thoughts on "Canning 101: The Easiest Way to Peel Tomatoes (Peaches Too!)"

  • What kind of tomatoes have you used here? If using the blanching method do you score the skin or still cut them as shown? Thanks for the tip.

    1. These were some slightly imperfect local slicing tomatoes I picked up at a farmstand over the weekend. When I blanch tomatoes in a large pot of water, I remove the core and score the skin.

    1. I’ve not tried it with beets, but I don’t think it would work there. They are so much denser than tomatoes.

      1. I roast beets in the oven, in a pouch made of foil. The juices will spatter and this helps with cleanup. I roast until they are soft and a knife can slip through; the time really depends on how big the beets are. Let cool in the foil, and the skins peel right off.

    2. I blanched my beets before canning…the skin does not peel off as easy as a tomato or peach, but it sure helps!!! I just needed to scrape the skins a little and they came off easier.

  • I had the opportunity to read through your new book, Preserving By the Pint, and I <3 it!! I can't wait to order my own copy!

  • Wow! This makes it look incredibly easy! I haven’t canned tomatoes because blanching looks like a lot of work. 😀

  • I just put mine in the oven for 20 minutes or so. Peels come off, some excess water comes out, which is helpful. (I mostly make sauce.)

  • I just wanted to stop in and say that I just got my copy of Preserving by the Pint a few days ago, and I love it. When I get a new cookbook, I tend to flip through the pages first, and take note of what looks good and what will likely never get made by me. I kept turning pages and saying ‘this looks good’ ‘that looks amazing’ ‘definitely going to try that” for every recipe! Such a lovely collection of really interesting and delicious recipes, and a foodie lover’s dream. Many thanks!

  • I just freeze the tomato, whole. Then, I bring them out. When they start to thaw the skins just slip right off them. Use as per usual to make salsa, sauce, etc. learned this method from my mother. 🙂

  • I trim and core them and cut them in half across the equator, then grate them from the cut side on the large holes of a box grater to the skins – no water required.

    For Christy – compared to the rest of the steps required for canning, blanching a large number of tomatoes is hardly any work 😉

  • Thanks for the repost! After letting half a crate of tomatoes go to waste last year due to lack of time, I decided this year that I would tackle tomatoes week by week in small batches instead of making myself miserable trying to do several batches in an evening. This was timely and perfect as the blanching step is actually the step that bogs me down the most!

  • I have always had good luck with peeling peaches and tomatoes a little differently. I learned this from my grandma. Take a knife, can be a butter knife, and hold it parallel to the edge flat to the surface and scrape the whole fruit. Then I just run them under hot water and the peel easily.

  • when I want to jar tomatoes I clean cut in quarters and boil then put through a mill which removes skin and seeds at the same well! then I continue cooking the tomatoes until thickened and I proceed to flavoring and making sauce…enjoy, no matter what method you choose it will be right for you.

  • Thanks for this tip. I bought your book last week and I’ve made at least 10 batches of various recipes! Everyone has turned out beautifully. I had a huge load of plums from my tree, I don’t love eating them so I decided to start preserving. I’ve made: peach plum, peach raspberry, plain plum, honey raspberry, tomato salsa, spicy tomato jam, sungold jam, apple pear chutney and peach jam. You have transformed my idea of canning and I don’t want to stop!! Thank you so much, my friends are going to love me come Christmas! I do have a question about quantities. I have so much fruit and veg and I want to double most of your recipes to get a higher yield. Do you see a problem in doing that?

  • I core my Tomatoes cut them in half put them on a cookie sheet cut side down and roast them in the oven on 350 45 min to an hr
    The skins peel right off.blend and freeze