Reader Tip: A Fast Way to Preserve Whole Tomatoes
How We Discovered Freeze Peeling
I remember my mother and grandmother canning “stewed tomatoes.” To do so they boiled water on the stove and ran cold water in the sink. The whole tomatoes were then dipped in the boiling water for a few minutes. This was followed by soaking them in the cold water. This shrunk and cracked the skin allowing it to be peeled away with the sharp edge of a knife. After that, the usual procedure was followed for stewing and canning.
In commercial canning, they may use hot water with lye and/or abrasive peeling or other means.
Other than the happenstance, I do not claim this as an original idea. For years we have froze our unblanched tomatoes whole. My wife does not like the skins that float in the stews and sauces. So before serving I fish them out.
A while back a bag of whole frozen tomatoes was removed from the freezer and to hurry their thawing they were placed, out of the bag, in lukewarm water. Almost instantly (less than a minute) it was noticed that with mild handling the skin slipped away. The peeled, whole, still frozen tomato, could then be placed back in the freezer if you desired. But in our case, the tomatoes were seasoned with salt and basil, and microwaved. This is our brand of “stewed tomatoes” and can be made in less than 5 minutes. I’m not sure if they qualify as the old time “stewed tomatoes” but for time, money, and energy, they are great. This process leaves more vitamins but does reduce fiber.
“Freeze peeling” may not be commercially viable but for the individual, it works well.
James G Shover
Originally published in 2011 and regularly vetted for accuracy.