I wrote last week about tackling my fear of canning tomatoes. Mainly, I don’t like blanching the tomatoes – or dipping them briefly in boiling water – to remove the skins.
Several readers called or wrote emails to share their tomato preserving wisdom. Their advice: don’t bother.
After years of canning tomatoes, Lynn Johnson of Smithfield said she came to her senses. “What I learned after scalding and peeling is the skins don’t hurt you.” Instead, Johnson cuts off the blossom end, takes out the core and pureed the tomatoes, skins and all, in a blender. She would can that puree and use it in soups and stews. She added: “I found out that nobody knew the difference.”
Sandy Ruel of Pittsboro echoed that advice: “I have been canning for over 30 years and stopped peeling tomatoes a long time ago. You don’t really have to do this. Peeling tomatoes is for aesthetics.”
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He adds another tip: instead of canning, freeze the tomatoes. Slice off the top and place whole tomatoes in zip-top bags. Once defrosted, the skins fall right off, if you prefer. “This is best if you plan to use the tomatoes in the next few months and you have freezer space,” Ruel wrote.
Besides, added David Resnik of Chapel Hill in an email: “You get the additional vitamins and fiber from the skins.”
There does appear to be some nutritional value in the skin – and seeds, which are also often removed before canning. A 2013 study published in the Food Science and Technology Journal showed that peeled, deseeded tomatoes had less lycopene, beta-carotene, ascorbic acid, phenolics and antioxidants. Researchers concluded: “The results of this research substantiate the idea that in order to beneﬁt from the full nutritional and antioxidant potential that tomato can provide one should eat the whole fruit.”
As long as it means less work, that’s sounds like a good idea to me.