Wednesday, 1 August 2012

How to Peel Tomatoes and Make Ketchup

Why would you care about peeling tomatoes, you ask? Because that's the first step to making your own ketchup! Unless you would rather just buy whole canned tomatoes. But that is far too easy for me. I'd totally grow my own tomatoes but it seems physically impossible to do on St Thomas. In the Bahamas my friend Penny could grow 20-30 tomatoes plants at once. During the winter. It was incredible. But not here. Not St. Thomas. This island gods hate tomatoes and want to stop them at all cost. Someone once told us that you used to be able to grow tons of tomatoes year round. Then a hurricane blew in some sort of fungus that kills them all off before they can finish ripening. Sounds crazy, yes? A hurricane blew in a fungus? But I believe it. You start believing the crazy once you've lived here long enough. And over the last six years we have grown a large number of beautiful tomato plants. Bright green. Strong. Plants that left that awesome tomato smell on your hands when you touched the leaves. But as soon as the plants start to flower they die. And fast. The heartbreak was just too much. So we stopped trying to grow our own tomatoes and started buying the $5 baskets at Fruit Bowl.

I usually do my semi-boring food prep like this on Sundays. Also, Roma tomatoes are best because there is more meat in them and less juice. At least that's my opinion. So start out by coring them (cut out the tomato belly button) and any bruised or weird parts (as the $5 basket tomatoes are sure to have).   

Then you're going to slice a not-too-deep X in the skin on the bottom of the tomato.

Get a pot of water boiling. Drop a few tomatoes at a time into the boiling water. And by drop, I mean lower with a spoon. Unless you would like boiling water splashed back up on your hand. Leave them in until the skin starts to blister and peel off at the X. (I think cookbooks would actually tell you to leave them in for a certain amount of time, but that never works for me. I just leave them in until they blister.) Once the skin starts to come away from the tomato, use your spoon to transfer the tomato to a bowl. Keep adding new tomatoes to the water until you're done.

Let the tomatoes cool a bit. (Or don't, as I'm demonstrating in the picture below. But be prepared to scald your fingertips off if you do it my way.) Once they're cool enough to work with go ahead and peel the skin off the tomatoes. It should be pretty easy.

There you go. A bowl full of naked tomatoes. If you want, you can then squeeze each tomato to get rid of most of the juice and seeds that are inside. After that I usually freeze mine and use them instead of canned tomatoes. This way I avoid all the "AHHH! THERE'S BPA LEAKING INTO YOU CANNED TOMATOES GIVING YOU TERRIBLE HEALTH PROBLEMS AND GENERALLY CORRUPTING THE MORAL FIBER OF OUR CHILDREN!" insanity that is being reported these days. Then I use the tomatoes for sauce, ketchup, whatever as the need arises. I can usually complete the whole process during one Law and Order rerun. Avoiding BPA health risks and learning to never ever trust my rich college friend when she offers to take over managing my escort service (you will die. guaranteed. law and order has proven it as fact.) makes for a pretty productive Sunday afternoon in my book.

With some of your peeled tomatoes you could jump right into making ketchup to replace the Heinz in your fridge door. I used the recipe here. (Hint: that was a link.) It doesn't taste exactly like Heinz. But it does taste like tomatoes and is good on burgers. Seriously, last weekend I had a grass-fed beef burger on a homemade bun with homemade ketchup and homemade mustard. There are no words. No words.

Or you could skip all of this tomato nonsense and just watch Law and Order. Am I the only one that goes through tons and tons of tomatoes? Or am I just the only one that would go to all this trouble to avoid canned tomatoes?


  1. Replies
    1. nope, it's a little different. more flavor and not as sweet. but really great on burgers!