How to peel and seed fresh tomatoes

Vine-ripened tomatoes

In summer and early fall, tomatoes are at their peak — at least in my stomping grounds. To me that means only one thing: tomato sauce season is here again at last!

Peeling and seeding: a crucial step to making the perfect tomato sauce

One of the important techniques in making sauce with fresh tomatoes is peeling and seeding the fruits. I’m often surprised to learn how many cooks never perform this step – which, as simple as it is, is nonetheless crucial to making the perfect sauce.

Peel and seed your tomatoes by hand… it’s worth it!

No matter how many tomatoes I have to make sauce with (and I’ve been known to tackle a couple hundred pounds at a time!), I always do the peeling and seeding by hand. Why not use a machine, you might ask? For the simple reason that doing it this way makes for a sauce with lots of body and texture. I won’t have it any other way.

So here’s a simple way to peel and seed tomatoes. The whole process takes only a few minutes, yet will give you fleshy slices and deliciously sweet, fresh tomato juice.

If your recipe doesn’t call for the juice, save it to make gazpacho or cocktails… You’ll be amazed how mouth-watering your Bloody Mary will be!

How to peel and seed fresh tomatoes


6 cups peeled slices & 3/4 cup strained juice

Prep time

20 minutes


  • 3 lbs (1.4 kg) ripe tomatoes (8 medium)


  • Fill a bowl with cold water and add several ice cubes. Set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While waiting for the water to boil, make an incision with a paring knife, in the shape of a cross, at the top of each tomato. Once the water is boiling, plunge the tomatoes in the water and boil for 30 seconds to 1 minute until the skins start to peel back (the riper the tomato and the thinner the skins, the faster the skins will peel back). Immediately transfer the tomatoes to the iced water and let stand for a minute or two until cooled.
  • Drain the tomatoes and remove the skins, they should come right off. Once peeled, halve the tomatoes and remove the core. Cut each half in segments and remove the seeds pushing the seeds and their juices out with your thumb. Place seeds and juices in a medium sieve and stir until all the juices have been strained. Discard seeds. You end up with 6 cups of peeled slices and 3/4 cup of their juices, all free of seeds. You are ready to make sauce, gazpacho and many other wonderful creations!
Beefsteak tomato


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  19. Beautiful photos. Informative post. I love your blog! Adding it to my links page. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Amazing how many people don’t know this technique for tomatoes…thanks for laying it out so clearly!

  21. Very nice photos….and it really helped me in peeling of the tomatoes easily….waiting for some more instructive photos..Thanks.

  22. Wow, I always wondered how to do this. You explain so simply also. Thanks for the great tip! I’m definately going to try this the next time I make sauce.

  23. Really instructive photos. I was just visiting an Italian friend who makes large batches of tomato based dishes (what a surprise) and he has a small crank machine that does it really fast; tomatoes come out one end and skin and seeds the other. I thought I’d try that when I can sauce next time. The tomatoes get pureed so it’s only useful if you don’t need them in pieces.

    • Hello Cynthia, Thank you for stopping by! It is always good to see you here.

      To each his/her own, of course. I know the machines skin the tomatoes quickly, but as I mention in my blog, they do not make the very best sauces, in my opinion. I also like to get rid of the seeds as they are a bit bitter.

  24. Thank you for those helpful tips! 🙂

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