When you have a surplus of ripe tomatoes, making your own sauce is better than reaching for the canned variety. The first hurdle is deciding whether to peel the tomatoes or not for your pasta sauce. Let’s look at the difference between a sauce with skins compared to one without.
Peeling tomatoes for pasta sauces is very much a preference. Leaving the skins on causes them to curl up in the sauce, but some people like the texture and nutrients skins give. Most commonly it’s recommended to peel tomatoes when making sauces to avoid any stringy pieces.
Another point to mention is that the skins can make your sauce bitter – I think removing them makes a more premium sauce. This article has a load of information about making sauce with skins or not, instructions to peel them, and the best tomatoes to use.
So, it’s time to get cracking in the kitchen and turn all those beautiful tomatoes into your next delicious base sauce. Let’s take a look at the best practices for making tomato sauce.
What Happens If You Don’t Peel Tomatoes For Sauces?
Leaving the skin on the tomato will yield little curled pieces that float around your sauce. They don’t tend to break down from cooking so are usually still noticeable at the end.
Depending on how you chop your tomatoes up, you will be left with tough curled pieces of skin that add a fair bit of texture to your sauce. It is very much more rustic than fine dining.
I find that the skin of tomatoes gives the sauces a bit of a bitter taste compared to if the tomato was peeled beforehand. This is apparently due to a nutrient called flavonols which are found in the skins.
If you’ve got bitter tomatoes, check out my post on fixing a bitter tomato sauce for some great tips.
How To Make Tomato Sauce Without Peeling The Tomatoes?
If you are determined not to peel the tomatoes and find that the skin adds value and flavor to your sauce, then there are several ways you could overcome the irritation of the curled, stringy skin.
You can use a food processor or blender to reduce the tomato skin residue in your sauce. Generally, the longer you blend alters how smooth it is.
A few whirls of the blades will leave you with a rough texture. However, if you prefer a smoother texture, whirl the blade for a few seconds longer; this will leave you with a much finer mix with little or no traces of the skin.
Alternatively, use a box grater with the side of the large holes to grate your tomato will leave you with a heap of pulp that you can throw into the pot. The tiny pieces of skin that you did not peel will simply blend into the sauce and form part of the ingredients.
Should You Remove Seeds From Tomatoes When Making Sauce?
Removing tomato seeds is an extra effort but does give a smoother sauce with less bitterness. It is not an essential step and many recipes will keep the seeds in for the sauce.
Again it comes down to preference and how easy you want your sauce to be. I keep the seeds in when making a pasta sauce or pizza sauce and often just blend it until smooth. When making a Mexican salsa like “pico de gallo” then I usually remove the seeds and the watery insides as I prefer it dryer.
Some people don’t like the coarseness of the seed in pasta sauce, but with ripe tomatoes, if the sauce is adequately cooked, they aren’t too invasive.
Biting straight down on a tomato seed can be bitter in your mouth, but once you’ve cooked the sauce down and added other ingredients, can you really notice it?
If you want to remove the seeds you can cut the tomato in half and press or scoop out the watery seeds. This means the sauce has less water in it naturally so it is thicker and requires less reduction.
Removing the pulp and seeds of the tomato means removing the full flavors the tomato has to offer to the sauce.
How To Remove Tomato Skins And Seeds
It’s not as complicated as it sounds, nor as messy once you get the hang of it.
There are a few options for removing the skins and seeds of tomatoes. If you have an old–fashioned food mill, you could put your tomato through the mill, and it will remove most of the skins and seeds passing through the pulp of the tomato.
Another option is to blanch off the skins in hot water. First, run a knife around the top green core to remove it.
Next cut a shallow, small cross at the bottom of the tomato with a paring knife. Pop into boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds, or until you see the skin peel away from the tomato. Then run it under some cold tap water or ice water bath for 30 seconds until the skin starts to shrivel up.
After removing them from the water, peel the skin off from the shallow cross you cut in the bottom of your tomato. To remove the seeds, cut the tomatoes in half and scoop them out, leaving only the meat of the tomato.
Can I Freeze Whole Tomatoes For Sauce?
You can freeze whole tomatoes to cook them later, like for sauces. It’s a good way to preserve fresh tomatoes when you have a surplus supply of them. They are better cooked than eaten raw after freezing.
Freezing tomatoes destroys their structure so become soft after thawing. This means they aren’t best for salads, but they work great in cooking sauces, soups, or purees.
So if you are limited on time and can’t spend hours peeling your whole harvest, you can just as quickly freeze your tomatoes whole.
Use freezer-suitable storage containers and portion groups of tomatoes together which can be taken out for different recipes.
Remove the number of tomatoes you need for your sauce from the freezer and pop them in a bowl of cold tap water long enough for the outside layer to become soft. Remove them from the water, and then you can peel the skin off easily with your fingers.
Can You Use Any Tomatoes For Sauce?
You can use any tomato to make sauces, but plum tomatoes like Roma tomatoes and other paste tomatoes are best for sauces.
These types of tomatoes are best used in sauces as they are meatier and have very few seeds and little juice. This makes the cooking time shorter and it helps reduce the sauce into a thick paste.
Some of the best tomatoes to use for sauces, if you can find them or grow them, are:
- San Marzano is perfect for sauces due to its low water content.
- Roma is the classic tomato with its firm, thick flesh, and few seeds.
- Super Italian Paste is another beautiful fruit of reddish-orange color that is meaty with few seeds.
- Viva Italia – their excellent raw flavors that increase when cooked make this a favorite among most chefs.
- Big Mama is a large lemon-shaped tomato with easy skin to peel once boiled. It has a high meat density and few seeds.
- Amish Paste – very similar to the Roma tomato but offers a sweeter flavor than its counterpart.
If you are generally interested in when to use different tomato varieties in dishes, then check out my post on what tomatoes are best for different recipes.
Hopefully, now you know whether you need to peel tomatoes for pasta sauce. Making a delicious pasta sauce is like a work of art and depends on the artist’s desired outcome. If you prefer a chunky rustic style sauce and want to incorporate the skins for a more robust flavor, it is entirely up to you.
For the more delicate sauces that have a smooth texture, it is always best to remove the skins of the tomato. Use some of the tips in this article to remove all but the best flesh for your sauce.
Have any questions? Ask me in the comment section below and I’ll get back to you.
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