How to Blanch Tomatoes

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How to Blanch Tomatoes and preserve your seasonal bounty. Florida is in full swing tomato season, friends, farmer’s markets and grocers are stocked to the rafters. 

Red, ripe and ready for so many great dishes, of course, even sliced with a shake of coarse sea salt and black pepper makes them sparkle and practically beg to be eaten! But sometimes their skins aren’t a welcome addition to a recipe.

Close-up of a fresh red tomato with water droplets, beside a bowl containing more tomatoes, on a white surface. The main tomato has been scored with an X from a sharp knife for blanching. A green picked tomato vine lays at the middle of the frame.
  1. Homemade Tomato Sauce: Use blanched tomatoes as the base for a rich and flavorful tomato sauce. Simmer with garlic, onions, herbs, and spices for a classic marinara or arrabbiata sauce.

  2. Fresh Salsa: Chop blanched tomatoes and combine with diced onions, jalapeños, cilantro, lime juice, and salt for a vibrant and zesty salsa.

  3. Tomato Soup: Blend blanched tomatoes with broth, cream, and seasonings to create a velvety smooth tomato soup.

  4. Bruschetta: Top toasted bread slices with diced blanched tomatoes, garlic, basil, olive oil, and balsamic glaze for a tasty appetizer.

  5. Caprese Salad: Layer sliced blanched tomatoes with fresh mozzarella, basil leaves, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar for a simple and elegant Caprese salad.

  6. Tomato Tart: Arrange sliced blanched tomatoes on puff pastry, sprinkle with cheese, and bake for a delicious savory tart.

  7. Stuffed Tomatoes: Hollow out blanched tomatoes and fill them with a mixture of breadcrumbs, herbs, cheese, and other fillings for a flavorful side dish or appetizer.

  8. Tomato Bruschetta Pasta: Toss blanched tomatoes with cooked pasta, garlic, olive oil, and fresh herbs for a quick and flavorful pasta dish.

  9. Tomato and Avocado Salad: Combine diced blanched tomatoes with sliced avocado, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, and salt for a refreshing salad.

  10. Tomato Basil Risotto: Stir chopped blanched tomatoes into risotto along with fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, and vegetable broth for a creamy and comforting dish.

Top Tomato Varieties for Blanching

  1. Roma Tomatoes: Known for their meaty texture and low moisture content, Roma tomatoes are ideal for blanching. They are commonly used for making tomato sauce, paste, and canning.

  2. San Marzano Tomatoes: Similar to Roma tomatoes, San Marzano tomatoes have a dense flesh and rich flavor, making them perfect for blanching and preserving. They are favored for their use in sauces and soups.

  3. Amish Paste Tomatoes: These heirloom tomatoes have a high solids content and are excellent for blanching. They are prized for their robust flavor and are often used in sauces and canning.

  4. Plum Tomatoes: Plum tomatoes, such as the Napoli variety, are elongated with fewer seeds and less water content, making them well-suited for blanching. They are commonly used in sauces, salsa, and canning.

  5. Cherry Tomatoes: While not traditionally used for blanching in large quantities, cherry tomatoes can be blanched whole or halved for use in salads, pasta dishes, and bruschetta. Varieties like Sweet 100 and Sungold are popular choices.

Tip: When peeling tomatoes for canning or freezing, it’s essential to plunge them into an ice bath immediately after boiling for 30-60 seconds. This halts the cooking process and prevents them from becoming mushy. In my case, I was preparing our Restaurant Style Salsa, so I allowed the tomatoes to rest for a minute before removing the skins and proceeding with the recipe.

Close-up of a ripe blanched, glossy red tomato with soft-focus background, highlighting its vibrant color and fresh appearance. The skin is split in an artful pattern up the center in a wavy line, from being blanched.

Safely Storing Blanched Tomatoes

  1. Cooling Process: After blanching tomatoes, allow them to cool completely at room temperature before proceeding with storage.

  2. Refrigeration: Place cooled blanched tomatoes in airtight containers or resealable plastic bags. Store them in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

  3. Freezing: For longer-term storage, arrange cooled blanched tomatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Then transfer them to freezer-safe bags or containers, removing as much air as possible before sealing. Frozen blanched tomatoes can last for up to 12 months in the freezer.

  4. Labeling: Don’t forget to label containers or bags with the date of blanching for easy identification and rotation.

Do You Need to Core Tomatoes After Blanching?

After blanching tomatoes, whether or not you need to core them depends on your intended use and personal preference:

  1. For Cooking: If you’re using blanched tomatoes in sauces, soups, or other cooked dishes, coring is often unnecessary. The heat of cooking will soften and break down the core.

  2. For Slicing and Salads: If you plan to use blanched tomatoes for fresh applications like slicing or in salads, you may prefer to core them to remove the tough center and any residual seeds.

  3. Personal Preference: Ultimately, coring blanched tomatoes is optional and based on personal preference. Some people prefer to core for aesthetic reasons or to ensure a smoother texture in cooked dishes.

Tip: Avoid refrigerating tomatoes once they’re harvested, as it can compromise their texture and flavor. Instead, store them in a cool, dry area with the stem side down, arranged in a single layer. Avoid stacking, as it can lead to mushiness, which is not ideal for enjoying fresh tomatoes.

How to Blanch Tomatoes

  1. Boil a large pot of water.
  2. Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice water.
  3. Score the bottom of each tomato with a shallow “X” using a sharp knife.
  4. Place the tomatoes in the boiling water for 30-60 seconds, or until you see the skins start to peel back.
  5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to the ice bath to cool quickly and stop the cooking process.
  6. Once cooled, remove the tomatoes from the ice bath and peel off the skins starting from the scored “X”.
  7. Optionally, core the tomatoes if desired.
  8. Your blanched tomatoes are now ready to be used in your recipe or preserved for later use.
Close-up of a fresh red tomato with water droplets, beside a bowl containing more tomatoes, on a white surface. The main tomato has been scored with an X from a sharp knife for blanching. A green picked tomato vine lays at the top of the frame.

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    1. I love all the tips on blanching tomatoes. I’m going to have to give this a try!

      1. So glad that you found it helpful, Erika! 🙂

    2. This is so very helpful! Thank you for sharing all of this great information!

      1. So glad that you found it helpful, Morgan! 🙌

    3. So useful, thank you!!

      1. Glad you liked it, Jennifer! 🙂

    4. I avoid cans so I have been buying jarred tomates and it is expensive! Now that I see how easy they are to make, I think I’ll try it myself!

      1. Great, Kim, I’m so glad that you found this helpful! I promise it’s easy and a great way to preserve a bounty of tomatoes 🙂

    5. You’d think after 22 years teaching chemistry I’d have heard of the Maillard reaction, but nope. Fascinating. Also never scored the bottoms of our tomatoes in all the years of blanching them growing up. This is so much fun!

      1. Wow, Beth, it’s exciting to me that you’ve learned about the Maillard reaction on our website! You know science was my favorite subject, and it really goes hand in hand with cooking and baking. Thank you so much for letting me know! 🙌🤗

    6. I just needed a refresher but I was so happy to read that I didn’t need the ice bath if I was continuing on to make sauce. Cut prep time substantially.

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