Photo courtesy of tasteoftanzania.com
ah ...Tomatoes

Our tomatoes are finally ripening, faster than we can eat them - sliced, dressed with good olive oil and topped with Breton sea salt, is our daily favorite! But now it’s time to think about preserving some of this wonderful fruit for winter dishes. And one of the simplest methods is to can whole or chopped tomatoes: pints or quarts can form the basis for many dishes, and look lovely too - reminding you of summer during those cold dark winter months.

And here’s today’s Cool Tip: the simple but often-overlooked technique for peeling tomatoes. Some people have always peeled tomatoes with a knife, even before eating them raw in salad, but that requires advanced degrees in patience and knife skills that we don’t have! But peeling is an essential preliminary step to canning tomatoes, and to many other recipes for puree, sauce, ketchup, jam, and such: all variations of liquefied, processed preserved tomatoes.

Peeling is simple: select firm ripe tomatoes and cut a small “X” on the bottom. Then plunge them into boiling salted water for 15-30 seconds. The timing will vary with the variety of tomato, its skin thickness, and its ripeness. Lift out of the water with a slotted spoon and place into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and cool the fruit. Then peel the tomatoes beginning on the four rolled-back corners of the “X”. Let the water return to a boil and if the peeling was not smooth, then leave the next batch in the boiling water a little longer. If the peeling went ‘mushy’ then less time is indicated. This method should leave the tomato intact, so it can also be used for raw tomato dishes as well.

And enjoy summer’s bounty in those dark winter days, to tide you over until next summer’s crop!