Peeling tomatoes eliminates the tough skin, which can contribute an unappealing texture in some dishes. Seeding them also makes for a smoother texture, and eliminates any bitter taste that can linger in the seeds. If you are a gardener and have an excess of ripe, fresh tomatoes—or if you are an avid patron of a local farmers’ market and you have purchased someone else’s excess—peeling and seeding them is the first step in storing them. They can be kept in sealable bags or airtight containers for up to six months. Or, use them immediately in chili, stews and any recipe that calls for fresh or canned diced tomatoes, such as salsa or fresh tomato sauce.
Before you start, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place a large bowl of ice water next to the stove. Using a sharp paring knife, core the tomatoes and score a small “X” into the flesh on the bottom.
Place the tomatoes in the boiling water, in batches, until the skins are slightly loosened, 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to the ice water and let sit in the water for 1 minute before removing.
Place a sieve over a bowl; working over it, peel the tomatoes using a paring knife, and let the skins fall into the sieve.
Halve the tomatoes crosswise and scoop out the seeds with a hooked finger, letting the sieve catch the seeds. Press the seeds and skins to extract any extra juice.