Why You Need To Peel Tomatoes Before Canning Them

One problem that occurs for many first time gardeners is figuring out what to do with the almost absurd number of tomatoes that ripen simultaneously in late Summer. Sure, you can make sauces, salads, and eat them raw, but even fresh tomatoes get old after a while. The best answer to this problem is to can that growing stash of flavorful red fruits. For the uninitiated though, this can be a taxing and arduous task.

Besides finding, sanitizing, and storing all of the jars, canned tomatoes have another extra step that scares off many — skinning. Skinning tomatoes is not as simple as taking a peeler across their surface. It's a multi-step process that involves scoring, blanching, and then peeling the tomatoes. While this might seem like a lot of work, it will be well worth it to have delicious tomatoes from high summer during winter's dark days. According to the Guardian, canned tomatoes have all of the fruit's usual benefits like vitamins C, E, and K, but also have a higher percentage of the antioxidant Lycopene (via WebMD). Lycopene is better absorbed after it's been heated which is an essential part of canning, and also peeling your tomatoes.

Tomato's bitter flavors are in their skin

One of the most important reasons to skin tomatoes before canning them is safety. According to the USDA's guide to home canning, it's important to peel root vegetables and tomatoes before canning them because much of the bacteria lives on the skin. Proper canning should kill off most of the bacteria present, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

The second reason is that it makes your tomatoes taste better. Gardener's Yard notes that much of a tomato's bitter flavors are present in the fruit's skin and seeds. If you want the best final product you can get, you'll want to remove those flavors before putting them into storage. The Guardian reports that those flavors grow more bitter over time, or when slowly cooked. Excess skins also don't break down very well. That means tomato heavy recipes could have chewy bits of the bitter skin floating around in them.

While skinning the tomatoes might take a long time, it is an important step for canning tomatoes. It ensures that the jar you're opening in winter is safe to consume, and will also taste just as delicious as you remember it.