Fresh tomatoes on a table - overhead view

Guide: Prepping tomatoes

Fresh tomatoes stand as a cornerstone of culinary versatility, straddling the line between vegetable and fruit. Their ubiquity in kitchens worldwide is matched only by the nuanced challenge they present in preparation for a myriad of dishes. When it comes to mastering the art of tomato cuisine, Italy emerges as a frontrunner. In pursuit of this expertise, we turned to chef Nunzio Patruno of Nunzio Restaurant + Bar, who graciously shared his top five insights on handling fresh tomatoes. 

juicy red tomatoes in basket on wooden table

1. Never refrigerate tomatoes. “Leave them outside at room temperature, preferably in a dark area of the pantry,” Patruno said. 

Chef is peeling boiled tomatos

2. Blanche tomatoes before peeling. “Depending on what you are preparing the tomatoes for, take the tomato and score crisscross at the top of the tomato,” Patruno said. “Blanche for 50 seconds in boiling water, remove and place it into an ice bath. This process makes it easier to peel.”

3. There’s a rule of thumb for thickness. “Cutting tomato for a salad is simply cutting the tomato in 1/2-inch thickness,” Patruno said.

seeds removed from the tomatoes, home seed collection

4. When making sauce, remove the seeds. “Use a coffee teaspoon to spoon out the seeds first, then dice and prepare any way you like,” Patruno said.

blanched peeled tomatoes on wooden cutting board at domestic kitchen

5. The secret to smooth sauce involves some prep work. “Peel the tomato in advance, then dice, sauté with onions and add salt and pepper,” Patruno said. “Let simmer, and use a hand blender to smooth out or mash into chunks with a potato masher.”

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