The Microwave Hack To Peel Tomatoes In A Flash

There are some things you should never put in the microwave, and fruit is one of them, but we're just going to say a tomato is a vegetable for convenience. If you need to peel a tomato, your microwave can help you do it in a flash. Just follow this simple process.

First, run the tomato under cold water to clean it and then chop off the stem. Next, use a knife to slice an "X" into the bottom of the tomato and make some little cuts near top. This will allow steam to escape (without blowing up your tomato) as it warms. Afterward, put the tomato in the microwave on a safe dish and nuke it on full power for about half a minute; the exact amount of time needed may vary based on tomato size, so keep an eye on the tomato to make sure it's not cooking. Be certain to let the tomato cool off before grabbing it, since the thing will be warm (a quick ice bath can help). Once it's no longer too hot to handle, the tomato skin should be wrinkly enough for you to peel off with your fingers or a utensil.

That's not the only way to peel a tomato, though. You can also zap multiple at a time by cutting the tomatoes in half, placing them face-down on a dish, and increasing the warm-up time to about a minute. However, the tomato-peeling options don't stop there.

There are many ways to peel a tomato

If you don't have a microwave handy, don't fret. Alternatives include blanching, freezing, roasting, torching, and even just peeling the tomato without any preparation. That last option is the simplest but arguably the hardest. Using a sharp kitchen utensil or your hands, you can sometimes take the skin off of particularly firm tomatoes.

As for blanching, you'll want to follow a similar process as the microwave way, but replace the microwave with a pot of boiling water. In that scenario, the temperature may be higher, so be sure to use an ice bath and perhaps even shorten the warm-up time. Freezing meanwhile, is just what it sounds like. Toss your tomatoes in the freezer until you're ready to run them under hot water or leave them out for several minutes until they thaw. Defrosting them like this loosens up the skin.

Roasting, on the other hand, employs the oven to broil halved tomatoes for a dozen or so minutes. You'll know the skins are ready to be removed once they've darkened. Last but not least, you can use a blow torch or gas burner to char scored tomatoes until their skins are ready to fall off if washed.

The microwave method would appear to be the quickest by far. Is any of this really necessary, though?

Why get rid of tomato skins?

If you're in a hurry or are simply looking for ways to put less effort into cooking, you can probably skip peeling your tomatoes. However, if you are willing and able, there are several good reasons to do this. Unlike the rest of the sweet and tangy tomato, its skin is bitter, which might not be desirable for whatever dish you're making. Additionally, tomato skin doesn't blend easily into smooth dishes, so it's not ideal for salsas, sauces, or soups. While peeling a tomato isn't a necessity, it is a relatively easy way for chefs to elevate their cooking beyond tasting average.

One other reason to get rid of tomato skin is that it's technically non-digestible. Just like beans, corn, peas, quinoa, and sesame seeds, the skin of vegetables such as bell peppers and tomatoes are high-fiber foods your body won't digest. Fiber is important, but too much of a good thing is — of course — a bad thing. So, if your stomach is upset or you just want to improve your cooking, do yourself a favor and peel your tomatoes. That's exactly what your microwave is there for.