Sowing Tomatoes Is a Waste of Time (and Taste)

In high season, tomatoes don’t need anything but salt, pepper, and maybe a little olive oil to really shine. Why, then, in recipes for fresh tomato sauce, do you peel, core, seeds and otherwise such a beautiful ingredient?

As it turns out, peeling and sowing tomatoes for a sauce isn’t just a tedious task; according to Cook’s Illustrated , this is seriously detrimental to the finished product. This is because the skins, pulp, and gelatinous “guts” surrounding the seeds contain different distributions of aromatic compounds that give ripe tomatoes an amazing taste. Throwing the skins and seeds in the sink creates a mild sauce, but most of what you throw away is flavor . This is doubly true for the intestines, which is the only part of the tomato that contains umami compounds. In retrospect, it’s incredibly obvious: the mealy, pale pink plates we pick from burgers in January are clearly devoid of juiciness, while ripe tomatoes are so packed with delicious jelly that they look like balloons about to burst.

Even if you prefer the texture of seedless tomato sauce, it just doesn’t make sense to throw away the tastiest part with the seeds. Cook’s Illustrated offers the best of both worlds approach, which involves straining the guts over a bowl to collect all of this umami-rich jelly, which you then mix into the sauce before serving to maximize that fresh tomato flavor. Sounds great, but if you’ve been avoiding making fresh tomato sauce because you’re damn lazy, just leave the seeds in – your sauce will taste better.


Leave a Reply