In a section about cold stuffed tomatoes in "Joy of Cooking" (Doubleday: 1986), authors Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker write: "A bit of tomato skin was once as much out of place at a dinner table as a bowie knife. The discovery that tomato skins contain highly valued vitamins makes them salon-fahig (acceptable)--so whether to serve tomatoes skinned or unskinned rests with the hostess's sense of delicacy or her nutritional single-mindedness."
The choice of whether or not to skin tomatoes may not be yours, however, in recipes where tomatoes are cooked. Often they need to be peeled to eliminate any pieces of skin ending up in the finished dish or sauce.
After washing, there are two easy ways to remove the skin from tomatoes:
Flame Method: Spear the stem end of the tomato with a long-handled fork. Slowly rotate the tomato over an open flame (Photo 1) until the skin chars, blisters and splits. Plunge the tomato into ice water for a few seconds (Photo 2). Drain, then peel and core using a paring knife (Photo 3).
Boiling Water Method: Immerse the tomato in boiling water (Photo 4) for about one minute. Remove and plunge into ice water for a few seconds. Drain, then peel and core using a paring knife.
Requests for cooking techniques you would like explained may be sent to Back to Basics, Food Section, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053.