Tuesday, August 28, 2007

De-seeding tomatoes

A feature that marks out a chef's cookery book from one written with the home cook in mind is the instruction to de-seed tomatoes. People in professional kitchens may be comfortable with throwing away half the vegetable (fruit, if you like); to the home cook, it seems both fussy and wasteful.

There is a case to be made for throwing away the seeds and jelly if you are incorporating the tomato in a sandwich. You might not want the juice to dilute a salad; but in that case the better option, in my view, is to fold in the tomatoes at the last minute -- or to rest them on top. Perhaps you do not want seeds in a sauce. You might sieve them, retaining the jelly; but surely that is a ridiculous effort.

I am delighted to see that Harold McGee, the food science guru, endorses my laziness. Here, he reports on some research prompted by Heston Blumenthal: the researchers found that the jelly of the tomato contained more flavour than the flesh.

Here is an easy tomato sauce, the method for which I read about in one of Nigel Slater's books. Soften a chopped garlic clove in a tbsp of olive oil; throw in four chopped tomatoes with a little salt (if the tomatoes are unripe, you might add a tsp of sugar), and simmer until the tomatoes have broken down and the sauce has thickened. Pass the sauce through a vegetable mill. Check the seasoning. If the sauce seems thin, simmer it for a little longer.


Anonymous said...

So, Nicholas, re: deseeding tomatoes -- is your point that seeds should be included with the jelly and the flesh say in making tomato pasta sauce? I get the "lazy" part -- my mother referred to me as a "sit down" cook :-) But it felt like a bit of a disconnect between the title of this blog piece and the body of the piece as "deseeding" was not clearly mentioned. Btw: I too am a big fan of Harold M.
I await your response.
Jennifer in Minneapolis, MN

Nicholas Clee said...

Sorry it's not clear, Jennifer: what I was trying to say was that I do not think that it's necessary to deseed the tomatoes when making a tomato sauce. I am never bothered by their presence.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the clarification, Nicholas. Today's the day I make my first batch of tomato sauce. The tomatoes are from our new organic garden. And thanks to a bountiful herb garden I'll be adding rosemary and basil (lemon, genovese (my favorite), "regular").
Thanks to your blog post and the link to Harold's I can explain to my dinner guests the value of leaving the seeds in the sauce.
I look forward to exploring your other blog posts -- once our garden has been put to bed for the winter!

Nicholas Clee said...

This sounds delicious, Jennifer. I hope the seeds don't spoil it!

Best wishes