For all purpose use in a variety of recipes, plain, unseasoned stewed tomatoes (or more simply ‘canned diced tomatoes’ — provided that you are actually canning them) — fill lots of recipe niches.
There are those who argue for over ripened tomatoes for these but normal ripeness will work just fine.
You’ll want to remove the stems and then also the skins. Peeling is easiest to do if you slice an “X” into the skin then drop them (carefully) into a pot of boiling water. Then turn the heat off. Let them sit for no more than three minutes or just until you notice the skin, where the “X” slice was made, starting to come away. Drain. Allow to cool until no longer hot but still slightly warm to the touch. Peel away!
If in a hurry, you can do an ice water bath or “shock” them as I call it. But the idea is to have outsides cool enough to handle while still warm but not overly hot inside for easiest peeling. If they get too cold then they will not peel as easily.
Unlike tomato sauce, you do not want to keep the heat going on the boiling water for diced tomatoes. With sauce it doesn’t hurt to have them ‘cook’ a bit before peeling. But you want to keep diced tomatoes firmer than that. It is also one of the reasons I don’t mind using tomatoes that are ripe but not over ripened for this recipe but I want over ripe ones for making tomato sauce.
Slice into approximately 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch cubes. It doesn’t have to all be perfectly sized or shaped — nor will it be as you get to those curved outer edges. Don’t cut the majority of the tomato any smaller or you could end up with more of a chunky tomato sauce instead (unless that is what you are going for).
NOTE: If desired, you can slice in half first and remove seeds then strain them to keep as much of the surrounding pulp as possible. As for me, I don’t bother. And I use Roma or if possible certain heirloom tomatoes to avoid having to remove all the tough, woody greenish, white, or beige center parts but if you are using other varieties you may need to do just that. Most of the tomato varieties today have lots of woody parts and tendrils inside unlike “in the old days” when tomatoes only needed the stems removed and for recipes like this one the skins. Otherwise the skins just cook and peel away floating to the top — possibly — but not always, which is why we peel them to avoid it and also because skins may be tender or they may turn out somewhat chewy or tough, depending upon age and variety, unless being used in longer cooking recipes such as spaghetti sauces that slowly simmer for several hours. If you know that is what you are going to be using these for then by all means skip the peeling! I certainly do in that case!
Place your diced tomatoes and all the juice and pulp into a saucepan.
Bring to a boil on moderate heat setting, add 1/4 tsp salt — to help pull the juices out more for the tomatoes to bath in faster rather than for seasoning purposes so no risk of over cooking into mushy sauce before enough of the juice happens, then reduce to low heat and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. (If canning, go the full ten minutes).
Congratulations! You’ve just made unseasoned stewed tomatoes!
While still hot, pour into hot sterilized canning jars and proceed with proper canning technique and you will have made “canned diced tomatoes” which can be stored at room temperature for 12 to 18 months.
Update: They no longer recommend canning tomatoes unless lemon juice is added and only fresh tomatoes are used! GMO tomatoes today have a different acidity and we now have “super bugs” so previous canning recipes and methods are no longer recommended.
Otherwise, if planning to use within the week, pour your “unseasoned stewed tomatoes” into a clean jar to be refrigerated up to a week.
Unseasoned Stewed or Canned Diced Tomatoes
- peeled, skinned, diced tomatoes
- 1/4 tsp salt (not for seasoning but to leach fluids from tomato meat/pulp)
Prepare tomatoes by removing skins, stems, and any woody components within the core. Removing seeds is optional but if so be sure to preserve as much pulp as possible.
Place in saucepan with salt and bring to boil. Gently stir, only once it has reached the boiling point, very briefly.
Reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes. Do not stir until finished cooking then stir gently and briefly.
Pour into hot sterilized jars and proceed with proper canning technique. Be sure there is enough tomato liquid/juice to cover the tomatoes in each jar. Or if planning to use within the week, pour into clean jar, cap it, and store in the refrigerator.