I sautee them in olive oil and salt and they turn out great except for the fact that they are too juicy. If I could just get the juice out, they would be perfect.

I had some tomato basil pasta the other day at a restaurant and the sauteed tomatoes were done just right (without too much juice). My wife claimed that they used tomato paste in their pasta (and in all marinara sauces as well). If this is true, I would like to be able to cook my tomatoes without the aid of tomato paste. Or, alternatively, I would like to make my own tomato paste from scratch (if this is the only option).

  • Are you using a specific variety of tomatoes? How long are you sauteeing and what final texture are you aiming for?
    – logophobe
    Jun 6, 2014 at 18:06
  • @logophobe Good questions! I've only used grape tomatoes cut in half. However, I plan on using roma tomatoes from here on out. I don't know how long I sautee them for. Long enough for the skin to get wrinkly and easy to slide off. I'm guess ~4-6 min range. How to describe the texture?... Think of chunky, jarred marinara sauce whit large pieces of cooked tomato in it. That's about what I'm going for. (I actually am quite pleased with the textures I've obtained so far. Just too much juice!) Jun 6, 2014 at 18:33
  • EDIT: @logophobe When I use the jarred marinara sauce to describe the texture I want, I mean to just think of the chunks within the sauce. I'm not trying to reproduce the sauce itself. Jun 6, 2014 at 18:38

4 Answers 4


When tomatoes are used as a vegetable in a dish that does need extra water, I will often de-seed my tomatoes. For example, when I put them in an omelet.

The process is simple. Just cut the tomato in half and sweep and the seeds and pulp. Use the remaining flesh as a vegetable.

This technique will work with any tomato but obviously some are better suited for it than others. The meatier the tomato the more will be left. Juicy delicate tomatoes won't have much flesh remaining.

Another tradeoff is that the bulk of the fresh, tomato flavor is found in the juicy pulp that is being discarded. I've tried to boil off the water and put the resulting "sauce" back in but I found it wasn't worth the effort.

  • The thing I don't like about that is that the gel has a lot of flavor. From what I understand (America's Test Kitchen maybe?) the gel actually has more flavor than the meat. Salting gets rid of a lot of the water, without sacrificing flavor.
    – Jolenealaska
    Jun 6, 2014 at 22:43
  • @Jolenealaska- I mentioned that in my answer. The salting idea is interesting. I'm looking forward to trying it but 20 minutes is kind of a long time for the kind of dishes I usually need this for. How much water actually gets drawn out in that little time? Jun 6, 2014 at 23:10
  • A lot. I use tomatoes in grilled sandwiches. If I take the time to salt them they don't make the sandwich soggy, but they still taste fresh and raw. It's one of those things that made such a difference the first time I did it, that I almost always do it now. Even for salads. I usually let salted tomato slices sit on paper towels. The towels get drenched, but with clear water, not tomato gel. Use Kosher salt and you can just brush off the excess when they are done draining. The remaining salt on the tomato is nice.
    – Jolenealaska
    Jun 6, 2014 at 23:27
  • @Jolenealaska : just because it's clear doesn't mean it's only water. There's actually something called 'tomato water' where you blend the tomatoes, then strain it ... the liquid's clear, but has a ton of tomato flavor. If you remove the gel and seeds, you can always strain it and save it for some other use. (I remember seeing an episode of "Made in Spain" where José Andrés had sliced the tomatoes so he could lift out the gel to use in ... something, but I can't remember what. (likely a tapas of some sort, as that's what he's known for)
    – Joe
    Jun 7, 2014 at 1:03
  • It might be worth salting tomatoes over a wire rack over a baking sheet, then saving the remaining juice to see how flavorful it is. I'm not volunteering - personally I'm not a big fan of raw tomato.
    – logophobe
    Jun 7, 2014 at 14:43

In addition to what's already been mentioned, try salting or brining them (any kind of tomato), before draining them. That will cause them to release more water and become more concentrated in flavor. See also Keeping scrambled eggs with tomatoes from being too watery.

  • Oops. I fixed the brining link.
    – Jolenealaska
    Jun 6, 2014 at 23:38

First off, tomato paste is sometimes helpful but definitely not essential for making a tomato sauce; see this answer in another thread.

In my experience, grape tomatoes tend to have a pretty high ratio of internal goo around the seeds, within what is technically called the locular cavity (who knew?) This stuff has very little in the way of structure and tends to break down into a watery mess when cooked. Fortunately, switching to Roma tomatoes will help with this; they and other plum tomatoes have less of this stuff since they're intended primarily for sauce applications. Less goo equals less moisture starting off.

My first instinct to address extra juice would simply be to pour or strain it off. If you strain over a work bowl or vessel of some kind, you could easily add it back to your own preference.

You could also try dehydrating the tomatoes in a low oven first to drive off some of their moisture, then finishing them in the pan. This does of course cook them somewhat, so you'll need to back off on your saute. Alternatively, you may even find that roasting the tomatoes without any saute at all produces a similar result with a deeper flavor. You will lose some of that "fresh" flavor that you're keeping by giving the tomatoes a quick saute, but it all depends on what you're going for.

  • I think that often the varieties of tomatoes in big supermarkets tend to have been selected for size and color, and end up a bit more watery when cooked; if you have access to something good from a farmer's market it may be even better than just switching to romas.
    – Cascabel
    Jun 6, 2014 at 20:14

Besides the comments that have been mentioned in preparing the tomatoes before cooking (I highly suggest pulling out the seeds & jelly like substance around them, as Sobachatina mentioned):

I find that high heat, so you just cook the outside, without breaking down the middle of the chunks of tomato also helps.

The high heat will also help to boil/reduce any juices that come out, but you have to use the proper sized vessel for the amount of tomato -- too large a pan with too much heat might get some burning, while too small of a pan will cause the tomatoes to be steamed, as the moisture can't escape quickly.

  • There's a lot of flavor in that gel.
    – Jolenealaska
    Jun 6, 2014 at 22:47

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