I tried a couple of recipes which demanded tomato puree which was eventually cooked as part of the gravy. The gravy turned sour even after cooking it covered for more than 15 minutes. Is that because I didn't get rid of the skin and the seeds? Is that why they remove skin and seeds after boiling them for making puree? I wonder if it's just for texture or for taste too. Also, recipes like butter chicken require ripe tomatoes. But even after using somewhat ripe tomatoes (directly blended in a mixer), the gravy stays sour. What exactly goes wrong here? I've seen a couple of recipes of butter chicken from decent sources that use a large number of tomatoes (e.g. this recipe uses 12 tomatoes for 400 gm boneless chicken), I just wonder why the heck it doesn't turn sour in their case? I know they add honey and cream, but still.

Too many questions I guess in one go, but they are closely related according to me.

Edit - At least the red-looking tomatoes that we get here in India have sour/tangy taste. But they are still eatable when raw. But a large quantity of tomatoes should make the gravy sour, shouldn't they? I wonder why they don't when chefs follow those recipes. Not sure if any of you guys have experienced this issue before.

Also, the reason I ask about tomatoes and sour gravies in the same question is that, is it just about ripeness of tomatoes or the way of cooking/pureeing them which makes difference to the sourness of the gravy.

  • How do the tomatoes taste if you just eat them fresh? Is it actually getting more sour as you cook it?
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 18:00
  • Also, yes, this is too many questions. I would strongly suggest splitting the "why remove skin and seeds?" from "why is my gravy sour?"
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 18:01
  • @Jefromi I agree to some extent, but I would like to get views around significance of ripe tomatoes and the ways of cooking/pureeing them while preparing gravies. Hence, the combined question :)
    – Swapnil
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 18:24
  • It is true that the gel surrounding the seeds is sourer than the rest of the tomato. That might have some effect. However, the rest of the tomato is also somewhat sour. So is canned puréed tomato. I have to say, though, that I think there is nothing wrong with an acidic twang to gravy; why do you feel there is anything wrong with that?
    – Cerberus
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 19:43
  • The problem is when it's too sour. And recipes like butter chicken are not supposed to taste sour (the way I've tasted in restaurants) at all. I've started wondering if cooking diced tomatoes, then blending and straining the seeds and skin will help me out. Am gonna try that in my next attempt. I hope I'm gonna be patient, few more times.
    – Swapnil
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 19:55

3 Answers 3


For whatever reason, the brand of tinned tomatoes I used to buy regularly had somewhat bitter-tasting seeds; the flavour was definitely present in pureed soups / sauces.

I used to squeeze them all out by hand, but some still made it into my precious San Marzano tomato sauces.

Then I found the perfect tool for skinning and seeding larger quantities of tomatoes: the food mill.

For the next several years, I dutifully used my mill to remove seeds from my favorite brand of (already skinned) tinned tomatoes - boring, yes, but the bitterness was gone.

Sometime during this period, I switched to a different brand of tomatoes. Then I got bored of the food mill, and pureed them whole again... with no bitterness.

The moral of the story? Eat some of the seeds! If they're bitter, get rid of them before you puree. If you don't really notice, then don't bother.

My food mill still makes great mashed potatoes. Or are they milled potatoes?

  • Great story! Welcome to the site, Ben. Commented Jul 26, 2014 at 10:12

From a soup/sauce perspective, the reasons you may want to remove the seeds and skin:

  • They taste bad/different to you.
  • You don't like the texture they add.
  • You are trying to impress someone. I think a smoother product is nicer.

If none of these bother you, don't bother. There's no reason you should't eat all of a tomato.


To remove the skin, cut a cross in the bottom of the tomato and blanche them. The skin should come off readily.

To get rid of the seeds, I would suggest cutting the top and bottom off of the tomato. So you have a barrel shape. Cut enough off so that you can see the seeds from both ends. Now you can cut around the cluster of seeds in the middle. Save the seeds for a stock.


It is possible that the tomatoes you are using are under ripe, however could I suggest another possibility, are you using an aluminium pan? Tomatoes are acidic, and they can react with the metal in an aluminium cooking pot to change the flavour in a way that might taste unpleasant or metalic.


If it is not the pan, then you should concider the variety of tomato you are using, if available try using smaller cherry tomatoes which are sweeter, or if using bigger beef tomatoes try adding a pinch of granulated sugar whilst cooking.

  • Thanks for the tip. I've been using non-stick pan, so that's not a possibility. I guess it has to do with the variety of tomatoes then!
    – Swapnil
    Commented Jul 26, 2014 at 5:10
  • 2
    Sorry, this is chemically impossible. Tomatoes in aluminium will become less acidic, not more - their acid will react to metal salts. These are unpleasant tasting by themselves, but the resulting taste won't be described as sour, and the pH will go up, not down.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Jul 26, 2014 at 6:23
  • @rumtscho - edited, meant to say metalic, not acidic. Ty for highlighting that. Commented Jul 27, 2014 at 10:47
  • @MartinJevon OK, I reversed the downvote because you removed the incorrect claim. I still think it's not so applicable to suggest a source of metalic taste to somebody experiencing a problem with sour taste, but sometimes people do have trouble with correct descriptions.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Jul 27, 2014 at 11:07

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