How to Use a Food Mill for Tomatoes

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Things You'll Need

  • Tomatoes

  • Sharp knife

  • Cutting board

  • Large pot, stainless steel or enamelware

  • Food mill

  • Large bowl or pot

  • Ladle or large spoon

A food mill speeds tomato sauces by seeding, peeling and pureeing in one step.

A food mill is a hand-cranked utensil that purees and strains foods. It consists of a round hopper, with a rotating paddle that forces foods through a perforated disc in the bottom. It is often quicker to process foods in a food mill than to use a food processor and separate strainer. Mills are especially handy with foods like tomatoes, which are time-consuming to skin for sauces and freezing. A food mill permits large quantities of tomatoes to be skinned and seeded in a short time.


Step 1

Rinse the tomatoes under cold water. Remove the stem, if attached, and cut out the core with the tip of a sharp knife. Cut the tomatoes into quarters.

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Step 2

Place the quartered tomatoes in a large stainless steel or enameled pot. Bring slowly to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the tomatoes are very soft.


Step 3

Place the food mill over a bowl or pot large enough to hold the tomatoes. Ladle or spoon tomatoes into the food mill until it is 2/3 full. Turn the crank to force the tomatoes through the disc, until nothing is left but the skins and seeds.

Step 4

Remove the skins and seeds from the food mill, and fill it once again with tomatoes. Repeat, until all the tomatoes have been processed.

Step 5

Can or freeze the tomato puree, or use it to prepare your favorite tomato-based sauce or condiment.


Use the ripest tomatoes you can find, for the richest flavor. During peak season it is often possible to buy a large quantity of very ripe tomatoes at a good price, because the retailer wants to be rid of them before they spoil.

Use a fine disc in the food processor for pureed tomatoes. For salsas and pasta sauces that are intended to have a fresh-tomato flavor, use a coarse disc to leave the tomatoes in larger pieces with more texture.


Do not cook tomatoes in an aluminum pot, which will react with the acid and cause discoloration and a metallic flavor.


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