How To Grate Tomatoes

Coarsely Grate Tomatoes for Greek Recipes

fresh tomatoes and grater
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Tomato-based sauces are a favorite in Greek cooking, and many recipes call for grated tomatoes or tomato pulp. Don't toss the recipe aside because it sounds too difficult or intimidating to grate and make pulp, and don't resort to a store-bought product. Grating tomatoes is easy and less expensive than buying canned pulp, and the pulp — or the pulp and juice — can be frozen to use later when ripe tomatoes are no longer in season.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: About 1 minute for each tomato

What You'll Need:

  • Ripe tomatoes
  • Coarse vegetable grater
  • Knife
  • Bowl
  • Strainer (optional)
  • Measuring cup

Here's How:

  1. Choose the ripest tomatoes available. When a tomato is at its peak of ripeness, its skin is more inclined to fall away from the flesh. 
  2. Cut the stems from the tomatoes, then cut the tomatoes in half across their width — not stem to bottom. Remove the seeds if you prefer, although this isn't customary in Greek cooking. 
  3. Grate the meat side of the tomato — not the skin side — using a coarse vegetable grater. Hold the grater and the tomato over a bowl or measuring cup, grating down as close to the skin as possible. Do not grate the skin. You'll know when you're getting close because you'll be able to feel the grater's surface through the tomato. This method will give you both the juice and the pulp. 
  4. If you don't want the juice, or if you want to keep the juice and the pulp separate, place a strainer over the bowl or cup to catch the pulp, allowing the juice to spill through to the bowl or cup underneath. 
  1. Discard the tomato skins, or freeze them to later use in stock. 

Some Tips: 

  • If your grater has holes of various sizes, aim for the largest ones. 
  • If you want to freeze the pulp or the pulp and the juice together, simply place it in freezer bags.
  • Take care to place your fingers flat against the tomato and keep them closed when you begin grating the tomato. This serves two purposes. If you press with your palm, you'll have to worry about where your fingers are. You're less likely to abrade your fingers if you use them to hold the tomato, and you'll be better able to feel the grater's surface when you're getting close to the skin. Either way, apply a slight bit of pressure to ensure that the pulp and juice go through the grater rather than squeezing out the sides and making a mess.  
  • There's no end to what you can do with the pulp when you've made it. Your sauce will be much better than if you had purchased canned tomatoes, and for such a scant investment of time. Use the pulp to top crostinis or Greek bruschetta, also called dakos or koukouvayia. Combine the juice with a little olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper for an out-of-this-world vinaigrette. 
  • One pound of tomatoes — about four or five of them — should yield the same amount of pulp as a 14.5-ounce can.