Tomatoes are one of the most widely grown and consumed vegetables in the world. Whether enjoying them raw in salads, sandwiches and burgers, or cooked into sauces, soups and stews, tomatoes offer great flavor and nutrition. However, some people prefer seedless tomato products for reasons like texture and ease of chewing. This article will examine whether a tomato press effectively removes seeds from tomatoes.
What is a Tomato Press?
A tomato press, also called a tomato strainer or sieve, is a tool used to separate tomato pulp and juice from the seeds and skins. It consists of a screened cylindrical chamber with a plunger or crank handle. Whole tomatoes are placed into the cylinder and the handle is pressed down, forcing the juice and pulp through the screen while leaving most of the seeds and skins behind. The juice and pulp collect in a separate chamber beneath for easy collection. Tomato presses come in manual and electric versions. They provide an efficient way to process large quantities of tomatoes.
How a Tomato Press Works to Remove Seeds
There are a few key ways a tomato press works to separate seeds from the juice:
- The screening – Tomato presses have screens with small perforations, usually around 0.5-1mm. This allows the watery tomato juice and pulp to be squeezed through while leaving most of the larger seeds behind.
- Crushing/macerating – The act of pressing itself helps break down the tomato and detach the seeds. The pressure forces out the juice and pulp while scrapping the seeds off the internal flesh.
- Gravity separation – Once crushed, the heavier seeds settle towards the bottom while the lighter juice floats to the top for straining.
- Multiple presses – Running the tomato remains through the press multiple times helps further separate out more juice and achieve a higher seed extraction rate.
Seed Extraction Efficiency
So how good are tomato presses at actually removing the seeds? Testing has shown that most tomato presses can extract about 95-99% of tomato seeds when run multiple times. However, no method can remove 100% of seeds. Some small seed particles and stray seeds will usually remain in the filtered juice.
Here is a table comparing the seed extraction efficiency of various tomato pressing methods:
|Pressing Method||Seed Extraction Rate|
|Tomato press – single pass||92-96%|
|Tomato press – double pass||96-99%|
As you can see, a tomato press can extract over 95% of seeds in just a single pass and up to 99% when run twice. Food mills and strainers are not quite as efficient at seed removal.
Factors Affecting Seed Removal
There are a few variables that affect how thoroughly a tomato press can remove seeds:
- Tomato variety – Beefsteak and larger tomato varieties tend to have bigger seeds that are easier to extract. Smaller tomatoes like cherry or grapes can be harder to completely deseed.
- Ripeness – Unripe firm tomatoes tend to retain more seeds compared to ripe juicy tomatoes.
- Screen size – Presses with smaller hole sizes (around 0.5mm) filter out more seeds than those with larger holes (1mm+).
- Number of presses – As shown earlier, double pressing maximizes seed extraction.
- Pressing method – Electric presses generate more pressure and tend to remove more seeds than manual hand crank presses.
For best results, use ripe tomatoes, an electric press with a fine screen, and press multiple times.
Tomato Press vs. Blender
What about using a blender instead of a press? Can blenders effectively remove tomato seeds?
Blending does break apart the tomato flesh and initially separate out some seeds. However, the resulting juice still contains a lot of seed particles and debris. Blenders lack the screening and crushing action of a press to thoroughly filter out all the seeds.
Here is a comparison between a tomato press and blender:
|Seed particles in juice||Minimal||Moderate|
|Pulp in juice||Moderate||High|
As you can see, the tomato press is far more effective at thoroughly filtering out seeds, skins, and fibers compared to a blender. The press produces a smoother, cleaner end product.
Types of Tomato Presses
There are a few common types of tomato presses:
Hand Crank Tomato Press
This is a manually operated press with a hand crank to lower the plunger. It has a screen cylinder, collection chamber, and crank arm. Hand crank models are economical and good for moderate batches of tomatoes. They require physical effort to operate.
Electric Tomato Press
Electric tomato presses use an electric motor to automate the pressing instead of a hand crank. This allows for much higher pressure levels and makes pressing large batches simpler and faster. Electric presses are more expensive but ideal for high volume tomato processing.
A food mill is a hand-cranked mill with a screened cone used for puréeing and straining. It removes some seeds and skins, but is not as efficient at seed extraction as a dedicated tomato press. Food mills work better with peeled tomatoes.
Food strainers consist of various perforated disks that fit over a bowl. They work similarly to a food mill but require more manual effort. As with food mills, strainers do not remove seeds as thoroughly as a tomato press.
Based on efficiency and seed removal ability, a dedicated tomato press is superior to food mills and strainers when the goal is to maximize seed extraction. Electric tomato presses offer the greatest convenience for larger batches.
Tips for Using a Tomato Press
Here are some tips for using a tomato press:
– Wash tomatoes before pressing
– Remove cores, stems and blemishes
– Cut tomatoes into manageable sizes to fit press cylinder
– Use ripe tomatoes for highest juice yields
– Preheat press cylinder in hot water for easier pressing
– Run batches through press 2-3 times to maximize seed removal
– Stir or shake strained juice between presses to dislodge more seeds
– Clean press thoroughly after each use and dry to prevent corrosion
– For electric models, don’t overfill cylinder – process tomatoes in batches
Following these best practices will help ensure you get the most use and efficiency out of a tomato press for seed removal.
Potential Drawbacks of Tomato Presses
While tomato presses are very useful for deseeding tomatoes, there are some potential drawbacks to consider:
- Manual cranking can be labor intensive and slow for large batches
- Electric presses involve a bigger upfront investment
- Small seeds and particles can still get through and may need to be strained out
- Some valuable pulp and nutrients are lost along with seeds
- Not all skin fragments are removed so peeling may be needed for smoothness
- Cleaning and corrosion can be issues if press is not maintained properly
However, these drawbacks can be minimized by using the right press for your needs, cleaning thoroughly, and inspecting the strained output.
Uses for Tomato Pulp Leftover from Pressing
One byproduct of pressing tomatoes is the leftover skins and seeds. This pulp still contains some nutritional value, so it can be used in a variety of ways rather than discarded:
- Composting for garden soil nutrition
- Livestock or pet feed supplement
- Broth or stock ingredient
- Dehydrated as tomato powder
- Pureed into sauces, juices, soups
- Made into tomato paste or sundried tomatoes
- Used in homemade skin/haircare products
Getting creative with the pulp leftovers reduces food waste and makes the most of your fresh tomato harvest.
In summary, tomato presses provide an efficient way to remove seeds from tomatoes, typically extracting 95-99% of seeds. They are more effective at thorough seed removal than blenders, food mills and strainers. Presses produce seedless tomato juice and pulp while concentrating most seeds in the cylindrical chamber.
Electric tomato presses offer the greatest convenience for deseeding large tomato batches, but manual crank models also work well. While no method eliminates 100% of seeds, the small amount remaining can be strained out as needed. With a quality tomato press, you can easily enjoy seedless homemade tomato sauce, juice and preserves.