Photo by Aleksandra Flora

Tomatoes are the all time all-stars in sauces, salsa, condiments, and soup. As one of nature’s most versatile fruits (yup, they’re fruits), the tomato is also one of America’s favorites. So we decided to hack the tomato and compile a list of our seven favorite ways to get the most out of this summer staple, from the world’s easiest prep tips to a refreshing facial treatment.

1. The Best Way to Peel a Tomato: Tomato skins are packed with loads of vitamins, but for delicate soups and sauces they can just get in the way. Since peeling by hand is a hassle (and we don’t all have surgeon-like reflexes), we came across an easier solution. Cut a small “X” through the skin on the bottom of the tomato, then place the fruit in boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove with a spoon and quickly plunge into a bowl of ice water. The skin should now peel off easily. This is especially handy when prepping for big batches.

2. Slice Cherry Tomatoes the Easy Way: Slicing tomatoes opens up new flavors and textures, but it can be a pretty daunting prospect for the smaller varieties. For safe slicing, place a handful of cherry tomatoes between two round plastic container lids laid flat on a table. Gently press down on the top lid, and carefully use a sharp knife to cut sideways through the fruit now held firmly between the lids. Voila, instant culinary bonus points!

3. The World’s Simplest Facial Scrub: Skin needs some freshening? Slice a tomato in half and pour a tablespoon or two of sugar on the cut side. Rub gently across the face for an exfoliating scrub; the sugar helps scrub off dead skin while the acid in tomatoes acts as a mild astringent.

4. Shine Up Your Copper Pots: Got some old ketchup packets lying around? Use them as an effective scrub and shine for copper cookware. Just place some on a rag and scrub into the metal to wipe away corrosion. While this hack may not be exclusive to the tomatoes inside, it’s a handy use after a trip to the local diner.

5. Skunk Out Odors: While some suggest there are more effective ways to battle skunk odor (including careful mixtures of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dish soap), bathing in tomato juice is still a widely used remedy available in a pinch (or quick trip to the grocery store). The acidity of the tomatoes combined with their own scent can help mask skunk spray, though the jury’s still out on whether it’ll actually neutralize nature’s foulest odor.

6. Eat Fresh Ripe Tomatoes This Winter: For those who grow tomatoes, there’s usually never a shortage during the summer months (how are we going to eat all of these?!). But come winter, we’d kill for a fresh reminder of warmer seasons. To ensure you get good-as-fresh tomatoes all summer long, pick unblemished green tomatoes during the summer and place in a cardboard box lined with four sheets of newspaper (make sure to place the tomatoes so that none are touching each other). Layer a few more sheets on top of those, then keep stacking until the box is full. Top with six sheets of newspaper and store. The tomatoes will slowly ripen over the coming months.

7. Stitch Practice: Some medical students practice suturing and stitching on various fruits and vegetables before testing their skill on real patients. Bananas and oranges are popular, but tomatoes with their thin, delicate skin are a real challenge. Just make sure to finish that degree before picking up a real needle (and real subjects!).

What are your favorite uses for tomatoes? Let us know in the comments below!