Peeling your own tomatoes is an excellent way to improve the freshness of a recipe, control your salt intake, and avoid consuming unwanted chemicals found in some cans. If you live in a place like California, you can probably get excellent tomatoes year round. Where I currently live in New York, as is the case in other places that reach below freezing, this may not be the best use of my time during the cold winter months.
Many recipes call for cans of diced or peeled tomatoes. I usually substitute about the same amount in weight as compared to the size of the can. When I first read about this technique in a Mexican cookbook years ago, I thought, “God, that sounds like a lot of work and time.” It really isn’t. Before you start cleaning and chopping your vegetables, put out a pot of water to boil, and before you know it, your tomatoes are ready to be thrown in. It really doesn’t add much time to your overall preparation, and in my opinion, the benefits outweigh the time, especially when your tomatoes are fresh.