All About Canned Tomatoes
We cook with a lot of canned tomatoes in our house. So much so that I'm learning about different brands and different styles and finding out, there are many differences in quality when it comes to canned tomatoes. This post will look at all these factors and more so you know how to find and purchase the best-canned tomatoes for your cooking needs.
What Are Canned Tomatoes and Are They Any Good?
Canned tomatoes are whole or diced tomatoes peeled and packed in a can with juice or tomato sauce. They are a convenient and shelf-stable option for adding flavor and nutrition to various dishes, from soups and stews to pasta sauces and salsas.
Canned tomatoes are often harvested at the peak of ripeness and then processed and canned soon after, which helps to preserve their flavor and nutrients. They are also usually cooked and sterilized during the canning process, which makes them easier to digest and gives them a softer texture.
Many types of canned tomatoes are available, including whole, diced, crushed, and tomato sauce. Some are seasoned with herbs or spices, while others are plain and can be seasoned to taste.
Canned tomatoes are a staple in many kitchens and can be used in various dishes, from soups and stews to pasta sauces and salsas. They are a convenient and affordable way to add flavor, nutrition, and convenience to your cooking.
10 Types of Canned Tomatoes
- Whole tomatoes: These are whole ripe tomatoes peeled and canned in their own juice or a light tomato sauce.
- Diced tomatoes are chopped into small pieces and canned in juice or a tomato sauce.
- Crushed tomatoes: Crushed tomatoes are whole or diced tomatoes broken down into a chunky sauce.
- Tomato sauce: This is a smooth and thin tomato-based sauce, often seasoned with herbs and spices.
- Tomato paste: This is a concentrated form of tomato sauce, made by cooking down tomatoes and reducing the liquid until a thick, spreadable paste is formed.
- Fire-roasted tomatoes are whole or diced tomatoes roasted over an open flame, giving them a smoky and charred flavor.
- San Marzano tomatoes are a type of plum tomato prized for its sweet, acidic flavor and firm flesh.
- Petite diced tomatoes: These are small, bite-sized pieces of diced tomatoes ideal for recipes that call for a finer texture.
- Italian-style canned tomatoes: These are diced or crushed tomatoes seasoned with Italian herbs and spices, such as basil and oregano.
- No-salt-added canned tomatoes: These are canned without adding salt, making them a healthier option for those trying to reduce their salt intake.
Why Use Canned Tomatoes Instead of Fresh?
There are several reasons why canned tomatoes may be preferred over fresh in specific cooking applications:
- Convenience: They are always available and do not require peeling or seeding, saving time and effort in the kitchen.
- Consistency: They offer a consistent taste and texture, regardless of the time of year or location.
- Preservation: They are preserved at the peak of ripeness, ensuring that the flavor and nutrition are maintained.
- Cost: They are often more affordable than fresh, especially when tomatoes are out of season.
- Shelf life: They have a long shelf life, making them a great pantry staple.
- Flavor: They often have a concentrated, rich tomato flavor ideal for soups, stews, sauces, and more.
It's important to note that fresh tomatoes are still an excellent choice for many recipes and offer their unique benefits, such as crisp texture and bright, fresh flavor. When using canned tomatoes, look for high-quality products made with vine-ripened tomatoes, free from added preservatives, colors, and flavors.
Healthy or Not?
Canned tomatoes can be a healthy food choice, as they are a good source of several essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium, and lycopene.
However, the health benefits of canned tomatoes can vary depending on the type of canned tomato and the ingredients used in the canning process. For example, canned tomatoes packed in their own juice or a low-sodium tomato sauce are healthier than those packed in syrup or containing added salt.
It's also essential to look for canned tomatoes free from artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors. In general, selecting plain canned tomatoes or those seasoned with herbs and spices rather than those with added sugars or other ingredients is a healthier option.
Why Do Some People Add Lemon Juice to Canned Tomatoes?
Adding lemon juice to canned tomatoes can help balance the tomatoes' flavor and acidity. Canned tomatoes are often processed with added salt, making them taste overly salty or bland.
Lemon juice can help to counteract this by adding a fresh, acidic flavor that helps to enhance the natural sweetness and brightness of the tomatoes.
Lemon juice can also help to counteract the metallic flavor that can sometimes be present in canned foods. This is because lemon juice is acidic, and the acid in the lemon juice reacts with the metal in the can, reducing the metallic taste.
In addition to its flavor-enhancing properties, lemon juice is a good vitamin C source. This antioxidant can help to boost the overall nutritional content of canned tomatoes.
What Kind Are Good For Sauces and Soups?
When making pasta sauce or soup, the type of canned tomatoes you choose can significantly impact the flavor and texture of your sauce. Here are some of the most common types of canned tomatoes used for both pasta sauces and soups:
- Whole peeled tomatoes are the best choice for making a chunky, hearty pasta sauce. They are typically hand-packed into cans, which gives them a more natural texture. They are also great for making hearty soups, such as tomato bisque or minestrone. The large pieces of tomato add texture and body to the soup.
- Crushed tomatoes are ideal for making a smooth and velvety pasta sauce. In addition, they are ideal for making smooth, creamy soups like tomato soup. The uniform texture of the crushed tomatoes allows for easy blending, resulting in a velvety and creamy soup and sauces.
- Diced tomatoes are similar to whole peeled tomatoes but cut into smaller pieces. They are ideal for making a thicker, chunkier sauce with a smooth texture and soups with a thicker consistency and a chunky texture, such as gazpacho.
- Tomato puree: This is a smooth, thick tomato sauce with a silky texture and deep, intense flavor. It's ideal for making sauces and soups that need to be simmered for a long time, as it will not break down as quickly as whole or diced tomatoes.
When selecting canned tomatoes for pasta sauce and soups, look for high-quality products made with vine-ripened tomatoes, free from added preservatives, colors, and flavors.
Can You Eat Canned Tomatoes From the Can?
Yes, you can eat canned tomatoes straight from the can, although it is recommended to rinse them with water before consumption. Some canned tomatoes are packed in heavy syrup or brine, so rinsing them can help reduce the amount of added sugar or salt.
However, it's important to note that the taste and texture of canned tomatoes can be different from fresh, and they may be less flavorful or crisp. Additionally, some canned tomatoes may contain preservatives or other ingredients. Hence, checking the label and choosing high-quality products made with only tomatoes and minimal additional ingredients is essential.
If you are looking for a quick and easy snack, you can enjoy canned tomatoes as is or use them in a simple dish, such as a tomato and basil salad or a canned tomato sauce for pasta.
Top Rated Canned Tomatoes for 2022
Here are some reviews for canned tomatoes from some popular websites that do this kind of thing. I find it interesting how different sites choose different products based on different qualities. I'll update this each year or if I find any new reviews.
Wirecutter - December 14, 2022
Bianco DiNapoli Organic Whole Peeled Tomatoes
San Merican Tomatoes Whole Peeled Tomatoes
Pastene San Marzano DOP Tomatoes
Best Ever -Rao's Homemade
Budget - Whole Foods 265
Best Flavored - La San Marzano
Gustarosso D.O.P. San Marzano Tomatoes
Alessi D.O.P. Whole Peeled Tomatoes
Sporked - October 19, 2022
Bianco DiNapoli Whole Peeled Organic
Cento San Marzano Certified Peeled Tomatoes
Cento Italian Peeled Tomatoes
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