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Canned Tomatoes are Fine


Naftal
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According to "America's test kitchen", for crushed tomatoes they highly recommend Progresso for a "sweet and slightly acidic finish" and Muir Glen Organic for "clean tomato flavor". For diced tomatoes, they recommend, S&W, Muir Glen, and Redpack.

For me, I just wonder how the different "cuts" and preparations of tomatoes affect quality and flavor. Wouldn't it be more logical to buy the whole canned ones and process them yourself?

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I like Muir Glen canned tomatoes, because of the CAN. Muir Glen lines its cans with plastic, so the tomatoes don't have that metallic taste I'm sensitive to.

This past January, as I grimly surveyed the hard, pale, basically pathetic fresh tomatoes for sale at the supermarket, I decided to buy a bunch and roast them. I rubbed them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, fitted them snugly in a shallow casserole dish, then roasted them in a 400 degree oven until they were slightly browned and blistered. The roasting concentrates the flavor, and those tomatoes tasted better than anything I have bought canned.

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I like Muir Glen canned tomatoes, because of the CAN. Muir Glen lines its cans with plastic, so the tomatoes don't have that metallic taste I'm sensitive to.

I've long agreed with that. But a few months ago I tried a can of some sort of imported Italian tomato from Whole Foods & it kicked the flavor stakes up a notch. It was pricey but I decided it was worth it as a splurge. I don't remember the brand name but I'll try to check next time I'm there.

I haven't bought any more of either because my ShopRite held a going-out-of-business sale shortly thereafter & I've been working off my stock of ShopRite brand tomatoes ever since. They're pretty weak on flavor - I generally add a squeeze of Montali tomato paste to give the sauce some life - but such a bargain!

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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I believe most if not all cans these days are plastic lined, aren't they? Maybe I'm misinformed. I don't think metallic taste as such is the problem with most canned tomatoes. It's the violence of the canning process. Canned tomatoes (or canned anything else) are basically cooked in the can for 20-50 minutes. The big advantage of aseptic packaging is that the time is more like 3-15 seconds. So what comes out of the aseptic package is a much fresher tasting product. Now, of course, if you cook the crap out of it for an hour anyway, there's no advantage to that. But for sauces that are basically just heated through and served, the fresh taste shines through.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I think that all canned tomatoes are just blown away by the precious "Tuscan Tomato", and I say it from taste alone. I first discovered them at Whole Foods.

To quote a bit from their site, "Discover The Precious Tuscan Tomato:

"For centuries, Tuscany was renowned in Italy for the distinctive flavor of its tomatoes. When modern harvesting techniques were introduced in Italy, it became impractical to grow and harvest tomatoes in the region's small, hilly farmland. Therefore, the Tuscan tomato slowly lost commercial fame and the region became known for other products. The bionaturæ® company is based in Tuscany and has finally realized its dream of adding these special tomatoes to their line of organic foods. It was a tremendous undertaking to plant tomatoes on our Tuscan farms. As with all of our products, tremendous care has gone into growing, harvesting and processing these tomatoes. All tomatoes are harvested and sorted by hand."

Of course, you don't eat hyperbole, you eat tomatoes, and I find these to be utterly delicious, from the moment you open the can, through whatever you cook with them. I buy the whole ones, slit them open with my thumb and take out most of the seeds, and let them fall apart in whatever I'm cooking.

I'm genuinely surprised nobody on eG talks about these!

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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Is anyone familiar with the Borrelli whole tomatos? They are packed without salt :biggrin: or preservatives :hmmm:

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)

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fair enough. but just for the record, there is no crossover between fresh and canning tomato markets. it's not a matter of a selection of which tomato will go to which, they are separate varieties grown, harvested, packed and shipped separately.

Interesting. I guess somewhere in the back of my mind I suspected that might be true. Either way, it seems that the crushed product is going to be comprised of the "too ripe for whole" and also "not ripe enough or otherwise damaged/inappropriate for whole" tomatoes.

Also, my cans of Progresso crushed say there is puree added, which is raw juice, not paste, which has been cooked and reduced. You may well object to either. I obviously have no problem with added puree.

Question: What information do you have that says tomato puree can't be made from paste? 21 CFR 155.191 says:

Sec. 155.191  Tomato concentrates.

    (a) Identity--(1) Definition. Tomato concentrates are the class of

foods each of which is prepared by concentrating one or any combination

of two or more of the following optional tomato ingredients:

    (i) The liquid obtained from mature tomatoes of the red or reddish

varieties (Lycopersicum esculentum P. Mill).

    (ii) The liquid obtained from the residue from preparing such

tomatoes for canning, consisting of peelings and cores with or without

such tomatoes or pieces thereof.

    (iii) The liquid obtained from the residue from partial extraction

of juice from such tomatoes.

Such liquid is obtained by so straining the tomatoes, with or without

heating, as to exclude skins (peel), seeds, and other coarse or hard

substances in accordance with good manufacturing practice. Prior to

straining, food-grade hydrochloric acid may be added to the tomato

material in an amount to obtain a pH no lower than 2.0. Such acid is

then neutralized with food-grade sodium hydroxide so that the treated

tomato material is restored to a pH of 4.2<plus-minus>0.2. Water may be

added to adjust the final composition. The food contains not less than

8.0 percent tomato soluble solids as defined in Sec. 155.3(e). The food

is preserved by heat sterilization (canning), refrigeration, or

freezing. When sealed in a container to be held at ambient temperatures,

it is so processed by heat, before or after sealing, as to prevent

spoilage.

    (2) Optional ingredients. One or any combination of two or more of

the following safe and suitable ingredients may be used in the foods:

    (i) Salt (sodium chloride formed during acid neutralization shall be

considered added salt).

    (ii) Lemon juice, concentrated lemon juice, or organic acids.

    (iii) Sodium bicarbonate.

    (iv) Water, as provided for in paragraph (a)(1) of this section.

    (v) Spices.

    (vi) Flavoring.

    (3) Labeling. (i) The name of the food is:

    (a) "Tomato puree" or "tomato pulp" if the food contains not

less than 8.0 percent but less than 24.0 percent tomato soluble solids.

This seems to say "cooked for concentration" (as you say) and also seems to leave open the possibility of making it by thinning out paste. Or would using paste be disallowed because it's made from tomatoes and not "juice"? Given the fact that crushed tomatoes are not thin and watery, I have to believe that they're supplemented with high percentage tomato puree (low percentage would actually produce a thinner product than 100% ground tomatoes), which would suggest quite a bit of concentration.

Edited by slkinsey (log)

--

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I think that all canned tomatoes are just blown away by the precious "Tuscan Tomato", and I say it from taste alone.  I first discovered them at Whole Foods. . . .

I'm genuinely surprised nobody on eG talks about these!

Ah HA! That's the brand I was talking about.

They were mentioned above in this thread, but only under the company name "bionaturae" which I didn't recognize.

I'm looking forward to trying them again.

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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Pomi tomatoes have no salt added at all. There's only one ingredient: tomatoes. You can get them chopped (aka "Parmalat Pomi chopped tomatoes") or strained (aka "Parmalat Pomi strained tomatoes"). I imagine the strained product has no seeds but I've never used it. Many years ago, they also sold whole tomatoes in the same packaging, but today the only choice is chopped or strained. So at least within the brand there's no superior selection being made for a whole tomato product. I don't know if, when you list tomatoes as your only ingredient, you're allowed to add paste, juice or whatever -- I'm sure it's in the FDA regs somewhere -- but I was under the impression that Pomi simply chops the tomatoes and puts them through the aseptic packaging process.

I'll second Fat Guy on this. Parmalat Pomi tomatoes are the bomb. "Strained" is actually tomato sauce, completely smooth.

I've been using the roughly chopped ones to make Jayme's salsa almost every other day, but they are fabulous cooked down for pasta sauces, too. Tomatoes, not chemicals and salt. And no tinny taste. Yum yum yum.

(Thanks Jaymes, I particularly love the part of your recipe that says, "Wait, no onion? Maybe Jaymes has never heard of onions, poor guy.")

Edited by pax (log)
“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”
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I think that all canned tomatoes are just blown away by the precious "Tuscan Tomato", and I say it from taste alone.  I first discovered them at Whole Foods. . . .

I'm genuinely surprised nobody on eG talks about these!

Ah HA! That's the brand I was talking about.

They were mentioned above in this thread, but only under the company name "bionaturae" which I didn't recognize.

I'm looking forward to trying them again.

I'm another fan of these tomatoes - I use them all the time. They're excellent!

Edited by merstar (log)
There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.
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So, should I assume that tast and shape (whole) are the standards by which canned tomatos should be judged :huh: ? What about texture?

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)

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Amazing - or should I say "finally" - well, what I mean to say is that there was a big discussion of canned tomatoes last year or so, and nobody mentioned the Tuscan Tomato - or commented after I posted about it either. Though I had recommended them to a friend (not on eG) who said that he has another friend who will only use them. I'm glad to hear that other people know about them and enjoy them!

I think that all canned tomatoes are just blown away by the precious "Tuscan Tomato", and I say it from taste alone.  I first discovered them at Whole Foods. . . .

I'm genuinely surprised nobody on eG talks about these!

Ah HA! That's the brand I was talking about.

They were mentioned above in this thread, but only under the company name "bionaturae" which I didn't recognize.

I'm looking forward to trying them again.

I'm another fan of these tomatoes - I use them all the time. They're excellent!

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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Amazing - or should I say "finally" - well, what I mean to say is that there was a big discussion of canned tomatoes last year or so, and nobody mentioned the Tuscan Tomato - or commented after I posted about it either.  Though I had recommended them to a friend (not on eG) who said that he has another friend who will only use them.  I'm glad to hear that other people know about them and enjoy them!

I think you may have been the reason I checked them out in the first place. Thanks!

By the way, I LOVE your quote from Zabar's. I lived in Manhattan (Upper West Side) most of my life, and it reminds me of so many things I miss.

Edited by merstar (log)
There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.
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I do like the Parmalat Pomi tomatoes (particularly when they still sold the whole tomatoes, I still use the crushed however). I agree that their taste is very clean and very pure. As for the seasoning, I treat them as I would fresh and they come out great.

For canned, I'll be honest (and unpopular); I've had great luck with Whole Foods 365. Simple, basic tomato that does the job for me and is relatively cheap.

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Please see post #31 :sad:

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)

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