Tomato Reviews

I’m currently working on some tomato-heavy recipes that depend on a good acidic tomato bite to help balance out the rest of the ingredients and I also wanted to make the recipe reproducible for others. You could lean on fresh roma tomatoes but depending on season and store even those could be iffy. Canned tomatoes are more consistent and affordable especially outsie of big cities. What follows is reviews for small cans that I found in the Northeast in the middle of the plague of 2020 so hopefully I’ll be able to expand on this as stores restock. I’ll also work on a big can review soon but in the mean time you can look over at https://www.epicurious.com/expert-advice/best-canned-tomatoes-san-marzano-italian-taste-test-article

Tasting notes: I didn’t add salt to the tomatoes that weren’t salted. Salt helps open the flavor and acidity but I chose to taste without. I also tasted them straight without cooking as I sometimes use them at finish to add in a nice tomato chunk and texture is important here.

Production notes: Some brands use calcium chloride. This helps keep the tomatoes crisp from the can but matters most when you plan to keep the tomatoes whole for dips or other things. If you plan to cook them down this can have a negative impact as you’ll need to cook them longer to break them down. Also if you’re real bored you can read about can liners and how they’ve changed over at https://cen.acs.org/articles/91/i6/Clear-Winner-Race-Find-Non.html

Mutti Cherry Tomatoes
These folks are well known for a higher quality tomato in a can. This one was probably overcooked as it tasted like dogfood with tomato. It looked nice with a thick sauce. I pinged them about it; will update.

TuttoRoso Diced Tomatoes
Size and Price: 14.5 oz
Looks: 1/2 x 1/2 whole pieces in a thick tomato juice; fair bit though more stemmy
Texture: Crisp; almost firmer than fresh tomatoes
Taste: Very close to store hot house tomato
Notes: Both salted and uses calcium chloride
Overall: I’d use this as a sub for diced tomatoes in a salsa or other places you need fresh tomatoes in a pinch.
Rating: Very good

Pomi Finely Chopped Tomatoes
Size and Price: 14.5 oz
Looks: thick marinara
Texture: thicky, sloppy, somewhat rough
Flavor: bright, acidic, fruity
Notes: no salt or calcium chloride.
Overall: great for a fast marinara; fresh oregano and basil and good olive oil and you could have marinara for the table that beats anything in a can in the time it takes for the noodles to cook.
Rating: Excellent

Hunts No Salt Petite Diced
Size and Price: 14.5 oz
Looks: 1/4 x 1/2 broken pieces in tomato juice
Flavor: sweetish, slightly flat
Texture: Slightly mushy
Notes: No salt, contains calcium chloride and citric acid
Overall: Hunts is a well-known brand and I feel set the benchmark for a canned tomato. If you beat Hunts you’re better than the pack and probably cost a touch more and if you’re worse well to the garbage can you go.
Rating: Good

Signature Select Petite Diced
Size and Price: 14.5 oz
Looks: 1/4 x 1/4 broken pieces in thin tomato juice
Flavor: Metallic, flat, slightly overcooked
Texture: very mushy
Notes: contains salt, calcium chloride, and citric acid
Overall: The Albertsons family store brand (Safeway, Star, Shaws) and if you can pick almost any other I recommend it.
Rating: Poor

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