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Facts and fiction about food and cooking, by Peter Aitken
For the best tomato sauce, always use fresh tomatoes
September 27, 2013Posted by on
This seems to make sense, right – I mean, fresh is always better than canned. Or is it? It turns out that canned tomatoes often beat out fresh for making sauce. There are several reasons for this:
- The makers of canned tomatoes can grow multiple varieties with different taste characteristics and blend them for an ideal taste profile in their product.
- The tomatoes are grown for canning near the processing plant, so they can be left on the vine until ideally ripe and at the peak of flavor – no need to account for transport time.
- The tomatoes do not have to be bred to transport well or to look pretty on the shelf in the market. As long as they taste good, they can be delicate and ugly.
This is not to say you can’t make great sauce from fresh tomatoes–of course you can, but only if you have the ideal locally grown and perfectly ripe tomatoes. My point is that you should not dismissed canned tomato products just because they are processed. And, you do not have to buy the super-expensive imported and/or organic varieties. In fact, one of the US’s major brands beat all of those out in a taste test held by a notoriously fussy cooking magazine.
Here’s an interesting Mark Bittman article on this topic:
One tip I was told was to buy canned chopped tomatoes. The whole ones are picked slightly under-ripe, in order to better survive the processing. With chopped tomatoes the cnners don’t need to worry about this.