How to buy good quality tinned tomatoes


You’ll be amazed at how one tin of tomatoes differs from another – and how easy it is to work out, once you open the tin, whether the producer has filled it with ripe tomatoes.

Tinned tomatoes are used often in Italian cooking. The tomato season is short and tomatoes are essential to many Italian dishes, so it is preferable to use a tin of tomatoes, where the fruits are preserved when they are at their best than to use an out-of-season fresh tomato.

– When you open the tin, check the size of the tomato. They should be all be the same size – this means that they were all at the same stage of ripeness when they were put in the tin.

– It’s better that the tomato still has its skin – it adds flavour. The liquid should be not too thick, it should be juicy not pulpy (see our picture which shows the thick passata inside the tin rather than a thin watery liquid – you don’t always have to pay a fortune for a good tin of tomatoes, these ones came from a ‘discount’ supermarket.)

– The smaller the tomatoes are, the less cooking they need.

– If you buy a tin of cherry tomatoes and there are one or two unripe ones (they will be green or yellow in parts) that’s ok. However, if there are lots of unripe ones, you need to discard them as they will ruin the sauce.

– Tins of chopped tomatoes are often not great quality. Because the industry can put everything in the tin, and because it’s chopped you can see the quality of the original tomato, you can’t make a judgement on what you have bought. Passata is the same – you can’t see the whole tomatoes that were crushed to make it so only use passata from a good quality producer (price is a good indicator). There are just a few makers of passata in Italy that are good.

– Check the price of your tinned tomatoes. If you spend fifty cent instead of a euro, you are saving just 50 cent to make a dinner for two people, and the difference is the same as it is between day and night.

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