Whether you're an amateur home cook or a professional chef, the humble canned tomato can often be the secret to a dish's depth and rich flavor.
In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore answering pivotal questions and providing a step-by-step, taste-tested guide on how to can tomatoes and choosing the best tomatoes for your canning creations.
⬇️ Table of Contents
🍅 How To Can Tomatoes At Home
Step-by-Step Guide To Canning Tomatoes
The process requires a few steps:
- Select ripe tomatoes and wash them thoroughly.
- Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water, then transfer them to an ice bath.
- Peel off the tomato skins.
- Clean and sterilize canning jars or cans.
- Add acidity to the jars, such as lemon juice or citric acid.
- Pack the peeled tomatoes into the sterilized jars, leaving headspace.
- Process the jars in a canner or large pot of boiling water.
- Remove the jars and let them cool, ensuring proper sealing.
- Label and store the sealed jars in a cool, dark place.
How To Peel Your Tomatoes
To peel, make a small 'x' on the bottom of each tomato, then drop them into boiling water for about a minute.
Once the skin starts to split, remove them from the water and the skin should easily peel off. For straining, press the cooked tomatoes through a sieve or food mill to separate the seeds and skin from the juice and pulp.
Sealing The Lid Correctly
Preparing your jars before starting is essential to prevent bacteria growth. To sterilize jars, wash them in soapy water, then boil for 5 minutes. After filling the jars, wipe the top and rim, and screw on the lid.
To seal the jars, process them in a boiling water.
How Long Do You Boil The Filled Jars
For canning tomatoes, the amount of time boiling of the jars is 35 minutes.
🍅 Production Process of Canned Tomatoes
🥫 Harvesting Ripe Tomatoes
The first step is to harvest ripe tomatoes from the fields. These tomatoes are carefully selected based on their color, size, and ripeness. Farmers ensure that only the best tomatoes are chosen for canning to guarantee a delicious end product.
🥫 Sorting and Washing
Once the ripe tomatoes have been harvested, they undergo a sorting process. This involves removing any damaged or spoiled tomatoes that may affect the overall quality of the canned product.
After sorting, the tomatoes are thoroughly washed to eliminate any dirt or impurities that may be present on their surface.
🥫 Blanching and Peeling
After washing, the tomatoes go through a blanching process. They are briefly immersed in boiling water to loosen their skins. This step makes it easier to remove the later on and helps maintain the freshness of the fruit.
Once blanched, the tomatoes are quickly cooled down in cold water.
Next comes peeling - an essential part. The blanched tomatoes now have loose skins that can be easily removed by hand or using specialized machinery. By removing, we ensure a smoother texture.
🥫 Crushing and Straining
After peeling, the whole tomatoes are crushed into smaller pieces or pureed, depending on their intended use. Some recipes call for diced or crushed tomatoes, while others prefer a smooth consistency like tomato sauce or puree.
The crushed or pureed mixture then goes through to remove any remaining seeds or solid pieces. This step ensures that our creation have a uniform texture without any unwanted bits.
🥫 Filling and Sealing
Now that our tomato mixture has been cooked to perfection, it is time for filling and sealing. The hot tomato product is carefully poured into sterilized cans, leaving an appropriate headspace to allow for expansion during processing. The cans are then sealed tightly using lids or caps to ensure secure packaging.
🥫 Processing and Sterilization
To guarantee food safety and extend shelf life, canned tomatoes undergo a process known as sterilization. This involves placing the sealed cans in pressure cookers or retorts filled with boiling water.
The cans are heated at high temperatures for a specific duration, effectively killing any bacteria or microorganisms that could cause spoilage.
🥫 Cooling and Storage
After processing, the cans of diced tomatoes are removed from the pressure cookers and cooled down rapidly. This rapid cooling helps maintain the quality of the product by preventing overcooking or loss of flavor.
Once cooled, label and pack into cartons or cases for storage and distribution. They are stored in cool, dry cellars or warehouses until they reach consumers' hands.
🙋 Why Should I Choose Canned Tomatoes Over Fresh Ones?
Tomato Flavor In Canned Versus Fresh
Tomato flavor can vary drastically between fresh and canned. Interestingly, canned whole tomatoes often hold a rich tomato flavor, sometimes even more satisfying than their fresh counterparts.
This is because canned tomatoes are tomatoes that have been picked at their peak ripeness and quickly canned, retaining their flavor.
Convenience of Canned Whole Tomatoes
Unlike raw tomatoes, they are pre-peeled and ready to use straight from the can. For dishes requiring the flavor of the tomatoes without their skin, canned whole tomatoes are a great choice, saving you the hassle of peeling.
Cost-Effective Choice: Store-Bought or Homemade?
When it comes to cost-effectiveness, it's a bit of a toss-up. Fresh tomatoes can easily become expensive outside of their growing season, making canned tomatoes a cost-effective choice, whether store-bought or homemade.
❓ How To Decipher Between Different Canned Tomato Products?
Understanding Diced Tomatoes, Puree, and Tomato Sauce
Diced tomatoes are just tomatoes chopped into small pieces, while pureed tomatoes go through a process of cooking and straining to create a smooth consistency.
Tomato sauce refers to tomatoes that have been cooked down and seasoned, often with herbs like basil and oregano.
What Is Tomato Paste and When to Use It
Tomato paste is a concentrated form of tomato flavor, made by cooking down tomatoes to remove the water content. It's used to deepen the flavor in a variety of dishes, from sauces to soups.
Crushed Tomatoes Vs Whole Peeled Tomatoes
Crushed and whole are both great options. The main difference lies in their consistency. Crushed tomatoes are tomatoes that have been processed into a chunky puree, while peeled are whole tomatoes that have had their skin removed.
📌 What Should I Consider When Selecting The Best Canned Tomatoes?
San Marzano Tomatoes: The Premium Choice?
The brand name San Marzano often comes up when discussing the best in the world. San Marzano tomatoes are a special variety of plum tomatoes known for their meaty texture and low acidity. They are typically a premium choice, but many say they're worth the extra cost.
Checking For Additives Like Calcium Chloride
It's important to check for additives. One common additive is calcium chloride, used to maintain the firmness of the tomatoes.
While this isn't harmful, it can affect the texture in dishes.
Recognizing Quality In Tomato Juice and Whole Peeled Tomatoes
To gauge the quality, pay attention to the juice. The more vibrant and fresh the juice appears, the better the quality. Furthermore, the consistency should be firm, meaty, but not overly hard.
Using Diced and Whole Peeled Tomatoes In Different Dishes
Understanding which type of tomato to use significantly affects your dishes. Diced tomatoes are great for recipes needing tomatoes to hold their shape while peeled ones are ideal for meals requiring a smooth tomato base.
What Are Some Common Uses Of Canned Diced Tomatoes?
Canned diced or crushed tomatoes are often associated with a plethora of recipes.
They can be used in a quick cooking chile, a hearty stew, marinara sauce, or any tomato-based dishes. This pantry staple provides an umami rich flavor that is hard to replicate.
Should I Use Tomato Puree Or Tomato Sauce In My Stew?
That really depends on the consistency and texture you want.
Tomato puree is more concentrated and will give a thicker texture, while canned tomato sauce will make it more liquid. Both are tomato-based, but the consistency changes your cooking result.
How Are Whole Peeled Tomatoes Different From Crushed Tomatoes?
Whole peeled tomatoes retain their shape well and provide a chunkier consistency to your dishes.
Crushed tomatoes, on the other hand, are homogenous and often used as a base for sauces or soups. When deciding which one to use, consider the texture you want in your dish.
Can I Make Tomato Sauce From Canned Tomatoes?
Yes, you can! It's a simple process that only requires a saucepan and a stovetop.
First, cook them down until the water has evaporated and you're left with a thick sauce. Add some bottled lemon juice, basil, oregano and cilantro for flavor, and you have a homemade tomato sauce.
How Is Tomato Paste Made?
Tomato paste is made from concentrated tomato puree. The puree is cooked down over a long period of time until the water has reduced significantly and a thick, rich paste is left.
Some brands like Mutti have been following this canning process every year since their establishment in order to ensure a consistent product.
Do Canned Tomatoes Keep As Well As Fresh Tomatoes?
Canned tomatoes have a longer shelf-life than fresh and will last in your pantry for years, making them a great saver.
Although fresh may provide a slightly better flavor in some dishes, canned tomatoes are a consistent, year-round option for recipes. Don't be off-putting by the 'tinny' taste as it typically cooks out.
What Are The Steps To Prepare A Canned Tomato Recipe?
Preparing a recipe with them, first, making sure the water drains out. Then, cook the tomatoes on a burner until the water is boiling.
Once the water is boiling, you can add in other ingredients like Roma tomatoes, cilantro or, then simmer until all the flavors blend together. Extra leftover be stored in the fridge; cover the jars to ensure they stay fresh.
Can I Use Canned Tomatoes As An Alternative To Fresh Ones In My Pasta?
A: Yes, most definitely! Particularly, crushed tomatoes work fantastically in pasta sauces for a quick weekday meal.
They cook down fairly quickly compared to whole peeled tomatoes and offer a robust flavor that enhances the overall dish. Alongside, you can use petite diced tomatoes as well for extra texture.
What Does A 'Whole-Peeled' Canned Tomato Mean?
Whole peeled' refer to tomatoes that have had their exteriors removed and are then canned whole.
This process ensures they hold their shape as well while cooking and provide a different texture to your meals compared to other canned tomato products, like diced or crushed tomatoes.