Author Topic: Cook's Illustrated Canned Tomato Tasting  (Read 14462 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline tinroofrusted

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1190
  • Location: OC, CA
  • Experimenting....
Cook's Illustrated Canned Tomato Tasting
« on: May 04, 2012, 12:25:09 AM »
Cooks Illustrated Issue No. (March/April 2012) has a canned whole tomato tasting and the results are both interesting and a bit surprising.  They say that the Italian San Marzano tomatoes are not as good as good old American tomatoes.  According to the CI blind tasting, the San Marzano tomato hype is just that.   CI emphasizes the importance of adding calcium chloride to the tomatoes to preserve body.  Their top picks are as follows, in order of preference:

RECOMMENDED
1. Muir Glen Organic Whole Tomatoes (USA) ($2.99 for 28 oz). Recommended. Firm texture, tastes like a "real summer tomato".
2. Hunt's Whole Plum Tomatoes (USA) ($1.95 for 28 oz.).  Meaty, fruity, with bright flavors. Less sweet than Muir Glen. 

RECOMMENDED WITH RESERVATIONS
3. Red Gold While Peeld Tomatoes (USA) ($1.36 for 14.5 oz) Firm, bright, sharp flavors. 
4. Cento San Marzano Certified Peeled Tomatoes (Italy) ($3.79 for 28 oz)  Sweet, lacking in acidity. Best of the Italian Brands
5. Bioanturae Organinc Whole Peeled Tomatoes (USA) ($3.39 for 28.2 oz) Sweet, mushy and flat. Lacking
6. San Marzano Whole Peeled Tomatoes (USA) ($3.99 for 28 oz.) Grown in the USA, this brand is an imposter trying to masquerade
    as a true Italian San Marzano tomato. Grown with seeds from Italy. Fruity, light, uninspired.
7. Rienzi Selected Italian Plum Tomatoes (Italy) ($1.95 for 28 oz)  Mushy, borderline soupy, uninspired. 
8.  Eden Whole Roma Tomatoes (USA)  ($3.79 for 28 oz.)  No real tomato flavor, but clean and light. 
9.  Pastene San Marzano Tomatoes (Italy) ($4.34 for 28 oz)  Weak, thin, but clean and straightforward. 

NOT RECOMMENDED
10. Tuttorosso Peeled Plum Shaped Tomatoes (USA) ($1.79 for 28 oz.) Tough, chewy, fibrous.


Offline pabsey

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 23
  • Location: Fargo ND
Re: Cook's Illustrated Canned Tomato Tasting
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2012, 05:16:16 PM »
I have to say i agree!  Hunts gets a bad rap but we really like their taste and price.

Offline dellavecchia

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2628
Re: Cook's Illustrated Canned Tomato Tasting
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2012, 06:25:26 PM »
It should be noted that San Marzanos have been cultivated specifically to be cooked, not eaten raw.

John
« Last Edit: May 04, 2012, 06:28:22 PM by dellavecchia »

Online slybarman

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 1029
  • Location: Maryland
Re: Cook's Illustrated Canned Tomato Tasting
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2012, 09:02:55 PM »
We just tried Muir Glen's organic canned pizza sauce the other night and I thought it was quite good.

Offline dmcavanagh

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 1912
  • Location: Glenmont, NY
Re: Cook's Illustrated Canned Tomato Tasting
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2012, 08:31:04 AM »
These testing are never very comprehensive, that list is pretty much the standard "run of the mill" tomato brands you find in the big grocery chains. There are literally hundreds of brands of canned tomatoes, you've gotta go out and search for the good ones. Italian import stores will greatly expand your horizons.

Offline xsosx

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 25
Re: Cook's Illustrated Canned Tomato Tasting
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2012, 05:48:28 PM »
It should be noted that San Marzanos have been cultivated specifically to be cooked, not eaten raw.


Quote
...we sampled them straight out of the can as well as simmered in both quick- and long-cooked tomato sauces.


http://www.cooksillustrated.com/tastetests/overview.asp?docid=10023

Offline pizza Doug

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 18
Re: Cook's Illustrated Canned Tomato Tasting
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2012, 09:19:15 PM »
I will take my 6 in 1's ground with Puree any day over any on that list.  6 in 1's don't use citric acid either, and they are fresh tasting IMO.

Offline FeCheF

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 1151
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Pennsylvania
Re: Cook's Illustrated Canned Tomato Tasting
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2012, 10:09:14 PM »
I will take my 6 in 1's ground with Puree any day over any on that list.  6 in 1's don't use citric acid either, and they are fresh tasting IMO.

I have not tried 6-in-1's ground, but i hear they are close to classico peeled ground and they do not use citric acid either. Hunts is the worst tasting tomatoes ive ever tasted.

Offline dmcavanagh

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 1912
  • Location: Glenmont, NY
Re: Cook's Illustrated Canned Tomato Tasting
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2012, 08:26:44 AM »
 FeCheF

I'm not endorsing Hunt's, but if those are the worst tomatoes you have ever tasted, you have either not tasted very many tomatoes, or have luckily grabbed the right ones.!  >:D

Offline FeCheF

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 1151
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Pennsylvania
Re: Cook's Illustrated Canned Tomato Tasting
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2012, 10:36:17 AM »
FeCheF

I'm not endorsing Hunt's, but if those are the worst tomatoes you have ever tasted, you have either not tasted very many tomatoes, or have luckily grabbed the right ones.!  >:D

Well after spending years wondering why my chili always came out acidy tasting and trying to mask it with shredded carrots,sugar,baking soda, i finally stopped using hunts and found this site dedicated to finding good canned tomatoes.
So yes your right i havent tasted many different tomatoes, and was lucky to grab the right ones!

Its just a shame i was uneducated enough to use hunts tomatoes for so long.


Offline petef

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 579
  • Location: New Jersey
Re: Cook's Illustrated Canned Tomato Tasting
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2012, 04:04:43 PM »
Has anyone here ever read the tomato can labels?  I was shocked to see such a big difference in Sodium (salt) between my Cento (20mg) and Muir Glen (260mg) brands. No wonder they taste so much different.

I discovered this quite by accident after making pizza sauce last night. I normally use Cento brand, but last night I used Muir Glen and my usual recipe. When I tasted it, it was horrible because I added about 1/2 ts of salt and it was way too salty. I had to doctor it up by adding 1 can of Cento tomatoes and all my usual ingredients, omitting the salt.

It just goes to show, you shouldn't make a pizza sauce without tasting it in order to properly adjust ingredients of salt, vinegar, and sweetener.


---pete---
« Last Edit: May 12, 2012, 04:06:50 PM by petef »

Online Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 21900
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Cook's Illustrated Canned Tomato Tasting
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2012, 05:03:05 PM »
pete,

I don't know which products of the two brands you are comparing, and their serving sizes, and how much of the products you used to make your sauces, but 20 mg of sodium (Cento) is equivalent to 0.0086 teaspoon of salt and 260 mg of sodium (Muir Glen) is equivalent to 0.1183 teaspoon of salt (a bit less than 1/12th teaspoon). All tomatoes, whether fresh, canned, cooked or in sauces, contain varying degrees of sodium. Fresh tomates have the least amount of sodium and it is naturally occurring.  For comparison purposes, one teaspoon of salt contains 2325 mg of sodium; 1/2 t. = about 1623 mg of sodium; 1/4 t. = about 581 mg of sodium; 1/8 t. = about 291 mg of sodium.

Peter

Offline dellavecchia

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2628
Re: Cook's Illustrated Canned Tomato Tasting
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2012, 06:42:45 PM »
It goes to show that everything is subjective when it comes to taste tests, and context is everything. The top two picks would never be on my neapolitan pizzas - the Muir Glen are very good for long cooked sauces, but they are very, very tough and fibrous straight from the can and would never be enjoyable on a 60 second bake. They need a good hour to break down. I won't comment on Hunts other than I don't agree with CI's assessment.

The best SM's are so tender they break apart in your hand with no effort. They have bright acidity and a slight sweetness when cooked for up to 10 minutes. Beyond that and they are not the right tomato for the application. And understand that any long cooked sauces you find in Italy, like a bolognese or sugo, are more about the meat and have very little to no tomatoes in them. The giant pot of slow cooked tomato sauce with dried herbs and such is an Italian American thing. So using SM for all purpose is not the way to go IMHO, nor are they appropriately rated here.

If I were to do this list, this is what I would choose:

WHOLE TOMATOES ONLY

Quick sauces (5-8 minutes) and raw application on neapolitan pizza:


For longer cooked sauces and also fine for neapolitan pizza:

  • Rienzi Selected Whole <-a great bargain in the larger can
  • Cento Italian

Still very good, but only for long sauces or other applications, like cooked pizza sauce:

  • Bionaturae
  • Muir Glen

Steer clear of:

  • Tuttorosso
  • Hunts

Special mention: Sclafani are not whole, but very good for quick sauces and even neapolitan on a budget.

John
« Last Edit: May 12, 2012, 06:46:45 PM by dellavecchia »

Offline petef

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 579
  • Location: New Jersey
Re: Cook's Illustrated Canned Tomato Tasting
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2012, 08:27:34 PM »
pete,

I don't know which products of the two brands you are comparing, and their serving sizes, and how much of the products you used to make your sauces, but 20 mg of sodium (Cento) is equivalent to 0.0086 teaspoon of salt and 260 mg of sodium (Muir Glen) is equivalent to 0.1183 teaspoon of salt (a bit less than 1/12th teaspoon). All tomatoes, whether fresh, canned, cooked or in sauces, contain varying degrees of sodium. Fresh tomates have the least amount of sodium and it is naturally occurring.  For comparison purposes, one teaspoon of salt contains 2325 mg of sodium; 1/2 t. = about 1623 mg of sodium; 1/4 t. = about 581 mg of sodium; 1/8 t. = about 291 mg of sodium.

Peter

Thanks for breaking it down to actual amounts. Now 260mg does not seem to be enough to make very much difference so I don't know for sure what happened. I'll pay closer attention to what I'm doing next time.

---pete---

Offline dmcavanagh

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 1912
  • Location: Glenmont, NY
Re: Cook's Illustrated Canned Tomato Tasting
« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2012, 09:51:35 AM »
@dellavecchia

Sclafani (the NJ company) does can whole peeled tomatoes, and although the picture on the can appears to be plum tomatoes, the actual tomatoes inside the can are round tomatoes. That said, I much prefer Sclafani crushed tomatoes (use them often) over the whole tomatoes. The crushed tomatoes have a much richer tomato taste.
Be aware that there are 2 companies called "Sclafani" The tomatoes I like are from the New Jersey based Sclafani company which is owned by B & G Foods. There tomatoes are grown and packed in New Jersey. There is also a Sclafani company located I believe in CT. They sell impoted Italian tomato products along with a very extensive line of other Italian foods including canned goods and pastas.

Offline dellavecchia

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2628
Re: Cook's Illustrated Canned Tomato Tasting
« Reply #15 on: May 14, 2012, 10:02:26 AM »
@dellavecchia

Sclafani (the NJ company) does can whole peeled tomatoes, and although the picture on the can appears to be plum tomatoes, the actual tomatoes inside the can are round tomatoes. That said, I much prefer Sclafani crushed tomatoes (use them often) over the whole tomatoes. The crushed tomatoes have a much richer tomato taste.
Be aware that there are 2 companies called "Sclafani" The tomatoes I like are from the New Jersey based Sclafani company which is owned by B & G Foods. There tomatoes are grown and packed in New Jersey. There is also a Sclafani company located I believe in CT. They sell impoted Italian tomato products along with a very extensive line of other Italian foods including canned goods and pastas.


Yes, that is what I had said in my post - it was special mention because they were not whole. And thank you for pointing out the different versions of the company. I am referring to the NJ company.

But come to find out they do have whole tomatoes available - I have never seen them though:

http://www.sclafani.com/sclafani-whole-peeled-tomatoes.asp

John

Offline sailorjazz

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 4
Re: Cook's Illustrated Canned Tomato Tasting
« Reply #16 on: May 30, 2012, 10:04:45 AM »
I use the Cook's Magazine recommendations as a staring point for many recipes and then adjust to my tastes. I have used the Muir Glen and Hunts both with good results. BTW FYI I find that my taste buds and aroma (nose) sensors do not always agree with America's Test Kitchen/Cooks recommendations. When Muir Glen is on sale I stock up.

 :chef:

Offline dmcavanagh

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 1912
  • Location: Glenmont, NY
Re: Cook's Illustrated Canned Tomato Tasting
« Reply #17 on: May 30, 2012, 10:44:01 AM »
sailorjazz

Do yourself a favor and explore other options. There are so many tomatoes far superior to Muir Glen, that when you find them you will wonder how you could have ever thought that Muir Glen was good.

Offline Meatballs

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 196
Re: Cook's Illustrated Canned Tomato Tasting
« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2012, 03:59:04 PM »
Fine cooking did a canned tomato tasting a few years ago and it was equally as useless.  Since embarking on my study of pizza a year-plus ago I've learned a few things about tomatoes that are never pointed out in such articles.  When I began to study pizza sauce from professional publications I noted that the tomatoes used by restaurants are not usually available in grocery stores.  What separated these products from those available in grocery stores was the term "Fresh Pack".  This refers to the use of only fully vine ripened, hand picked, tomatoes.  Parallel with this term is a lack of citric acid in the ingredients.  I figure that using vine ripened tomatoes makes the need of an acidifying agent moot since the tomatoes have developed their own acid buffer to make canning safe.

Taking this knowledge, I found 6 IN 1 tomatoes from the manufacturer in California and ordered some on-line (they ship really cheap).  I was blown away by the quality and flavor and have adapted them to many of my family's Italian recipes and now order them regularly.  Next, I used this knowledge in Wallmart when I found that they had begun to stock a few new tomato brands.  One of those brands, Classico, had no citric acid but was not labeled Fresh Pack.  I suspected that "no citric acid" equaled "Fresh Pack" and I bought a representative can of each (puree, whole, crushed, ground) and was very pleasantly surprised.  While not as dense as 6 IN 1, they tasted fresh and really good, with no acid bite in the finish. 

Moral of the story, do your own tasting and find out why things taste as they do.  I suspect that the people who conducted the tasting in the magazine really did not know Jack about tomatoes, although they may have had sophisticated palates.

Ron

Offline communist

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 482
Re: Cook's Illustrated Canned Tomato Tasting
« Reply #19 on: May 30, 2012, 09:07:10 PM »
  One of those brands, Classico,   While not as dense as 6 IN 1, they tasted fresh and really good, with no acid bite in the finish. 



Ron
Ron, Interesting.  In fact, many of us think Classico and 6 in 1 are pretty much the same and are both from Escalon in California.  Pete-za has written about this in another thread.  Mark


 

pizzapan