Monday, November 7, 2011

Taste-testing Canned Diced Tomatoes

Here in the Elliott Test Kitchen, Jack made Chicken Cacciatore for dinner last night. The recipe calls for diced tomatoes and near as I can tell, there are no good fresh tomatoes to be found in Bend this time of year. The supermarkets ones are brought from far away and aren't very tomato-y tasting, so I planned to use canned toms. And I got it into my head to do a taste-test of a few. 

So from our local Safeway, I bought four different canned diced tomatoes. We opened them and tasted them, and wow! what a difference! 

Two were just terrible, tasting thin, metallic, and with a bitter chemical aftertaste. Two were quite delicious. All four brands listed the same exact ingredients on the can label: tomatoes, tomato juice, salt, calcium chloride, and citric acid. 

From worst to best:

  • Hunt's Diced Tomatoes
  • Safeway's Petite Diced Tomatoes
  • Muir Glenn Organic Diced Tomatoes
  • Hunt's Petite Diced Tomatoes

Mrs Elliott and I disagreed about whether the Muir's Glenn or the Hunt's Petite was the best. The MG had a sweet, ripe tomato taste which she preferred, the Hunt's Petites were brighter-tasting, like fresh toms, a taste I prefer. A quibble, they were both quite good.

Next time I make something that needs canned toms, I'm going to re-do the test to see if these rankings still hold. There might be batch-to-batch variations and given how terrible the two worst tasted, one should confirm that the toms taste good before using. They're cheap, anyway, so it's not a big deal to dump a couple cans if they don't make the grade.

Oh -- the cacciatore was delicious. I used my new stainless steel saute pan and it was a pleasure to cook with, and cleaned easily.

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