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Apr 24, 2004 10:04 PM

Canned Tomatoes; check to make sure Calcium Chloride is NOT an ingrediant!!

  • r

What do you guys and girls think about Calcium Chloride? My vauge understanding of canning tomatoes is as follows: to be canned, whole tomatoes need some combinatin of citric acid and calcium chloride as preservatives. But from what I also understand, calcium chloride is there mainly to keep the tomatoes from turning mushy. I read somewhere that Italians do not care so much about the consistancy of their tomatoes as americans, so it is a much more common ingrediant for canned tomatoes for the US market. I cant be sure, but from my experiance, i notice that tomatoes with CC tend to be more metalic tasting or astringant. Since my sauses do not come out as good, I desperately look for canned tomatoes without CC.

To my dismay, I notice that more and more imported cans of tomatoes and even organic companies such as Muir products in whole foods are including Calcium Choloride. Perhaps i am wrong about my observation? Perhaps it is just luck, or even actualy the result of citric acid? Finaly, if anyone found any great canned tomatoes without this phenomena, do tell?


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  1. I don't know what Calcium Chloride does or not, but after reading your post I went to look at my box of Pomi tomatoes and this is what it says: Ingredients: Tomatoes.
    It comes in chopped and strained.

    5 Replies
    1. re: mickyme

      Just watched an episode of America's Test Kitchen where the taste test was canned tomatoes. Chris K and the testers *hated* Pomi. They said it did not taste tomato-y.

      1. re: pdxgastro

        I know that, but it's one of the instances where I think they are flat out wrong (this is isn't the only time that happens). ATK is vulnerable to taste expectations issues in their testing.

        What I know is this: the sauces I make with POMI are invariably better received than sauces I make with San Marzano DOP canned tomatoes. The only thing that's better is fresh plum tomatoes in a good (that is, sunny and not-too-wet) season.

        1. re: Karl S

          I agree, Karl. ATK expectations can definitely cloud their results. They "evaluated" chocolate chip cookies with the expectation that the best ones were crispy. I don't agree with that, so their evaluation is useless to me.

          I like POMI, but prefer to use fresh when possible.

          I've got about 9 San Marzano's ripening on a bush now - they were the first tomatoes to set in this dreadful year. I figure that'll be enough for a doll's serving of pasta.

          1. re: Karl S

            I find that ATK is wrong as often as right. Their brine is also far too heavy on salt and sugar.

          2. re: pdxgastro

            I'm guessing what they did was taste it straight out of the box (as opposed to use it in recipes). Lots of other brands have lots of salt, and Pomi is pure tomatoes. I love using pomi...and no BPA in the packaging is a big plus too.

        2. s
          Science Chick

          Calcium chloride is a harmless, natural form of calcium, a normal mineral in your diet.....just like table salt (sodium chloride), only with calcium instead of sodium. Most minerals we ingest (potassium, sodium, calcium, etc) are in either the chloride or phosphate salt form. It's just the way they occur in nature!

          If you eat any mineral fortified cereals, juices....or even milk, you are probably eating more calcium chloride than you'll find in the tomatoes. Check the nutrition label on the can, and see how much dietary calcium there is, compared to tomatoes without calcium chloride. My guess is that there is such a small amount, that it doesn't even count toward the daily calcium allowance (just a guess, though)! Harmless...although I suppose there is a chance it could effect the taste. If so, I haven't noticed personally.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Science Chick

            In Russia 10% solution of Calcium Chloride in a distilled water is a renown strong fast acting remedy for allergies famous for the absence of side effects, with the exception of very unpleasant flavor, so it is taken with a milk. There are also injection and IV application in serious cases.
            I am sure it is harmless in caned tomatoes, and since I never tested the taste well familiar to me, I guess it is a tiny amount.

          2. Hi,

            I'm not quite sure what you're getting worked up about Calcium Chloride. I think you are panicking over something which is based on supposition rather than fact.

            I preserve tomatoes in glass jars out of personal preference. To every quart of tomatoes, I add two tablespoons of lemon juice to increase the acidity of the tomatoes. The acidity level is important because low-acid (pH) foods cannot be safely water-bath processed. Tomatoes are on the edge but the lemon juice (or vinegar) raises the acidity to a safe level.

            Salt is purely optional when preserving tomatoes, it is present for taste only.

            A tomato's ability to maintain its structure has much to do with the variety your preserving. Plum tomatoes hold up very well. The additional of calcium chloride is not going to change how a tomato holds up under cooking or preserving.

            The metallic taste in your tomatoes may come from the lining of the can. I have seen the more expensive canned tomatoes have thin (painted?) layer on the can's interior to keep the acid from interacting with the tin. I have to admit to very rarely coming in contact with tomatoes I haven't canned myself in over a decade.


            4 Replies
            1. re: Cathy2

              My parents have been water-bath canning the tomatoes they grow for more than 50 years without adding acid and without any problems whatsoever with their product. I would not discourage anybody from adding acid to this already acid product, but its hardly necessary.

              1. re: jen kalb


                Based on your anecdotal information, you can choose to do whatever you want. I have linked below to the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

                The USDA canning guide insists on acidification because the pH of tomatoes has been found to be borderline safe/unsafe. The addition of the lemon juice or vinegar increases the level of acidification from borderline to safe.

                The University of Illinois grew heritage, common and "low acid" tomatoes in test plots throughout the state. They tested the resulting pH with some variability. Interestingly, some "low acid" had higher acidity than non-selected tomato plants. This test was done in other states as well. This collective research-based recommendation to add lemon juice or vinegar to tomatoes before canning was not lightly considered.



                1. re: Cathy2

                  On a slightly related note...olives in olive oil etc.


                  1. re: barleywino


                    I was once in Texas around the time of the olive harvest. I was very, very tempted to buy a lug to take home. If I had the resources I have today, i.e. the internet and chowhounds, then I would have bought them confident one way or another an acceptable process would be figured out.


            2. Try citric acid added..most canners add citric acid because it speeds up the canning process..citric acid adds to people getting heart burn..Escalon steems the peel off the tomatoe just like your grandma did..

              1 Reply
              1. re: kathy


                Lemon juice - vinegar - citric acid are added to bring tomatoes, which are boarderline acidic, to a safe level of acidity for processing.

                From a home canning perspective, acid or acidified foods can be water bath processed, which includes pickles and fruits. Non-acid vegetables and meats are processed by pressure canning. Non-acidified tomatoes should be pressure canned for food safety. Each process gobbles up time, citric makes it safer but not faster.


              2. It is indeed difficult to find canned tomatoes that do not contain calcium chloride or citric acid even with the imported brands at an Italian market. But I did find "Bella Terra from Racconto" brand at my local Italian grocery store that has neither calcium chloride nor citric acid. They are wonderful. You can really taste the difference. Maybe you can Google Racconto to see where you can find this brand. Worth the search.

                1 Reply
                1. re: erikalwong

                  My box of POMI brand tomatoes says "Ingredients: tomatoes" that's the Pomi!! You might want to check these out...I get them at Publix 26 ounces for about $1.60??? Forget what I paid last time....