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Mar 28, 2007 12:26 AM

Hunt's Organic Diced Tomatoes

. . . is a product i won't be buying again. One can alone had four stem end pieces with hard, unripe green shoulders and too many of the chunks had skin left on them.

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  1. Just bought an 8 can pack of organic diced tomatoes at Costco yesterday, so your post sent me running to the cupboard. It's S&W brand. I hope it will be better than Hunt's. Very annoying trying to cook with those hard, unripe pieces.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Glencora

      Let us know how it is. I bought a 6-pack of the Hunt's at Grocery Outlet so at least it didn't cost that much. I've not seen tomato belly buttons in diced tomatoes before, let alone 4 in a 14.5 ounce can.

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        I often get the Muir Glen tomatoes and have never been disappointed.

        1. re: Janet from Richmond

          Yes, I especially like the fire-roasted Muir Glen ones for making Mexican-style dishes. Saves me roasting a pile of Romas.

      2. re: Glencora

        I opened two cans today. One stem-end (AKA "belly button") per can and a couple of those pale pieces, too. Muir Glen is better. These were inexpensive and ok for roasting to death, as I am doing, but not great. At least they're organic. I've seen those commercial tomato fields up close. Scary.

      3. Melanie: young lady why don`t you write hunts foods and ask them if this is normal
        or some mistake, that you would like a better product from them. see what they
        have to say. this is the only way to find out is to go to the horses mouth.

        2 Replies
        1. re: bigjimbray

          Nope. Bought them once. Agree with Melanie ... mea culpa Melanie for not reporting.

          1. re: bigjimbray

            I've emailed ConAgra (Hunt's brand owner) and the reply says that something will come in the (snail) mail. Besides the product complaint, I also noted that one of the cans had a white liner and the other two were plain metal.

            I opened three cans cooking late last night. The first two I just dumped into the bubbling pot. But when the pale pieces with skins and stem scars floated up, the third one I poured onto a glass plate to exam more closely. These are all from the same lot number, so perhaps there's a common defect, but three cans full of skins and belly buttons is unacceptable. I fished the unripe green pieces out as best I could. Interesting to bite into them, cottony in texture and no flavor.

          2. I recently bought a can of the Organic Hunt's crushed tomatoes because it was highly rated by Cook's Illustrated and it was quite good, so don't write-off Hunt's Organic tomatoes as a whole. I often find that brand X might do one prep of tomatoes well, but not necessarily the others.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Humbucker

              Interesting. I bought some of their regular crushed tomatoes a while back and they were so sweet they ruined my chili.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                In the Cook's Illustrated test, the regular Hunt's crushed tomatoes were criticized for being "candy-like".

                Another quote on the regular Hunt's crushed tomatoes that seems to echo Melanie's experience with the organic diced tomatoes: "tastes like someone used the best bits of the tomato and left me with the core and skin."

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  Yeah, I used the regular Hunt's crushed and while I didn't find them candy-like, they were flat tasting and could have used more acidity.

                  But I will try the other products in the organic line as they come up at Grocery Outlet at mark-down. It's an easy, low-cost way to brand-sample.

              2. Hmmm. Good to know. I buy diced tomato's often. Also stay away from the Aldi house brand of diced tomato's. They're really acidic and kind of sour tasting.

                1 Reply
                1. re: amoncada

                  I got so fed up with the lack of quality of canned tomatoes that I started canning my own home grown.

                2. thx for the info. they should cut the price more for those cans, maybe to 0. I haven't bought any because the price was comparable to trader joes tomatoes which i think are decent for my purposes (unless my math is wrong and it very well could be). also I kind of expect defects at GC once in a while. for instance the ben & jerry's i bought there (3 pints for $4) was fabulous but the containers were slightly underfilled (had an air pocket). Also, I bought some icy ben & jerrys there earlier. but I still am basking in the glory of all those perfect 70% Lindt Excellence bars I bought earlier this year. I hoarded a bunch of those.

                  i guess these things are part of the thrill of the hunt. :-\

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: choctastic

                    It doesn't matter what brand you buy anymore - the following applies to all canned tomato product.

                    The tomatoes entering the Heinz plant in Leamingon used to be a bright red. They were graded for ripeness - if you picked up a good one it probably had those small, brown spots you get on a sweet, perfectly ripe tomato.

                    What large processors such as Heinz, Hunt, Aylmer et al are looking for is uniformity and certain supply. So the practice developed of contracting with local farmers and supplying them with a strain of seedling developed for, and supplied by, the large scale processor. In the season, the fruit was picked manually, loaded onto trailers and driven directly to the plant. A farmer's season began sometime in August and lasted well into early fall with several harvests off each plant. Now,tomatoes may vary from one processor to the next (unlikely), but you'll find little variation from one batch to the next.

                    Stoop labour, however gave way to mechancal harvesting. New strains were developed for a single harvest by machines that yank the plant out and strip the fruit off. Things in the plant were automated too. There was good seasonal work during tomato season peeling tomatoes on the line. Gradually the only human intervention was in sorting and picking and I've not asked if that's still done or not.

                    See the progression here? The pickers would pick only the ripest fruit; peelers would reject unfit fruit on the line, and sorters would cull any unripe tomatoes. The aim was high sugar/solid content.

                    Today I'm always surprised by the loads of tomatoes being trucked into the plant on hopper-bottom trailers. They are totally unlike the soft, bright red ones I grew up with. They are firm, lighter red and with green shoulders!

                    I'm told by an ex-plant manager that they are just as sweet as the old type and that's probably the case, but like Melanie I'm finding green fruit these days. And stems too - pickers would flick the star off the end of the fruit before putting it into the hamper - the machines are not as dextrous apparently. I even removed a pebble once which tells me that the first real human contact a modern processed tomato has is when we open the can. The taste is still better than most winter hot-house tomatoes but they just don't seem to cook down properly anymore - start with a chunk, end with a chunk.

                    If you go into a major processors warehouse, and there aren't that many, you'll find all the brands available on your local shelves - the line doesn't even have to stop to change labels.I imagine you'd even find the same brand from different processors. So switching brands is just swithching cans, I guess.

                    Further, "organic" and "Hunt's", or any other processor, is not a set. If you've ever preserved your own tomatoes, you know that they are really sensitive to motion. A three-hour road trip once spoiled a couple of jars of my mum's best. She tells me that just storing them on shelves can be tricky if one's not careful. How do you reckon Hunts and others overcome this?