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Dec 22, 2008 05:17 PM

Best tasting canned tomatoes? [moved from Home Cooking board]

I ran out of my jarred tomatoes... now i have to buy canned.

I tried a couple so far -ummmm yuck.

I tried Hunts (wasnt expecting much), and myer glen fire roasted -they tasted like burnt tin.

What are the god ones i can get at a grocery ???

I was going to buy a bunch of tomatoes and make my own, but they are so expensive in the winter -it is ridiculous. (i live in mn). Thanks!

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  1. I can never remember a particular brand, but for Italian dishes, I try to use San Marzano (DOP) tomaotes - always whole - I find all tinned tomatoes that are chopped etc. have a tinnier flavor. I do like the brand called "San Marzano", though it's actually using U. S. tomatoes. You might try Pomi as well if you can find them.

    1. I recently tried Pomi tomatoes which come in a 26 ounce box...right on the shelves with the canned tomatoes...quite excellent. They are from Italy, no salt or sugar or anything else in there...just tomatoes and they are very flavorful.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Val

        Val, Pomi are *excellent*! I used them exclusively for several years until I moved and could no longer find them (easily) around me. Yes--very flavorful and good consistency.

        Now I use San Marzanos (Cento), but I hear many people like Glen Muir. I haven't tried them, though.

        1. re: Steady Habits

          I love Pomi, Glen Muir Fire Roasted, but I hate Cento.

          1. re: melly

            Yes, melly, those fire roasted sound good to me, though I haven't used them yet.

            What do you dislike about Cento?

      2. This seems surprising to me, but when Cook's Illustrated did a taste test a few years back, they picked Progresso's Italian style with Basil. (Of course that means it has basil, which you don't always want.) I believe they even stood up in a blind tasting with the San Marzano. It really does seem impossible, but there you have it. They did not test Pomi though, and i would be curious to see how a boxed tomato holds up against one in metal...

        I am usually pretty contented with my Trader Joe's diced tomatoes but I usually use them in something where there is enough other stuff happening anyway.

        You might be in for a tough winter as I am sure your home jarred ones are going to be a hard act to follow with canned!

        6 Replies
        1. re: ThreeBowls

          Why dont they just jar them? i hate things in cans...

          Is it bad that i am contemplating using Prego as the base for my red sauce?
          I actually just bought 4 different ones, newmans own, myer glen, lunds( upscale grocery brand) and Prego, and Prego was the best tasting???

          I might be losing it.

          (oh, and it was less exspensive by 1.00)

          1. re: ashii

            You know, I haven't had Prego sauce in a gajillion years but the one thing I did always like about those sauces from my childhood was that they were thinner and I feel like less sweet than a lot of the fancier brands that became so popular. Again, it's been forever since I've had any of them (mainly from Atkins-induced fear of pasta than jarred sauce snobbery, I am only now reconciling with pasta and just haven't been doing much red sauce) but I do recall my college years being a series of jarred disappointments when I bought the stuff that was supposed to be better than what my mom used to stock and it just all tasted like...tomato jam sitting on top of my pasta.

            1. re: ashii

              No, prego sauce is pretty decent, as jarred sauces go. I think CI agrees on that one, too. CI also really like the Muir Glen Fire Roasted tomatoes, which you didnt like. If you can find canned san marzanos whole, I agree that is the way to go.

            2. re: ThreeBowls

              Cook's Illustrated's May-Jun 2007 issue discussed crushed tomatoes and the way they are processed. Their tasting results:

              1. Tuttorosso in thick puree with basil (NOT the New World Style version)
              2. Muir Glen with basil

              Honorable mention:
              Hunt's Organic & Redpack in thick puree

              Cook's Illustrated Sep-October 2005 discussed whole tomatoes, and gave these rankings:

              1. Progresso Italian Style
              2. La Regina or Pastene San Marzano
              3. Redpack
              4. Hunts

              Understand that tomatoes are subject to weather changes from growing season to growing season, even with industrial attempts to modulate seasonal variations.

              This means that no ranking system is going to beat your tastebuds from can to can...

              1. re: Karl S

                Funny, Karl, my son and I just had a lot of fun making the spaghetti with Sicilian meatballs recipe from Epicurious. We weren't able to get dop San Marzanos at the little Italian specialty store we went to, so picked up La Regina whole tomatoes with basil thinking we were pretty safe. The texture and ripeness of the tomatoes seemed quite good, but we were really surprised and somewhat disappointed because they tasted quite metallic, especially after we reduced the sauce. My husband thought so, too. I usually like CI's testing results, but have to disagree about La Regina.

                I'm pretty sure I saw somewhere else on the board that some cans are lined and some are not, so I have a feeling that is a major difference in taste.

              2. re: ThreeBowls

                Is it just me or does it seem like Cooks Illustrated always goes for the biggest company as the best? I also saw their comparison of boxed stocks where Swanson came out on top. Makes you wonder.

              3. Three brands I like are Pope, Cento and Pastene....It must be the yellow cans. There is also a product in New Jersey labeled La Fede that makes a nice sauce. It seems all the neighborhood Italian grocery stores feature this brand...if not Pastene..

                3 Replies
                1. re: fourunder

                  Where do you buy Pope Tomatoes anymore? They were the basis of my grandma's "gravy" (and lots of other grandmas' gravies). I live in SC and search for them everytime I am in the Northeast.

                  1. re: momolapasta

                    The Pope Brand Tomatoes are readily available in most Supermarkets in the Northern New Jersey.....I purchase mine in Shop Rite Stores or Pathmark Stores.

                    I have tried to research some information by Googleing...but surprisingly, there is none to be found. I am presently looking at the can....and the only information says:

                    Distributed By
                    Pope Food Group LLC
                    P.O. Box 153
                    Closter, NJ 07624

                    If you Google Pope Food Group LLC, it comes up as a company in Northvale....It says the sales of the company are less than $500, I do not know if it is the same company....I would guess not, as the gross sales seems very, very low. Maybe you could post a letter to their Customer Service Department for locations where the product is available outside of New Jersey

                    My favorite Pope product is the Concentrated Tomatoes in Heavy Puree/Made From Fresh Ripened Tomatoes....makes a very nice sauce and tomato based soups. Under ingredients, it simply says: tomatoes. The 28 oz. can pictures plum tomatoes on a vine.

                    Out of curiosity, I will try to find out more information if possible next time I food shop.

                    1. re: fourunder

                      Thank you so much for that information! I am always on a quest to find what my grandma used to call "The Pope in the Can" again! My favorite was the puree as well. A little garlic sauteed in olive oil (or "earl" as Grrandma pronounced it), some fresh basil, meatballs in the good brew.

                      If you google "Pope Tomatoes" you come up with an entry on my website lamenting my unfulfilled search for these tomatoes. About four years ago, the company contacted me and wanted me to try their reformulated tomatoes. They then combined San Marzano tomatoes and California tomatoes. They sent me a few cans of their product. It made a nice marinara.

                      They had a website and marketing folks but it seems they dropped off the face of the earth....I have more hits on my website looking for "Pope Tomatoes" than even for my business services and I get nice emails all the time from folks whose grandmas specified in their recipes to use Pope. If you find out anything more, please let me know! Thanks again for the hopeful information!

                2. I've always had the most consistent luck with Progresso, even more than the expensive Italian brands. Just the plain whole ones. Those Pomis are good, too.