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Gazpacho using canned tomatoes?

  • d

I love, love, love Alton Brown's gazpacho recipe. The two times I've made it (earlier this summer), I have always cursed myself for not tripling or even quadrupling the recipe! However, I find the blanching, peeling, seeding, chopping, etc. process quite overwhelming - especially if I want to double or triple the recipe.

Can I use canned tomatoes and expect it to taste even half as good? I am sincerely hoping that you all have had a good experience doing this with your favorite gazpacho recipes... I only end up using a cup or less tomato juice when I use fresh tomatoes, so I'm just curious what I will have to do if I substitute canned.

And, if I'm not ousted with this question, what type/brand of canned tomatoes should I use?

Thanks in advance for any feedback...

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  1. Except at the peak of tomato season, I find canned tomatoes to be vastly superior to what I can find in the grocery store.

    HOWEVER, I have yet to find a way to make canned tomatoes taste good in gazpacho.

    If you're going to try it, use the best canned tomatoes you can find (or your favorite). I like Muir Glen brand. Many others will suggest Italian imports.

    If you find a way to make it work (or a recipe), please let me know!

    2 Replies
    1. re: jeremyn

      Some brands, perhaps Muir and others, are using plastic coated cans. I am assuming this goes a long way towards eliminating the 'tinny" taste.
      I have only used fresh and only make it when I can find (or am growing), good tomatoes.

      1. re: Scargod

        Indeed, muir glen uses the coated cans you're talking about. There is no tinny taste to them at all. Of course, it's still a far different taste from fresh tomatoes.

        However, fresh tomatoes are only good for 2 months of the year, and quality canned are far better during the other 10 months (where I live). Despite that, I follow your strategy of only making gazpacho during the two months when I can get good fresh tomatoes.

    2. Yes, of course you can. Won't be as good as using ripe fresh tomatoes, but it's more than passable.

      Some tips. Use a good EVOO and allow the soup to chill overnight so that the flavors all have time to blend, which will enhance the "tomato-y-ness" of the canned tomatoes with the other ingredients.

      1. I find that making Gazpacho with any canned ingredients at all taste strongly "tinny". I really do not think that it is worth making. It will not be even half as good. The up side is that you can make it with hot house tomatoes and get a reasonable good gazpacho. I do not think you need to do "blanching, peeling, seeding, chopping, etc. Just peel the cucumbers, blend and strain through a medium chinoise. It will catch any skin and seeds.

        2 Replies
        1. re: chefj


          I generally agree with you that canned tomatoes impart a "tinny" or metaltic taste to the soup, done poorly it can almost be like drinking ketchup.

          That said, I feel like I can make a pretty good facsimile of "real" gazpacho using canned tomatoes when I make sure there are other seasonings and ingredients involved, eg. tobasco sauce, sherry vinegar, EVOO, garlic, Lea & Perrins, etc.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            Tabasco and Lea & Perrins ???? In Spain they would shoot you! ( - :

        2. Gong on canned. Gong on blanching, peeling, seeding. Core your fresh 'maters and chop 'em up. Dicing the onions, peppers, and cukes will wear your paws out, why should the softest veggie put you on tilt? Keep it fresh, keep it simple.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Veggo

            Are you making a soup or a salad? Because Gazpacho is a soup

            1. re: chefj

              Duh. I didn't think the 31/2 cups tomato juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, and 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and S&P deserved special mention. The fresh veggies are what it's all about. And I completely agree with you about no hot sauce, no Worcestershire, no canned tomatoes. I guess I am not communicating well this century.

              1. re: Veggo

                I guess that you are not communicating well where "31/2 cups tomato juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, and 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and S&P" come from? Also most tomato juice is not a fresh product.

          2. We do this all the time.

            Canned tomatoes won't be as nice as gazpacho made with fresh, ripe, in season tomatoes. But in general I prefer canned tomatoes unless I can get fresh, ripe, in season tomatoes, which is basically only a few months in the year.

            It does help to make the gazpacho the day before, to give the flavours a change to blend nicely. Check the label on the tomatoes, and use ones that are just tomatoes, with no added herbs and seasonings.

            1. I've never tried Alton's recipe (I often find his instructions waaaaaay needlessly complex -- and don't get me started on his using a canned mushroom soup in his stroganoff), but I can't see any reason to peel and especially to seed tomatoes for gazpacho.

              But to your question: The flavor of canned (cooked) tomatoes is just a different thing altogether from raw, and I have a hard time "picturing" that taste in a gazpacho. I don't think they taste tinny necessarily -- my own I've put up in glass jars have the same character as any good canned commercial variety. It's one of the vegetables that changes the most when it cooks, in my opinion, from one delicious thing to another delicious thing!

              I'd say deviate from Alton's advice on that detail and see if you don't like the result just as much with the skins and seeds intact.

              1. Gazpacho is a seasonal thing. I pretty much follow James Michener's recipe in his book IBERIA, trying to replicate gazpacho I've had in Seville.

                Do not use canned tomatoes or tomato juice!

                Use backyard tomatoes, or ones from the farmer's market. Take out the seeds. Use peeled, seeded cucumber. Use onion. Use red pepper (I like to roast it first). Use some rich chicken broth. Use fresh breadcrumbs. Use a bit of garlic, vinegar, olive oil, and paprika.

                Pop it all into the blender and whirl away.

                It must sit a few hours or overnight to be right.

                I like to garnish with chopped cucumber and sliced green olives.

                1. If I feel the urge to make gazpacho when tomatoes aren't in season, I use Campbell's tomato juice as the base. It's quite good -- no tinny flavor.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: pikawicca

                    That's my go-to also, the low sodium, for basic, mild gazpacho. This thread is a bit fragmented because of a few deletions, but I have posted my recipe several times. Sharuf's Iberian version sounds really good, and beyond basic. I want to try it with the roasted peppers and olives, but maybe for a cup rather than a bowl. Seeds in tomatoes and cucumbers for me are no big deal, and blanching and peeling tomatoes is superfluous. But I would not think of using canned tomatoes.
                    FWIW, the inside walls and caps of most cans are coated with an effective polymer in this day and age, so product does not touch metal. The notion of "tinny" tastes of items in cans is more in one's imagination.

                    1. re: pikawicca

                      Great idea! Talk about a "duh" moment. I also quite like V-8, sometimes the spicy variety; do you think this would be too great a deviation from what gazpacho ought to taste like?

                      1. re: enbell

                        There are many cold tomato soups that I like that aren't classic gazpacho. If you like V-8, I think that you'd like a soup made with it. I say go for it, but I'm certainly not a gazpacho purist.

                      2. re: pikawicca

                        I use Campbell tomato juice and Italian peeled plumb tomatoes. Never taste tinny to me. My problem is that I never seem to make enough no matter the quantity. I sometimes jazz it up with small boiled shrimp and a little shrimp stock. Unless you have a source of good tomatoes other than from your own garden or a reliable vendor I would go with canned tomatoes. Most store purchased tomatoes taste like the cardboard shipping crate they came in.

                      3. I don't used canned, but I don't peal or seed fresh either; a good compromise. Just take out the stem, through in blender (processor) and let 'er rip. Good enough.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                          When I make "gazpacho" (in quotes because I don't claim any authenticity), I don't want puree. I like mine chunky, almost like salsa fresca. Biggest difference between my salsa and my gazpacho is the presence of cuke and bell pepper, and the possible absence of cilantro. But then I sometimes eat salsa from a bowl with a spoon.

                          Peeling & seeding is no biggie if you have good tomatoes. You can peel a good ripe tomato without blanching it, practically with your fingers, and seeding one isn't much harder than picking your nose. Rub the seeds & seed pulp through a strainer and you've got your own fresh tomato juice.

                          1. re: the_MU

                            Ditto here on NOT pureed. I also prefer my gazpacho to be full of chunky goodness. I have also used canned tomatoes when I've had to, and do not detect any "tinniness" in the results at all. The cans (at least the ones I buy) are after all well lined with a coating to prevent that very thing.

                            1. re: the_MU

                              Oh, geez, please don't say salsa fresca, chunky and gazpacho in the same breath.

                              1. re: the_MU

                                It's called blender finesse. I'm very chunky, just ask Scardiety and I don't make no yuppie salsa fresca I make a wicked good pico de gallo while holding my breath, Scar.

                                1. re: Passadumkeg

                                  This is a lot like a favorite salsa I had at Tequila's in Rancho de Taos, NM:
                                  6 cups ripe, red tomatoes, seeded
                                  1 cup cilantro leaves, minced
                                  3 tablespoons crushed fresh garlic
                                  2 tablespoons salt
                                  1/2 teaspoon white pepper
                                  1 teaspoon cumin
                                  4 tablespoons Tabasco Green Pepper Sauce (or jalapenos or serranos, chopped fine)
                                  6 limes: juice of 6 average sized limes

                                  Coarse chop everything. Put some lime juice in the blender and get garlic and jalapenos broken down, then add everything else and blend to the chunkiness you like. Let it sit a while. No cooking allowed!
                                  The key to this is fresh, ripe, tasty tomatoes. I have added a tiny bit of sugar, too.

                            2. I too hated the idea of all the prep work, plus having to buy so many ingredients. I thought about using chunky salsa (WalMart has mild, medium and hot) with tomato juice. I really liked it. I just added a few spoonfuls until I had the consistency I liked. It's cheap enough to try and if you do, tell me (us) what you think.


                              1. I can understand why someone might crave gazpacho during the dead of winter and use canned tomatoes for a batch. Certainly, canned tomatoes are much better than those tasteless, mealy things that pass for "fresh" tomatoes during January.

                                But, canned-tomato gazpacho will never be as good as the real thing, made from ripe, summer tomatoes. There's no contest.

                                My mother-in-law uses canned tomatoes year-round. Even when her local produce stand's selling wonderful tomatoes in season, she can't be bothered washing and chopping them. Her gazpacho is edible but not very good.

                                1. I'm not familiar with Alton Brown's recipe but when I make Andalusian gazpacho I only use fresh tomatoes. I puree everything with my hand blender and run it through a food mill. This gets rid of the skins and seeds and there is no need to peel them before.