I love tomatoes in every shape and fashion. Not only are they tasty, cooked tomatoes are the bearers of many nutrients, especially Lycopene. Originally, it played out to be a defense against prostate cancer in men. Today it is a guard against colon cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and pancreatic cancers. Pancreatic cancer is one of the mostly deadly forms of cancer~~I know all too well. My father passed away from it.
I use raw tomatoes in salads and other fresh dishes. But for cooked dishes I usually used the canned variety. I have found that they do extremely well, taste good and are good sources of the all important lycopene. I would love to cook fresh tomatoes for every dish, but I have young children and I simply just do not have the time. In addition, the price would be simply outrageous. As a diabetic snob and foodie, I want to get on with the enjoying of the food, not spending hours peeling and chopping tomatoes.
I do try to open the cans and pour them up into a glass container such as I have pictured here and let them ‘air’ for an hour or two before cooking. This is not necessary, but this is just one of my quirky cooking steps. My favorites are Petite Diced Tomatoes and Crushed Tomatoes in Puree. I will use any, however. I do not really care for the tomato varieties that have herbs or other vegetables added in, for in my opinion, they do not can as well and are usually bland, wimpy pieces and tasteless herbs. I always add those in myself~~mostly from fresh.
Here we go. Some of the things you can do with canned tomatoes: make soup, add to homemade chili, add to stews, make pico de gallo relishes, sauces, sauces and more sauces, add to baked beans, make your own ketchup, add to omelets and frittatas, use in an endless array of casseroles, make gazpacho and other cold soups, make salsas of every variety, use for homemade pizza toppings, stir into other ingredients and make tomato bread, and on and on and on…
I always run out. At every trip to the grocer, I head straight to the tomato aisle and stock up for the pantry. I put the heavy cans in every variety in the bottom of my cart so they will not crush everything else. Brands? Allow me to let you in on a secret. I have tried almost every brand for two decades. If I have coupons, I will buy the name brands. However! I like the generics better. Not only for the price, but for the sheer fact that they are less watered down and the consistency is well–always more consistent. Some of the popular name brands appear to me as being ‘more generic.’ Time and time again, the popular name brands are unevenly cut, the purees are watery, and there are hard pieces within them, often with the core or part of the stem attached.
I use several store brands but I have to say the Great Value Brand at Wal-mart is the very best I have found. In second place, the Kroger Brand is fairly consistent. Every time I go to Wal-Mart~~and I don’t go often~~I buy tons of their canned tomatoes. I will continue to try every brand I come across, but on this particular item, for me and the cooking I do, Wal-Mart wins hands down~~they are even better than the organic, ‘swoo-hoo’ brands. I have told you, I am picky!
The only exceptions to this are the many varieties of canned tomatoes available at the DeKalb Farmer’s Market in Atlanta, GA. The prices there are better than the generics, and they are canned and imported directly from Italy. When I am there, I try to stock up on as many cans of the endless varieties that I can-as much as my Chevy Suburban will hold and as much as my wallet can afford.