The Type Of Canned Tomatoes That Hold Up Best In Simmering Sauces

Canned tomatoes are proof that sometimes fresh isn't always better. Years of farm-to-table hype and romanticizing farmer's markets have convinced some people that fresh or nothing is the way to go if you want the best taste. But the truth is, with some ingredients like tomatoes, that isn't always the case. Canned tomatoes are picked and packaged at peak ripeness and often have more nutrients than fresh tomatoes, which are harvested underripe for easier storage and transport (via Allrecipes). This means that during the height of tomato season, the canned version can taste just as good and, during the rest of the year, will actually have more fresh tomato flavor than "fresh" ones.

Canned tomatoes also come in a wide variety of styles for all of your sauce and soup needs. Supermarket shelves are overflowing with so many tomato options it can be hard to tell them apart. For instance, it can be difficult to tell the difference between sauce and purée, particularly when labels make them look basically identical. This is made worse when different items may not work as substitutes for one another like if you need crushed tomatoes and diced won't do the trick. So if you are preparing for pasta night, which type of canned tomato should you choose?

Whole peeled tomatoes are the best canned tomato for simmering sauce

Whether you are cooking up a big pot of meatballs or a simple marinara, you want tomatoes with a wholesome flavor that will break down easily into a nice smooth sauce. According to The Spruce Eats, whole peeled tomatoes are what will get you closest to that ideal flavor and consistency. Canned tomatoes are often packed with calcium chloride to help them keep their shape while they sit in water or juice, but this can also prevent them from breaking down properly when making a sauce. While whole canned tomatoes can suffer from this problem too, since they only have a small amount of surface area exposed to the solution, they liquefy much easier than diced.

Whole peeled tomatoes also have the advantage of being less processed and more versatile than other styles. Kitchn notes that whole peeled can easily be chopped up to make diced or spun in a food blender to make purée. Unlike canned purée or crushed tomatoes, whole peeled are not cooked before canning, giving you more control over the flavor of your sauce and how long you choose to simmer and cook it down. Each of these canned options has its place, and crushed tomatoes can work well in sauces too, but if you're looking for the perfect long-simmered tomato sauce, it's whole peeled or bust.