Not Hand-Crushing Your Canned Tomatoes Is A Big Textural Mistake

Whole, diced, and crushed are all viable options for adding tomatoes into your recipe, but the latter brings a specific, unique texture. In recipes like picadillo or veggie-friendly quinoa chili, crushed tomatoes contribute thickness and sauciness without bringing too much liquid, the way diced ones do. It's true that you can browse a wide range of crushed tomato cans at the grocery store, but there are a few good reasons why you might want to pulverize your fruits by hand instead.

For one, you have much more control over the texture of your final product this way. In general, crushed tomatoes are simply a combination of the diced fruit and its puree. But when you buy a can from the store, it's impossible to tell what you'll actually uncover when you open it, as it could be more watery or bulky than you intended. This can lead to disastrous results in your meal, like a thin chili or overly chunky lasagna. When you opt for a can of whole tomatoes and use your hands, you can nail the exact consistency you want. Plus, using your hands instead of a device means you can retain the bright red color of your tomatoes since food processors can oxidate these fruits and turn them orange.

Use a hands-on approach while minimizing splatter

Before you embark on your tomato-crushing journey, let's get this out of the way: Even following the cleanest methods out there, you'll want to wear something you don't mind getting a little dirty. Before you begin, you should also secure a can of whole, peeled tomatoes, which already come submerged in a puree. Then, there are two main ways to crush your juices while minimizing splatter. You can pour out the whole can into a bowl and start individually squeezing each fruit below the liquid's surface. Or, you can dump everything in a plastic bag, carefully seal it, and crush away.

If you don't mind getting a little risky with your clothes, you can also pulverize your fruits in real time. When your recipe calls for adding the tomatoes into the pot, simply squeeze before (gently) dropping each one in. This gives you even more control over the consistency of your ingredient, as you can start with the crushed fruits and pour in juice as needed to thin out your dish. If you go with the prior two methods, however, you'll want to stop once your bowl (or bag) is an even mix of chunky and smooth parts. It may take a little extra effort, but getting your hands dirty will pay off in your meal's pristine consistency.