cannedtomatoes13Summer’s tomato bounty is a distant memory, especially here in snowy New England.  So unless you blanched, peeled, sauced, and stockpiled your heart out in August (I didn’t — I was too busy sweating and complaining about the humidity), you’ll be relying on the canned version for the next six months.  I use canned plum tomatoes constantly in my winter cooking.  Here are my three favorite brands.

Best Value

In culinary school, we learned that the best canned tomatoes come from Italy, and the best Italian tomatoes are from San Marzano.  In general, it’s a good guideline.  So I was delighted to find them at Costco, in a whopping 6 lb. 10 oz. can, for just over $3.  The brand name is Nina, which I’ve never seen in a regular grocery store, and the tomatoes are sturdy and pleasantly acidic.  They’re canned in a clean tasting juice, which is especially good for braises.

cannedtomatoes21Best for Sauce

(Also, prettiest can!) Joseph Russo: they are Italian, though not from San Marzano.  The tomatoes break down well during cooking and they’re canned in a thick puree, making them perfect for marinara.

Sweetest

California’s own Muir Glen makes tomatoes so sweet you could eat them straight from the can.  They are petite, firm, easy to dice, and organic, too.  Take that, Italy!  They’re expensive, though, and hard to find around here (unless you want to go to Whole Foods and spend 6 million dollars per can, which I do not) — hence the lack of photo.  But they are awfully good, and I buy them when I see them.

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