I buy almost all of my produce fresh, but one of the few things I buy canned (shock horror!) is tomatoes.
Before I go any further – BPA
Let’s talk about BPA (Bisphenol-A). One of the main reasons put forward as to why you shouldn't buy food like tomatoes in cans, is that there is a risk of BPA exposure. As tomatoes are acidic, there is a concern about chemicals leaching from the tin liners into the produce. Unfortunately, given the acidity of tomatoes, the main way to mitigate this risk would be to buy tomatoes in glass jars. It seems that no canned tomatoes are sold in BPA-free cans (though there is a problem with that too – as those types of cans may contain another risky chemical – BPS–Bisphenol S). Yet, I still buy canned tomatoes…
So why do I buy canned tomatoes?
Until I can harvest and preserve my own tomatoes (which is going to take a good few months), I’m going to be buying them canned.
I often find the fresh tomatoes sold don't seem to be quite in season, and have been picked far too early. Use them as they are, and the flavour is completely lacking. Take them home and ripen them – and I almost always miss that sweet spot of ripeness and end up with a rotten mess. Tinned tomatoes are canned at the perfect moment and are always full of flavour.
Also – have you seen how much fresh tomatoes cost? At the time of writing this fresh tomatoes are $9.98 a kilo (for those reading from the US, that’s $4.53 a pound). No, not organic tomatoes, just regular tomatoes. That’s about $1.10 to $1.40 for one single tomato. Over a dollar for on tomato. That’s a lot of money. I hate that money has to come into it, but spending $10 on a few tomatoes to make a simple sauce is just not in my budget. I’d rather spend that money on meat.
Canned tomatoes are also peeled, which is a great convenience.
I use tomatoes as the base of so many of my recipes, so it’s handy to always have lots on hand – another reason I like to buy canned.
Yes, the BPA risk is a concern, but given this isn't a significant part of my diet, this is a risk I feel justified in taking.
But what’s in the can?
What I am concerned with, is what is actually in the can. Have you seen some of the ingredients?
I just want tomatoes in my can of tomatoes. Too much to ask for? Fortunately, there are a few brands I've found that do just contain tomatoes…
My advice is to choose a brand that is just tomatoes (no seasoning or herbs – add your own) and check the ingredients carefully.
These are some of the ingredients in some popular brands I've found. Aside from Tomatoes, tomato juice and tomato puree, the brands I looked at also contained:
- Firming Agent (509),
- Acidity Regulator: Citric Acid (E330)
- Calcium Chloride
Here are the brands to choose and avoid
I've highlighted the ones I would use in red. I'd rather give citric acid and the other additions a miss…
- Annalisa Diced Tomatoes: 100% Certified Italian Tomatoes.
- Annalisa: Peeled Tomatoes: Peeled tomatoes, tomato juice.
- Ardmona Whole Tomatoes No Added Salt: Tomatoes (57% Min), Tomato Juice, Firming Agent (509), Food Acid (Citric Acid).
- Bella Terra Organic Italian Whole Peeled Tomatoes: Selected Organic Italian Tomatoes In Organic Tomato Puree, Organic Basil
- Capriccio Diced Italian Tomatoes: Diced Tomatoes (60%), Tomato Juice, Acidity Regulator: Citric Acid (E330)
- Capriccio: Whole Peeled Tomatoes: 400g Tomatoes (60%), Tomato Juice, Acidity Regulator: (Citric Acid).
- Cento Petite Diced Tomatoes: Fresh Red Ripe Tomatoes, Tomato Juice, Salt, Calcium Chloride, Naturally Derived Citric Acid
- Cento San Marzano Peeled Tomatoes: San Marzano Plum Peeled Tomatoes, San Marzano Puree, Basil Leaf, Naturally Derived Citric Acid, Salt
- Cirio Chopped Tomatoes: Chopped Tomatoes 65%, Tomato Paste, Salt, Acidity Regulator: Citric Acid
- Coles Diced Tomatoes: Tomatoes (60%), Tomato Juice, Food Acid (Citric Acid)
- Coles Organic Diced Tomatoes: Organic Tomatoes (60%) ,Organic Tomato Juice (40%)
- Coles Smart Buy Whole Peeled Tomatoes: Whole Peeled Tomatoes (60%),Tomato Juice,Acidity Regulator (Citric Acid)
- Cook Italian Peeled Plum Tomatoes: Italian Tomatoes (65%), Concentrated Italian Tomato Juice, Acidity Regulator: Citric Acid
- Dell'Alpe Crushed Tomatoes: Tomatoes, Tomato Puree, Salt, Calcium Chloride, and Citric Acid.
- Heinz Chopped Tomatoes: Tomatoes (65%), Tomato Juice (35%), Acidity Regulator – Citric Acid
- La Valle Italian Peeled Tomatoes: Peeled Tomatoes, Tomato Puree, Basil Leaf, Salt, Citric Acid.
- Muir Glen Canned Diced Tomatoes: Organic Tomatoes And Tomato Juice, Naturally Derived Citric Acid And Calcium Chloride.
- Mutti Baby Roma Tomatoes: Date Tomatoes, Tomato Juice.
- Napolina Chopped Tomatoes: Chopped Tomatoes (70%), Tomato Juice, Citric Acid
- Parioli Chopped Tomatoes : Chopped Tomatoes (65%), Concentrated Tomato Juice, Acidity Regulator (Citric Acid)
- Pomi Sauces Chopped Tomatoes: Tomatoes
- Racconto Whole Peeled Tomatoes: Tomatoes, Tomato Juice, Salt, Calcium Chloride and Citric Acid.
- Woolworths Homebrand Tomatoes Diced: Diced Tomatoes (65%), Tomato Juice, Acidity Regulator (Citric Acid).
- Woolworths Select Tomatoes Diced: Australian Diced Tomatoes (52%), Tomato Puree, Firming Agent (509), Acidity Regulator (Citric Acid).
Do you use canned tomatoes – or is the BPA risk a concern for you? Which is your go to brand? Share your thoughts in the comments below.