Are San Marzano or other expensive canned tomatoes actually worth it?

In a previous post, I said that I decided a few years ago that really good canned tomatoes make a HUGE difference, and I willingly spend the extra money to buy them. My opinions only, but cheap canned tomatoes often aren’t ripe enough, with hard bits that don’t taste good in the dish you are cooking, they are packed in very watery tomato something, and have added ingredients that attempt to make bad tomatoes better, like calcium chloride.

Here is Ethan Chebowski doing one of his blind (literally) taste tests of canned tomatoes, and what he found out.

A brand I often use is Cento, because it is easy to find in my local grocery stores. Even their canned tomatoes made from U.S. plum tomatoes are ripe and delicious, packed in tomato puree. At my local Kroger, a 28 oz. can of the San Marzano whole tomatoes is $3.79, and worth every cent.


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16 Responses to Are San Marzano or other expensive canned tomatoes actually worth it?

  1. Pa Hermit says:

    A look into my canned sauce, it’s mostly Hunt’s. It has Cc (Calcium chloride) in it and labelled as non GMO. Most of my tomato cooking goes into chili sauce. When I get adventurous, I would use it in spaghetti sauce from scratch. Thanks for the info!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Re-Farmer says:

    I can’t do fresh tomatoes (they make me gag), but I can handle tomato paste and sauce. My favourite tomato paste is actually fro Poland, and comes in tiny little cans. I haven’t seen them since we moved back to the farm, and I had only been able to find them at one grocery chain specializing in European foods.

    Last year, we made and canned tomato paste from a heritage variety of paste tomatoes we grew ourselves. Two dozen 125ml jars. Even though they were a paste tomato, it took forever to cook them down to the proper thickness! We sure went through those fast! This year, we’re growing a Roma variety to try. Sometimes, I see seeds for “San Marzano” tomatoes, but it’s like with Champagne or Taber corn; if it’s not from the region, it’s not the real thing!

    Liked by 3 people

    • auscitizenmom says:

      Fresh tomatoes make me gag, too. I used to think I was adopted because I couldn’t eat them. My mom and dad had them with most meals, sometimes even breakfast and Dad always grew them wherever we lived.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Re-Farmer says:

        My parents tried to make me eat them! At one point, I was told that if I didn’t eat tomatoes, I couldn’t have ketchup. I very happily agreed to those terms. Didn’t eat ketchup again for at least a decade! I still rarely eat it.

        Only a year or so ago, I learned that quite a few people have this reaction to tomatoes, and it’s much like how some people find cilantro tastes like soap, while others love the stuff. The only thing is, tomatoes have so many more natural chemicals in them compared to cilantro, no one’s been able to identify which one people like us are reacting to, yet.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Pa Hermit says:

          I never ate soap, so don’t know how it tastes.

          Liked by 2 people

          • czarina33 says:

            Cilantro tastes to me like grass clippings from the yard. Ginger tastes like soap.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Stella says:

              Cilantro tastes like soap to me. I use parsley instead.


              • auscitizenmom says:

                Garlic tastes like metal when I can recognize it Most times, if there is too much in a dish, I think it is rotten. I use Bush’s Chili Beans in place of refried beans. When I had some leftover I would put it in the fridge. When I took the dish out it smelled like it had rotted and I threw it out. That went on for a long time, maybe years, until I read on the can that it had garlic in it. I still use them, I just don’t smell them when they come out of the fridge.

                Liked by 1 person

        • auscitizenmom says:

          My mother said when I was just a baby, I always wanted to have a bite of the tomato because I thought it was so pretty or something, She said I would always gag so hard. I can handle them cooked and in things, but not to bite into a raw tomato.

          Liked by 2 people

  3. auscitizenmom says:

    The best tomatoes I ever used for sauce was beefsteak tomatoes. That might have been because my neighbor grew them and gave them to me within minutes of picking them and I usually made the sauce right away.

    And, I never, ever use tomato paste because it usually gives me indigestion.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. auscitizenmom says:

    I didn’t know they used Roma tomatoes for canning. I buy them because they are small and more solid. I can sometimes eat them with other things as long as they are not too strong.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. tblakney says:

    Loved the taste test video especially the part about the geography of the growth. I grow our own and we can our own , I know that doesn’t make me special, and we can our sauce in jars and I believe it helps the flavor , don’t ask I am not Martha Stewart she would know the chemical analysis of it.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. TennOne says:

    After your original post about the San Marzano canned tomatoes (during the plandemic) I decided to try some, and I agree with you, they really are much nicer tomatoes, and I don’t suffer acid reflux after eating them which does happen with other brands. They’re a little cheaper here in Tennessee, $4.38 at my local Walmart. Last year they were $3.25, so they’ve gone up in price, like most things, but I enjoy eating them. So belated thanks for that tip!

    Liked by 2 people

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