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Canned tomatoes are tomatoes, usually peeled, that are sealed into a can, after having been processed by heat. Tomatoes are available in many canned forms -- whole, diced, crushed, sauce, and paste -- making them convenient to use year-round, especially when fresh tomatoes are not in season. Tomato paste is also commonly sold in tubes.
The traditional forms are whole peeled tomatoes, packed in juice or puree (taste tests indicate that those packed in juice tend to be perceived as fresher-tasting), and ground (sometimes referred to as "kitchen-ready", and not to be confused with puree, which is similar but more cooked). Crushed tomatoes, commonly used for pasta sauces, are made by adding the ground tomatoes to a heavy medium made from tomato paste. Diced tomatoes have become increasingly common for applications where a chunkier or more substantial product is needed. In recent years, the Petite Diced form (3/8" cut pieces) have become the fastest growing segment of canned tomatoes.
How to select
While selecting the canned tomatoes, look carefully at the nutritional labeling and the expiry date. Avoid selecting the cans which are bulging or dented (may cause food poisoning) or if the can appears to be rusted or leaking.
· In areas and situations where in-season, perfectly ripe tomatoes are not available, canned tomatoes are often used as an alternative to prepare dishes such as tomato sauce or pizza. The top uses for canned tomatoes are Italian/Pasta Sauces, Chili, Soup, Pizza, Stew, Casseroles, and Mexican Dishes.
· As they are often more flavorful than commercially produced fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes are well suited for curries
· Tomatoes are a great addition to bean and vegetable soups.
· Enjoy a classic Italian salad-sliced onions, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese drizzled with olive oil.
· Combine chopped onions, tomatoes, and chili peppers for an easy to make salsa dip.
· Purée tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers and scallions together in a food processor and season with herbs and spices of your choice to make the refreshing cold soup, gazpacho.
· Add tomato slices to sandwiches and salads. To keep things colorful, use yellow, green and purple tomatoes in addition to red ones.
How to store
Like most canned goods, tomato products have a long shelf life. As long as they are unopened, they will keep in the pantry for up to a year. Once a can is opened, however, the contents should be transferred to a glass or plastic storage container (to prevent it from taking on a metallic taste) and refrigerated for no more than one week. You can freeze leftover tomato paste in an ice-cube tray. Once frozen, pop the cubes into a resealable plastic bag; they'll keep up to six months.
· The carotenoid, lycopene found in tomatoes has been extensively studied for its antioxidant and cancer-preventing properties.
· The nutrients in canned tomatoes include vitamins B, C, E, and K - with minerals iron, copper, phosphorous - plus protein, pantothetic acid, and niacin.
· Tomatoes even contain a trace of tryptophan.
· Tomato consumption is thought to help reduce blood-clotting and inflammation. The vitamin K helps maintain bone health by keeping up osteocalcin levels.
· Folate in tomatoes helps to reduce the risk of colon cancer.
· The chromium content of tomatoes helps diabetic patients maintain stable blood sugar levels.