Every week have the same problem when we do our weekly grocery shopping: Should I buy canned or fresh tomatoes? Of course canned tomatoes are a lot easier to handle – but aren’t they less healthy than their fresh pendant? Or is that just a myth?
Today, we tell you how canned tomatoes differ from fresh ones and answer once and for all a very fundamental question: Who wins the fight – canned or fresh tomatoes?
We have four disciplines in which the competitors have to prove their competences: handling, shelf life, taste and level of vitamins. Let’s get ready to tomato-rumble!
Our first discipline is all about the convenience: which version is more practical to use during cooking and which is easier to store?
Tomatoes are demanding little vegetables when it comes to storing them. They want to be kept cool but not too cold, in a dark corner of your kitchen which shouldn’t be too dark so you don’t forget them. Actually they’re real divas… Did you know that you shouldn’t put your tomatoes into the vegetable compartment in your fridge: Because it’s too cold, boohoo…
In contrast to that canned tomatoes are a lot easier to handle. They aren’t as picky as fresh ones and are happy (almost) wherever you store them. And of course they don’t need as much space as fresh ones, because they can be stacked easily.
Another point for canned tomatoes is cooking. You can put canned tomatoes right from the can into your pot and reheat them right away. No chopping, no peeling. Doesn’t that sound easy?
1:0 for our superheroes (canned tomatoes)!
By now we learnt that in terms of handling canned tomatoes are ahead. But what about the shelf life – how long can you store fresh tomatoes before they begin to rot? And how much longer do canned tomatoes stay in the race of freshness?
In contrast to fresh tomatoes, which are eatable for about two weeks, canned tomatoes nearly last forever. Even if they reached their best-before date, you are safe eating them. If you’re not sure if there still good just take a look at the can itself. The rule of thumb: If the cap isn’t curved outwards your tomatoes are still delicious.
And again we have a clear winner in this discipline: One more point for the canned tomatoes! 2:0!
By the way: This does not mean that canned tomatoes are full of preservatives. No, not at all. They have just such a long shelf life due to the way they were packaged (in a can) and processed (cooked in the can).
Taste and Flexibility
Our next discipline is one of the most important ones when it comes to food: the taste.
If you need your tomatoes cooked anyway, just use canned tomatoes instead. They’re much easier to handle and the taste is the same. Unlike canned tomatoes, which are already cooked, you can use fresh ones for many more dishes – raw, chopped, fried or grilled. Considering taste, both candidates get a point. When it comes to the versatility canned tomatoes aren’t as flexible as fresh ones.
The points so far: 3:2 for the canned tomatoes – but the fresh ones catch up!
Level of Vitamins
In our last category we talk about the level of vitamins. Don’t they vanish when the tomato gets canned? The good news: No, they stay at the same level and even better. Unlike fresh tomatoes, which are cooked afterwards, canned tomatoes have even more vitamins. Because canned tomatoes are harvested at their peak of ripeness and are canned within a few hours, they keep more vitamins than fresh tomatoes, which are often harvested before they are at their peak of ripeness and transported very long distances before they arrive in the supermarkets and eventually at your home. In fact, a 200g portion of canned tomatoes contains almost 66% of the recommended daily dose of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant, which is beneficial for the health of our eyes, skin, and the mucous membranes. Canned tomatoes compared to fresh tomatoes also contain as much as four times more lycopene, which possesses antioxidant properties and is believed to have a preventive effect on cardiovascular diseases.
Only when it comes to folic acid canned tomatoes have to admit their defeat – but not a big one. Fresh cooked tomatoes lie only one percentage point ahead of their canned competitor.
Again canned tomatoes win!
The Final Result
Fresh isn’t always better. Especially with regards to storing and using, canned tomatoes are ahead of fresh ones. Even when it comes to vitamins canned tomatoes are the better choice.
With a result of 4:2 it’s safe to say that canned tomatoes are the clear winner of this battle and therefore should have a fixed place in your kitchen.