I’ve been cooking for about 43 year now, since I was 12. Ok, do the math, I’m old, however young to an eighty year old! My grandfather was an Italian chef in the early 1920s-50s cooking at fine hotels in Chicago. So let’s just say, I have good credentials when it comes to knowing how to make a good Italian sauce. For the past three or four batches, I have noticed something not working. The sauce lost its pizzazz. I have a sensitive palate and despite my family saying it was fine, it was not up to my standards because “fine” wasn’t good enough for this Italian mama. This has really been bugging me because I’m accustomed to making a great sauce for my family. Through our Italian generations we had thick sauces. I always used mainly tomato paste from the can, like grandpa, for the base with adding water to dilute it. However, there has been an increasing tin flavor I have noticed when I have been using them lately. Maybe the cans of paste came from China? Check out this recent article on tomato paste concerns in China’s exporting to Italy and Europe, click “here“. Could they be shipping it to us and putting it under brand names? All I know is something is different in the taste for the past several months.
I even tried different brands. So, I wanted to get away from tin cans and looked for cartons of paste. Well, I know they have tubes of paste which is in small quantities but not in cartons. However,last week I came across Pacific Natural Food brands of organic crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes. They were all in 13.6 ounce cartons. I bought a combination of them and I just finished making the sauce today. So here is the review for Pacific Natural Food tomato products:
Mama Mia,that’sa Italian! Whew! I finally got my mojo back with Pacific Natural Foods. You can definitely taste the difference from tomatoes in a carton versus a tin can. It’s so clean and fresh tasting. However, best of all it is organic. Now, I will confess, I still would prefer a paste for that thicker sauce but it still was double because I reduced the moisture down by cooking it longer and I added a lot of Parmesean Reggiano Cheese…lots! Hey, I’m Italian, what can I say.
Here are the ingredients for each product:
The diced tomatoes have organic tomatoes, tomato juice, organic puree, naturally derived citric acid, calcium chloride, and sea salt.
The crushed tomatoes have organic tomato puree, organic tomatoes, water, sea salt, naturally derived citric acid, and calcium chloride.
The tomato sauce has organic tomato puree, tomato paste, water, sea salt, organic sugar, naturally derived citric acid, organic garlic powder, organic, onion powder, organic red pepper, and organic black pepper.
The cost of each 13.7 ounce carton to a 12 ounce can of paste is about a dollar more. It was definitely worth it to know it was a clean fresh taste of tomatoes versus a tin residue from the cans of paste. Pacific Natural Foods is a company based out of Oregon that started in 1987. I have tried Pacific’s organic soups that are excellent in flavor. I think that’s why I had the guts to try them for my sauce. All their brands are certified organic. I’m still hoping they are going to come out one day with a paste because I still like the thicker consistency, however it was good to know my hunch was right about these tin cans and I wasn’t me losing my touch.