Learn more about the health benefits of tomatoes, the unique characteristics of each product and the best way to use them.
While some of you preserve your own homegrown tomatoes (you’re amazing!), others of us prefer the convenience of buying ready-to-use tomato products. Both are particularly valuable during winter, when fresh tomatoes are not in season and are very expensive. Canned, bottled and concentrated tomato products are versatile, easy to use and count towards your five servings of vegetables per day. .
A Boost of Antioxidants
Did you know that tomatoes are one of nature’s richest sources of lycopene, a natural plant compound valued for its antioxidant properties? Studies show lycopene to be effective in protecting the body against cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some types of cancer.
Further yet, processed tomatoes have a higher amount of bioavailable lycopene than fresh tomatoes. The heat involved in the cooking process opens the cell walls of the tomato, which allows the lycopene to be more readily absorbed by the body.
We recommend choosing certified organic tomatoes, to avoid commonly used pesticides and fungicides.
The Umami Factor
Tomatoes are a great plant-based source of umami. They add a depth of flavour and richness to cooking and this comes from their sweet-savoury character. Umami is the fifth category of tastes, alongside sweet, sour, bitter and salty and means “essence of deliciousness” in Japanese. It is a rich “savoury’ flavour.
Tomatoes get their umami flavour from their high level of glutamate, a naturally occurring amino acid. As a tomato ripens, the ‘umami’ flavour intensifies; and then increases further, the more concentrated the tomato product becomes.
Top 6 Tomato Products
Tomato products may all seem the same. However, each one has a slightly different manufacturing process, which gives it a unique quality and function. Let’s explore six tomato products and delicious recipes to try.
- Concentrated Tomato Paste
Tomato paste is the most concentrated, made from cooking tomatoes for a long time, to remove as much water as possible. It may seem like just more tomato, but it’s full of flavour and adds a depth of umami flavour, a velvety texture, and rich red colour. Just a spoonful of paste can bring a dish to life, without watering it down. Use it to make BBQ sauce, thicken stews, give depth to shakshuka, flavour to nachos or add colour to a vinaigrette.
Chef’s Tip: Caramelise it first
Simply sauté the tomato paste in oil for 30-60 seconds, while stirring to prevent it sticking or burning. The natural sugars will caramelize and the flavours will intensify. It’s well worth the effort. Hot tip: A good time to add it to your recipe, is right at the end of sauteing the onions and spices.
2. Silky Smooth Passata
Passata is simply uncooked tomatoes that have been puréed and sieved to create a smooth and silky cooking sauce. It’s traditionally used in Italian cuisine as a base in family favourites such as Bolognese sauce, spaghetti and meatballs or braised lamb. However, its versatility goes far beyond.
Passata can be used in stews, soups, sauces, savoury bakes, briskets and even Easy Butter Chicken. Chantal Organics Tomato & Basil Passata is perfect for this authentic Tuscan Tomato and Bread Soup (Pappa al Pomodoro). It’s a great way to use up stale, hard bread so that it doesn’t go to waste.
3. Legendary Tomato Ketchup
Ketchup is one of the world’s favourite condiments. And no wonder, as it hits all five basic tastes: salty, sweet, sour bitter and umami. It’s a taste sensation! It’s also a versatile ingredient that adds a sweet and tangy flavour to cooking, such as:
- An authentic ingredient in sweet and sour chicken
- Add a depth of flavour to homemade BBQ sauce or marinade.
- A great addition to homemade baked beans. Try our unique recipe.
- The perfect dipping sauce for this avocado grilled cheese – yum!
4. Create a bit of Pizzaz with Pizza Sauce
This lightly seasoned pizza sauce is ideal for adding a rich tomato flavour to any pizza base, but can also be added to sauces, soups and or even served over pasta. For an easy pizza, simply spread a generous amount on your choice of base and jazz it up with toppings. Keep it simple with cheese and basil or create something special with roasted veggies, blanched greens, pesto, or relish. Try this Fennel and Hot Pork Pizza.
5. The Humble Chopped Tomato
Canned tomatoes are a super versatile ingredient and handy to have in the pantry when you need to cook a nourishing meal with ‘nothing’ on hand. They are made with peeled, chopped tomatoes that are quickly blanched, cooked down and canned. They are soup’s best friend, but also mingle with lasagne, nachos, curry, dahl, stew, masala, beans and more.
5. Convenient Pasta Sauces
Ready-to-eat tomato pasta sauce is made from a slow cooking of tomatoes and spices for a deep and balanced flavour and consistency. Ideal to heat and serve over pasta, Chantal Organics pasta sauce range is gluten and sugar free, perfect for the whole family. They can also be used as an ingredient to make a variety of meals from Cacciatore to pasta bake and lasagne. Find recipes and inspiration in our blog dedicated to easy meals with our organic pasta sauces.
Tomato products are packed with flavour, lycopene and versatility. Boost your meals with umami by using the most suitable tomato product. Although sometimes you just have to use what you have on hand and that’s ok too! Bon Appetit!
To receive monthly recipes and sustainable living inspiration directly to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter at the bottom of this page.