All About Tomatoes

Pizza sauces can be as varied as the pizzas themselves, with customers detecting slight differences in added spices, consistency and sweetness.  There are countless ways to make pizza sauce and several different tomato products to begin with.  But where do those tomatoes come from?   In this article we explore common tomato origins and processing, and give a brief description of how tomato products are rated.

Most domestically produced canned tomatoes are produced from tomatoes grown in California, which supplies more than 90% of US consumption.  This is particularly true for pizza sauce and thick (low bostwick) products.  On the east coast, peeled tomatoes in juice or puree are frequently the preferred base for pasta sauces.

Processed tomato products have traditionally been offered in a variety of can sizes, with the #10 (gallon) size being the standard foodservice item.  Some products are now offered in plastic pouches, reducing waste and shelf space.  Commonly used products include peeled tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, pizza sauce, tomato puree, tomato paste, etc.

Modern tomato processing facilities are quite automated, enabling a high degree of consistency in finished products.  One of the greatest improvements in quality has been advances in heating and cooling technology.  The faster the tomato can be heated and cooled, the better the color and flavor of the product.  The lower the temperature and shorter the time, the less the flavor will be affected.

A tomato product’s primary attributes are its color, solids, bostwick (thickness), texture, smell, and taste.  The importance of each depends on its use and the user’s taste.  As shown below, there are many types of both semi-prepared and fully prepared products to choose from.  For example, concentrated crushed tomatoes are a very similar product to pizza sauce, but the usual difference between them is the presence of basil in pizza sauce.  We’ve listed some of the varieties and their suggested uses.

Ground Peeled Tomatoes in Puree – Marinara sauce for pasta, sauce bases

Chopped Tomatoes in Light Puree – Marinara sauce for pasta, sauce bases

Pear Shaped Tomatoes in Juice w/Basil – Marinara sauce for pasta, sauce bases

Tomato Paste – Dilute and use for sauce, soups, etc.

Concentrated Crushed Tomatoes – Meat sauce base, pizza sauce, soups, etc.

Round Tomatoes in Juice – Whole, mashed, cut as needed for chowders, stews, soups, sauces, salads

Stewed Tomatoes in Juice – Serve as is, use for soups, stews, etc.

Tomato Sauce – Soups, stews, sauces

Pizza Sauce – Pizza (no oil)

Ground Unpeeled Tomatoes in Puree – Combine with pizza sauce for more tomato taste

Prepared Pizza Sauce w/Oil & Spice – Has oil and spice already in it

Spaghetti Sauce – Base for meat sauce or marinara sauce

Marinara Sauce – Base for meat sauce or marinara sauce

Diced Tomatoes in Juice – Same as round tomatoes except already cut up, more drained weight

Pasta Sauce – Pre-spiced for pasta

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