How Many Tomatoes Are There In A Can? (Whole, Diced, Crushed)

How Many Tomatoes Are There In A Can? (Whole, Diced, Crushed)

Key Takeaways

  • A 14.5 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes equals about 1 lb or 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes.
  • A 28 oz can of diced tomatoes provides around 4 cups chopped, equal to 10-12 whole fresh tomatoes.
  • Crushed canned tomatoes contain about 3 cups crushed tomato flesh per 28 oz can.
  • Tomato sauce and puree add flavor but don’t replicate fresh tomato texture.
  • Tomato paste is highly concentrated – a little provides big tomato flavor.

Summer’s bounty of ripe, juicy tomatoes is a joy to behold. But when tomato season ends, how do you continue enjoying its sweet flavor? Canned tomatoes to the rescue! Their convenience can’t be beat. But substituting fresh tomatoes for canned can be tricky if you don’t know how they equate.

Let’s crack open the math on canned tomato equivalents so you can easily substitute them in recipes.

Some Key Benefits of Cooking with Canned Tomatoes

Canned tomatoes offer some major advantages over fresh tomatoes for cooking:

Convenience is a major advantage of canned tomatoes. They eliminate the tedious prep work required when cooking with fresh tomatoes. Tasks like washing, coring, seeding, peeling, and chopping fresh tomatoes can be time-consuming and messy. But canned tomatoes come ready to use straight from the can without all that prep. Whether your recipe calls for crushed, diced, whole, or sauce tomatoes, canned varieties mean you can skip the knife work and start cooking immediately. This makes them perfect for quick weeknight meals.

Another benefit of canned tomatoes is their consistent flavor. The taste of fresh tomatoes can vary widely depending on the variety, season, ripeness level, and growing conditions. But with canned tomatoes, you get dependably good tomato flavor every time. Tomatoes destined for canning are harvested at peak ripeness when flavor is optimal. The canning process locks in that ripe tomato taste before it can deteriorate. So no matter what month you open a can, you are assured tasty tomatoes with good flavor.

In terms of affordability, canned tomatoes shine as well. When tomatoes are in season locally, fresh ones are affordable. But prices rise steeply in the winter when tomatoes must be shipped long distances. Canned tomatoes deliver budget-friendly flavor year-round since they are processed when tomato prices are lowest. Their long shelf life also means less food waste, further driving down costs. Per ounce, canned tomatoes provide more flavor for fewer dollars than fresh.

Finally, canned tomatoes last significantly longer than fresh. Unopened cans keep for 1-2 years in the pantry versus just days for fresh tomatoes. Canning stops food spoilage in its tracks by removing oxygen and sterilizing contents. So canned tomatoes won’t go bad before you can use them up, unlike fresh varieties. Their long shelf life allows buying in bulk when prices drop.

How Does the Canning Process Preserves Fresh Flavor

Canning may seem like it would destroy a tomato’s delicate flavor and texture, but that’s not the case. Here’s how the canning process preserves that just-picked freshness:

  • Tomatoes are harvested fully ripe when sugars are high and flavor is peak. Under-ripe tomatoes would lack flavor.
  • They are rapidly transported to canneries close to farms to minimize the time between vine and can.
  • Tomatoes are washed, peeled, and prepared, then sealed into cans within hours of picking.
  • Cans are heat sterilized to prevent spoilage but not cooked further. This maintains texture.
  • Salt, citric acid, or calcium chloride may be added for preservation, firmness, and flavor.

How To Substitute Canned Tomatoes For Fresh Ones?

Whole Peeled Canned Tomatoes

Whole peeled tomatoes are the closest you can get to fresh tomato flavor and texture. Choosing tomatoes canned this way provides a bright, sweet flavor similar to just-picked tomatoes.

The most common can sizes for whole peeled tomatoes are 14.5 oz and 28 oz. Here’s how they break down:

14.5 oz can: This size can hold approximately 5-6 medium whole peeled tomatoes. That’s equal to about 1 pound or 2 cups of chopped fresh tomatoes. So for any recipe needing 1 pound or 2 cups of chopped fresh tomatoes, a 14.5 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes can be substituted.

28 oz can: The larger 28 oz cans contain around 10-12 whole peeled tomatoes. That equates to about 2 pounds or 4 cups of chopped fresh tomatoes. Use this size can when a recipe calls for 2 pounds or 4 cups of chopped fresh tomatoes.

The actual number of tomatoes per can will vary slightly based on the tomato variety and size. But these estimates provide a helpful guideline.

Diced Canned Tomatoes

Diced canned tomatoes offer convenience, especially for dishes like soups, stews, and chilis where having uniformly chopped tomatoes is helpful. Though not exactly identical to fresh, they can make suitable substitutes.

A 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes will provide around 2 cups of chopped tomato pieces. This equals about 5-6 medium whole tomatoes once chopped. For recipes specifying 2 cups of freshly diced tomatoes, a 14.5 oz can of diced makes an easy swap.

With a 28 oz can, you’ll get approximately 4 cups diced tomato pieces, equivalent to 10-12 whole tomatoes chopped. Use this larger size when a recipe calls for 4 cups of fresh diced tomatoes.

One thing to note with diced tomatoes is that they often contain calcium chloride. This helps the tomato pieces maintain their shape and firmness during canning. So diced tomatoes will not break down during cooking as quickly as fresh tomatoes would. Expect them to retain more texture.

Crushed Canned Tomatoes

Nothing breaks down into rich, delicious sauce quite like crushed canned tomatoes. Their fairly smooth, almost pureed texture makes them a go-to for pasta sauces, pizza toppings, and shakshuka.

A 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes will contain around 3 cups of crushed tomato flesh and juices. This equals approximately 10 medium whole tomatoes once crushed. The more tomato flesh is broken down, the more it cooks down in volume.

When a recipe calls for 3 cups of fresh crushed tomatoes, you can easily substitute a 28 oz can of crushed canned tomatoes.

Tomato Sauce and Tomato Puree

While not exactly the same as fresh tomatoes, tomato sauce, and puree can work in a pinch for adding tomato flavor and thickness to recipes.

Tomato sauce is lightly cooked and seasoned with ingredients like onion, garlic, and basil. It provides a convenient shortcut for seasoning. A 15 oz can of tomato sauce equals about 1 1/2 cups of crushed fresh tomatoes.

Tomato puree provides a thicker consistency and deeper flavor than sauce. A 24 oz can of tomato puree equates to 4-5 medium tomatoes cooked down into a smooth, thick puree.

When substituting tomato sauce or puree for fresh tomatoes, you may need to adjust seasonings and thickness. Treat them more as tomato-flavored ingredients rather than straight tomato replacements.

Tomato Paste

Due to its ultra-concentrated flavor and thick, almost paste-like texture, tomato paste acts more as a flavor booster than a straight tomato substitute in recipes.

A 6 oz can of tomato paste is made by cooking down anywhere from 6-8 pounds of fresh tomatoes into a thick concentrate. This amount of fresh tomatoes cooks down significantly, reducing to just 2-3 tablespoons of paste.

When using tomato paste, small amounts of 1-2 tablespoons can provide a big tomato flavor, especially in sauces, stews, and soups. But tomato paste’s concentrated, cooked flavor is no match for the brightness of fresh tomatoes.

Comparison between fresh tomatoes and canned tomatoes

omparison PointsFresh TomatoesCanned Tomatoes
ConvenienceRequire prep like washing, peeling, de-seeding, choppingReady to use straight from the can
Consistencycomparison PointsAlways picked and canned at peak ripeness for consistent good flavor
CostAffordable in season, expensive off-seasonAffordable year-round since processed at harvest peak
Shelf lifeLast only 5-7 days refrigeratedCan last 1-2 years unopened in pantry
TextureJuicy and tender when perfectly ripeFlavor and quality vary by season, variety, ripeness
TasteSuperior flavor when ripe and in seasonStill tasty but some fresh nuances are lost in the canning
NutritionHigher vitamin C and some antioxidants when very freshLower vitamin C content but still decent nutritional value

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you freeze canned tomatoes?

Yes, freezing can extend the shelf life of opened canned tomatoes. portion them into reusable containers, plastic bags, or ice cube trays and freeze them for 2-3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before using.

Are canned tomatoes acidic enough for canning recipes?

Most canned tomatoes are not acidic enough on their own for safe water bath canning. Add lemon juice or citric acid to canned tomatoes used in home canning recipes to achieve the needed acidity level.

Final Thoughts

Canned tomatoes are a versatile kitchen staple that can make cooking easier and more affordable year-round. Understanding the different tomato can sizes and styles helps ensure you get the texture and flavor you want.

Follow substitutions suitable to the tomato product called for in recipes. With the right know-how, canned tomatoes can bring summery flavor to dishes anytime you crave them. Keep your pantry well-stocked with tomato cans for convenience and savings on delicious home cooking.


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Mohsin
By Mohsin

Hi, I’m Mohsin, creator of Tomato about website. I have over a two decade of gardening experience and I love helping others growing healthy tomatoes!


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