Most major brands of canned diced tomatoes are gluten-free. Some brands to look for include Hunt’s, Contadina, Muir Glen, and Cento. When checking labels, look for canned diced tomatoes only containing tomatoes and tomato juice/puree, without added thickeners or starches that may contain gluten.
Introducing Gluten-Free Canned Diced Tomatoes
For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, following a gluten-free diet is essential. This means avoiding foods containing wheat, barley, rye, and derivatives of those grains. While fresh fruits and vegetables are naturally gluten-free, packaged and canned foods require closer inspection of the ingredients label to look for potential sources of gluten. Canned diced tomatoes are a pantry staple for many home cooks. They provide an easy way to add tomatoes to recipes like chilis, pasta sauces, soups, casseroles, and more. But are all canned diced tomatoes gluten-free? Let’s take a closer look.
What Makes Canned Diced Tomatoes Gluten-Free?
Canned diced tomatoes are naturally gluten-free, as they are simply made from tomatoes harvested at peak ripeness. However, during processing, canning, and packaging, there is potential for cross-contamination with gluten-containing ingredients. Some canned tomato products also include added ingredients used as fillers, preservatives, or thickeners, which may contain gluten. Plain canned diced tomatoes from most major brands contain just tomatoes and tomato juice or tomato puree, making them a safe gluten-free choice.
Risk of Cross-Contamination
Even though the primary ingredients in canned diced tomatoes are gluten-free, there is a small chance of cross-contamination during processing and canning at facilities that also handle wheat-based ingredients. Some brands explicitly state on the label if items are produced in a dedicated gluten-free facility. Opting for these specialty gluten-free brands can provide extra assurance for highly sensitive individuals. For others, mainstream brands of plain canned diced tomatoes without gluten-containing additives pose a very low risk of trace gluten cross-contamination.
Added Ingredients to Watch Out For
While unlikely in plain canned diced tomatoes, it’s important to watch out for these potential sources of gluten in added ingredients:
- Wheat starch
- Barley malt or malt extract
- Modified food starch
- Hydrolyzed wheat protein
- Soy sauce or tamari (unless marked gluten-free)
- Malt vinegar
If the ingredients list contains any questionable additives, an item is better avoided. Stick to plain canned diced tomatoes without thickeners or seasoning blends that may add hidden gluten.
Major Brands and Product Lines
Fortunately, most popular national brands offer gluten-free canned diced tomatoes. Some even explicitly state “gluten-free” directly on the label for added assurance. Here’s an overview of some of the leading brands and different varieties to look for:
Hunt’s offers an extensive line of canned diced tomatoes. Their traditional diced tomatoes, fire roasted diced tomatoes, and organic diced tomatoes are all gluten-free. Hunt’s states that their products are gluten-free down to less than 20ppm.
Contadina is another brand with a wide selection of gluten-free canned diced tomatoes. Their traditional diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato puree, and petite diced tomatoes are reliably gluten-free based on the ingredient labels.
Muir Glen organic canned tomatoes are certified gluten-free and non-GMO. Their fire-roasted and regular diced tomato varieties are labeled “certified gluten-free” right on the packaging. Muir Glen tomatoes are produced in a dedicated gluten-free facility.
Cento is an Italian brand that produces gluten-free canned diced tomatoes. Their San Marzano and Italian-style diced tomatoes contain just tomatoes and tomato juice or puree. Cento states their products test below 5ppm of gluten.
The Kirkland Signature brand available at Costco offers organic diced tomatoes that are marked gluten-free right on the label. They are produced in facilities that also process wheat, but with stringent protocols to avoid cross-contamination.
Simple Truth Organic
Simple Truth Organic is Kroger’s natural grocery brand. Their petite diced tomatoes are certified gluten-free and say “gluten-free” directly on the label for peace of mind.
Safety Tips When Selecting Canned Diced Tomatoes
When purchasing any brand of canned diced tomatoes, keep these tips in mind to make a gluten-free-friendly choice:
- Read the ingredients list and look for added starches, malt ingredients, soy sauce, or seasoning mixes.
- Opt for tomatoes packed in juice or tomato puree rather than thickened sauces.
- Choose plain diced tomatoes without flavored seasonings or garlic.
- Select brands that explicitly state “gluten-free” on the label when possible.
- Compare products among brands to identify the simplest ingredients.
- Purchase cans free of dents, bulges, or damage to avoid potential contamination.
- Look for canned tomatoes packed in BPA-free cans, if concerned.
Being an informed shopper and vigilantly reading labels makes selecting safe gluten-free canned diced tomatoes much easier. When in doubt, contact the manufacturer directly to inquire about their processing practices and testing protocols.
Homemade vs. Canned Diced Tomatoes
While high-quality canned tomatoes offer convenience for cooking, some people prefer the flavor and texture of fresh tomatoes. Is it worth it to dice your own tomatoes at home? Let’s do a quick comparison.
Benefits of Canned Diced Tomatoes
- Convenient and ready to use
- Consistent flavor and quality year-round
- Long shelf life of 12-18 months when unopened
- More affordable out of season
- Smaller carbon footprint compared to fresh
Benefits of Homemade Diced Tomatoes
- Greater control over tomato variety and ripeness
- Fresher flavor and texture
- Avoid BPA liner concerns with canned products
- More nutritional value when peak season
- Fun do-it-yourself approach
Canned diced tomatoes offer reliable convenience, while homemade allows for nuanced flavor and texture. Combining the two by dicing peak season fresh tomatoes and freezing extras can provide year-round homemade diced tomatoes. Canning your own is also an option if willing to put in the time and effort.
How to Dice Tomatoes at Home
If you choose to dice your own tomatoes, follow these simple steps for uniform pieces perfect for soups, salads, salsas, and any recipe:
- Wash tomatoes and pat dry. Leave stem area intact for handling.
- Slice tomato crosswise into rounds about 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick.
- Lay slices flat and remove inner jelly and seeds if desired.
- Stack several slices atop each other and cut horizontally into 1/4- to 1/2-inch wide strips.
- Hold stacked strips together while cutting vertically into cubes. Aim for about 1/4 to 1/2-inch dice.
- Transfer diced tomatoes to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 5 days or freeze if not using immediately. Frozen diced tomatoes are best used within 6 months.
Use a large sharp knife and work carefully for the safest, most efficient dicing. Well-chilled tomatoes are firmer and easier to handle. Remove excess liquid and seeds for a thicker texture if desired. Adjust diced sizes based on the recipe and intended use.
How to Select Fresh Tomatoes for Dicing
Not all tomatoes are created equal when it comes to dicing. Follow these tips for selecting the best tomatoes:
- In-season tomatoes – Choose ripe in-season tomatoes for optimal flavor and texture.
- Meaty flesh – Prioritize tomatoes like Roma or beefsteak with thick, firm flesh that will hold its shape when diced.
- Underripe – Slightly underripe tomatoes are easier to dice neatly than overly ripe mushy ones.
- Size – Larger tomatoes make dicing easier and faster with bigger slices.
- Consistent – Pick tomatoes similar in shape, size, and ripeness for uniform dices.
- Unblemished – Avoid tomatoes with bruises, cracks, or soft spots.
Taste and experiment with different tomato varieties to discover your favorites for dicing. Store diced tomatoes promptly in the refrigerator or freezer to retain freshness and flavor.
Popular Uses for Canned Diced Tomatoes
Canned diced tomatoes are a versatile pantry staple that can be used in all types of savory dishes. Here are some of the most popular ways to use them:
Simmer canned diced tomatoes with olive oil, garlic, basil, and seasonings for an easy homemade marinara sauce. Add to any pasta for a quick meal.
Beans, onions, peppers, spices, and diced tomatoes are the base of most chili recipes. Use canned tomatoes for convenience and depth of flavor.
Soups and Stews
Add canned diced tomatoes to soups like minestrone, vegetarian chili, beef stew, and chicken tortilla soup. They provide rich tomato flavor and texture.
Casseroles and Bakes
For dishes like lasagna, eggplant parmesan, or enchiladas, canned diced tomatoes add moistness and cohesiveness to the casserole.
Salsas and Salads
For fresh salsas, use canned diced tomatoes as a base instead of chopping raw tomatoes. They also add juiciness and color to salads.
Curries and Stews
Curries like chicken tikka masala often start with a tomato base. Add canned diced tomatoes for convenience without compromising flavor.
Shakshuka is a Mediterranean dish of eggs poached in a spiced tomato sauce. Canned diced tomatoes help simplify this flavorful meal.
In addition to versatile flavor, canned diced tomatoes offer an array of nutrients. Here is an overview of the nutrition facts for a 1/2 cup serving of canned diced tomatoes:
|Vitamin C||16% DV|
|Vitamin A||8% DV|
|Vitamin K||6% DV|
Canned diced tomatoes provide vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, potassium, and lycopene antioxidants with minimal calories, fat, and sodium. Choosing low-sodium or no-salt-added varieties can further reduce the sodium content. While canned tomatoes are less nutrient-dense than fresh, they still offer a dose of key vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Price and Budget Comparison
One of the advantages of canned diced tomatoes is their value pricing compared to fresh tomatoes, especially when not in peak season. Here is a general price comparison:
- Canned diced tomatoes: $1 to $3 per 28-ounce can
- Fresh tomatoes: $2 to $4 per pound
Based on average prices, 28 ounces of canned diced tomatoes equates to about 1.75 pounds of fresh tomatoes. Canned is generally at least 25% less expensive than buying fresh tomatoes to dice at home. Sale prices and buying canned tomatoes in bulk can increase the savings further. Canned diced tomatoes provide year-round convenience without breaking the budget.
Storage and Shelf Life
Properly stored canned tomatoes have a lengthy shelf life, retaining quality for 1-2 years in the pantry. Here are some storage tips:
- Store unopened cans in a cool, dry place under 85°F.
- Avoid direct light exposure for maximum shelf life.
- Use opened canned tomatoes within 5-7 days.
- Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Freeze extra homemade diced tomatoes for 6-12 months of use.
- Inspect cans before use and discard any with rust, bulging sides, or dents.
The “best by” date on cans indicates peak quality rather than safety. Canned tomatoes stored properly can often last well beyond that printed date. If ever unsure about the safety of a can, it’s best to discard and not risk illness from spoiled food.
Searching for gluten-free convenience in the kitchen? For most people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, mainstream brands of canned diced tomatoes are a gluten-free-friendly pantry staple. Look for simple ingredients like tomatoes and tomato juice without added starches or questionable thickeners. While homemade diced tomatoes from fresh produce provide ultimate control, canned tomatoes offer consistency, affordability, and year-round shelf life. Whip up flavorful soups, sauces, bakes, salsas, and more with the ease of canned diced tomatoes.