If a recipe calls for a can of chopped tomatoes but I only have whole (big) tomatoes from my garden

Ok - I’m very sure that this is a dumb question but I’ll ask anyway. First time doing a garden and I went with tomatoes for one of my plants so I have a ton of them. I wanted to make this pasta sauce recipe and it calls for 1 Can Chopped tomatoes (http://www.food.com/recipe/arrabiata-penne-407452). What does this mean if I’m doing it from scratch? Should I dice the tomato up like I’m making pico de gallo (no pulp, all outside skin stuff) or does it mean that I blanch the tomato, and use the “meat” from the tomato? Sorry, I’m new and I don’t want to screw up and waste my crop.

I would blanch them first.

To get rid of the skin, put the tomatoes into boiling water very briefly so the the skin can be easily peeled off. However, generally I don’t bother: I just dice the fresh tomatoes into small pieces and throw them into the dish with the skin on.

An even better way to get rid of the skin, or if you have too many tomatoes to eat at once, is to freeze the tomatoes, then put them into boiling water very briefly. (This only works for cooking tomatoes: frozen tomatoes don;t work very well in salads.)

Chop them up, put them in an empty can, and dump them in the pot.

I score the skin with a razor blade the blanch 'em and drop 'em into an ice bath.

Moved from General Questions to Café Society.

samclem, moderator

the main difference I can think of is that canned tomatoes have tomato juice packed with them, so it’s saucier than fresh tomatoes. You might be able to get away with it anyway by skinning the tomatoes (but leaving the insides including seeds, etc.) and using a little more than 14 ounces if your tomatoes are juicy.


Only pussy cooks skin tomatoes. Two big fresh tomatoes, chopped, skin and seeds and juice and all, should equal one 15 oz can.

So what I’m hearing is that I’m for sure using the inside pulp, correct?

What are you making?

Never mind, I see the link. For that recipe I’d blanch and skin the tomatoes and leave the pulp. You could probably just throw them in a blender for 15 seconds since chopping them will be messy & you’ll lose juice.

I only have a can of tomatoes but the recipe calls for a whole one; is there any way of reassembling them?

Stick them together with tomato paste.

What are “skin tomatoes”?

If you just chop up the fresh tomatoes and throw them into your dish, it won’t be quite as “saucy,” like **tenacious j **said. You can keep some of those tiny cans of tomato paste on hand to help counter that. If you’re making the right kind of dish, you can also give the (near) finished product a few whirs of an immersion blender to saucify things up.

’pus•sy adj. Weak or lacking in character. [Origin unknown; possibly a shortened form of pusillanimous.]

cook n.s. One who cooks food, often for a living.

skin v.t. To remove the skin from something, often with a knife.


That deserves a polite golf clap.

That was pretty good.

I quarter or halve the tomatoes and throw 'em in. Then, after they cook a bit, I can pick out the few, large pieces of skin. A potato masher will hasten the big tomato chunks along on their way to becoming sauce.

And it’ll taste much better than canned.