The Giant Can of Crushed Tomatoes (vs. growing my own)


I stood on a winter’s day in the big box store, contemplating an enormous can of Premium Crushed Tomatoes in Rich Puree for less than three dollars. Thirteen-and-change cups of crushed tomatoes should make a whole lot of FODMAP-friendly ketchup and barbeque sauce. Easily. But … how was the quality?

I yielded to temptation and bought a can. We all need to experiment with new products from time to time.


If you like plenty of lightly ground tomato peel in your sauce, and you don’t mind an unknown amount of citric acid and calcium chloride, these are for you! But some of us dislike the chemicals, and I can’t digest that much peel.

Using my trusted Foley Food Mill, I sieved about a cup of ground peel (including way too much wasted pulp and juice) out of half the big can, froze the rest, and chalked up one more learning experience. The ketchup is all right, but…

I can’t wait for summer and vine-ripe fruit. In early May, my seedlings are stretching toward the grow lights. They’re Black Sea Man, an heirloom variety beloved by my late brother-in-law. BSM makes outstanding ketchup. Also spaghetti, Swiss steak, soup and salad. Did you know that “ugly” heirloom tomatoes taste so good because the green-shoulders gene also yields the sweet, sharp taste of home-grown tomatoes? Honest. Here’s a link to an excellent story on the topic.

I live in USDA Zone 4 (there’s a great gardening magazine by that name), where it’s hazardous to put tomato plants in the ground before June 1. One of the commonest mistakes of mountain-state gardeners is starting their tomato seeds too early, under too little light. I’ve done it. My sister the horticulturist suggests that Zone 4 gardeners should start tomatoes on tax day and lessen the pain a little.

Grow your own! Quarter and freeze them! It’s so easy! Unless, of course, there’s hail—or deer—or an early frost—or a cool, cloudy summer—

Hm. Maybe that giant can wasn’t an altogether foolish experiment.

If you grow tomatoes, what variety works best where you live?

FAQs: Do I really need all those different flours to bake gluten-free?


FAQs: Do I really need all those different flours to bake gluten-free?

First, for those of us following the low-FODMAP regimen, remember that it might not be wheat’s gluten that we have to avoid, but its fructans. More about fructans another day.

But we do bake wheat-free, which amounts to gluten-free. So, about all those different flours—my answer is “yes, but maybe not all at once.”

Gluten-rich wheat flour has the body, flavor, and color that we expect. Gluten’s stretchiness gave rise (baking pun—sorry) to traditions from croissants to baklava. It’s in pizza and pancakes and even pasta. When we blend gluten-free flours and starches—some of which provide body, while others give dough flavor, or color, or a bit of stretchiness—it’s possible to almost duplicate many of our old favorite foods.

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