When it comes to canned vegetables and fruits, I used to buy whatever the recipe said. If it called for diced tomatoes, that's what I got. If it wanted cut green beans, there was no way I would purchase the whole canned beans. I didn't want to mess up the dish, so I did what I was told.
Over time, I came to realize something: the diced tomatoes were a whole lot more watery than the whole ones, and the Green Giant cut beans seems to disintegrate a little bit faster than other green beans. So I decided to only opt for whole canned vegetables and fruits.
But first a little bit about canned vegetables themselves.
Are Canned Vegetables Healthy?
They are vegetables, so they have to be healthy, right? Well, somewhat. Take a look at the back of the label and you'll probably see added sodium, which is salt. And while a little salt is an essential nutrient, high sodium intake could lead to health concerns according to Food Insight. To battle this, look for "low-sodium" foods and drain and rinse the canned vegetables before cooking.
This was also a keying factor in deciding whether I liked using diced or whole canned vegetables and here are 6 other reasons why.
1. They cook better.
Diced foods have additives like calcium chloride to help them retain their shape as they cook. This means that diced tomatoes will never cook down into a beautiful puree. Sometimes that might be nice if you really want the shape to stand out, but I'd rather add raw tomatoes if most times I want to have a texture to my sauces.
Whether you're making a delicious vegetable soup, a stew, or a sauce, opt for whole kernel sweet corn or Green Giant whole green beans. Trust us, it'll taste so much better!
2. Whole vegetables give you more options.
Whenever I'm taking fresh vegetables and turning them into canned food during the canning process, I keep this in mind. Once it's diced, it can't be undiced, so using whole vegetables allows you more flexibility. You can still chop them up, but you could also cook them whole or puree them into a sauce.
This is especially important if you're working with mixed vegetables. Once they're chopped, it's impossible to get the blend to work together just the way you want them to. So it might be better to buy a whole bunch of whole vegetables and work with them that way.
3. You always know what you're getting.
There are no surprises. If you go in for whole canned tomatoes, you'll always get whole tomatoes. You'll never open the can and say, "Huh, that's not what I thought it would look like." They always look and taste exactly like you expect them to. This is especially important if you're trying to impress dinner party guests with a recipe you've nailed in the past.
Sometimes the cut vegetables are slightly different every time you get them, so opt for the whole veggies and know what you're buying.
4. They're usually of better quality
When canning manufacturers are making their canned goods, they separate their fruits and vegetables into grades. They take the higher quality product and save those for the whole canned fruits. Why use a perfect apple for canned sliced apples? They use the apple that is half ruined so they can slice and throw away the bad parts!
If you want the highest quality fruits and vegetables, you'll find them in whole canned vegetables.
5. Canned vegetables are better than frozen vegetables.
Most vegetables are canned at the peak of their quality, which means canning really preserves all of the essential nutrients in the fruit or vegetable. For example, whole kernel corn is removed from the cob, heated quickly to destroy microorganisms or foodborne illness, and canned. Similarly, farm-style green beans go straight from the field to a 15 oz. can, with a brief heat to keep them safe. No preservatives needed - the food is perfect to eat for years!
Vitamins A, C, abeta-caroteneene hold up better in canning than in freezing, so canned vegetables actually are better for you than frozen vegetables!
6. Save pantry space.
Stocking up on only whole canned veggies and fruits also means that you can save space by stocking less variety in your pantry. There's no need to buy a variety of canned tomatoes and pasta sauces if you can always dice the whole ones, puree them, or crush them later.
It's great to have more space in the pantry for other household essentials, so stock up on the whole varieties!
This post was originally published on June 28, 2019.
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