Tomato Puree vs Crushed Tomatoes: How Different Are They?

Is there a real difference between tomato puree vs crushed tomatoes? At first glance, we would imagine the difference to be minimal. But as it turns out, there is a substantial difference between these items. Knowing these differences and how to work them could come in handy if you ever need to substitute these food products or find a way around them in a recipe.

Tomatoes are extremely versatile and manage to find use in countless recipes. Of course, many of these recipes use tomato products like tomato puree, tomato sauce, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, canned tomatoes, and a lot more. All of these have some differences, sometimes subtle and sometimes straightforward.

For now, let’s see how things turn out when we compare tomato puree and crushed tomatoes.

Tomato Puree vs Crushed Tomatoes
Crushed Tomatoes

Tomato Puree vs Crushed Tomatoes: The Differences

Here are the key points that differentiate these two famous tomato products.

  • Texture: Usually, tomato puree is plain and smooth. You could add some tomato chunks, but the recipe will have a fairly smooth texture. Crushed tomatoes are inevitably chunky. This product has large chunks of tomato floating in a gravy made from tomato puree.
  • Cooking Process: To make tomato puree, tomatoes are cooked and simmered for a long time. This is done for long enough to let plenty of water evaporate, thus reducing the mix to a slightly thick and smooth consistency. Crushed tomatoes usually involve tomatoes that are stewed, crushed, or diced, then floated in tomato puree or given a tomato paste cover.
  • Consistency: Tomato puree is fairly thick and lands somewhere between tomato paste and tomato sauce in consistency.  Crushed tomatoes show chunks of tomatoes floating in tomato puree.

As we see, there are clear differences between these two products that affect how they taste and what use they have in various recipes. And indeed, their texture affects how we enjoy the foods they’re used in. 

Puree and crushed tomatoes both have an effect on the taste, texture, and color of the recipe. Sometimes, that beautiful red color of a stew comes down to the addition of the tomato puree.

It’s worth noting that both these products use peeled tomatoes. Individual recipes can differ on when the tomatoes are peeled, but the final product in either case isn’t expected to contain tomato peels. 

They may also be deseeded, though this depends more on the individual recipe and preferences. However, most commercially available tomato puree and crushed tomatoes don’t include tomato seeds.

FAQ And Related Topics

Is It Possible To Substitute Tomato Sauce For Diced Tomatoes?

It is possible to use tomato sauce to substitute for diced tomatoes, but the application is limited to a few recipes. This is because tomato sauce and diced tomatoes have different consistency. Also, tomato sauce contains other products like herbs and spices, which will affect the overall taste and aroma of the food. Meanwhile, diced tomatoes are usually cut tomatoes canned with a liquid like tomato puree or even water.

Since there is an evident change in flavor here, the usage is limited to more savory recipes with a good mix of flavors. It might also be necessary to thicken the consistency of tomato sauce by reducing it over a flame, so it can better match the consistency of diced tomatoes.

Can You Freeze Fresh Tomato Puree?

Fresh tomato puree is usually hot, so it’s a good practice to allow it to cool down to room temperature before putting it in a freezer. When freezing the puree, be sure to use freezer-safe and airtight containers. Zip-top freezer bags are great for flat storage and can save space inside the freezer. Although, it is possible to use any freezer-safe container for this job.

Are There Different Types Of Canned Tomatoes?

Canned tomatoes is often an umbrella term that applies to a variety of tomato products that are canned and sealed. So, there are different types of canned tomatoes, and indeed, canned tomato products. 

Any canned tomato product usually starts with freshly-picked plum tomatoes. These are then peeled, processed, and cooked into various specific products before canning.

Your recipe may need a specific type of product and simply picking up a canned tomato won’t cut it. Read the label carefully before picking up a can, so it can work with the desired recipe. The following tomato products are available in a can and may sometimes carry the label of canned tomatoes:

  • Crushed tomatoes
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Whole peeled tomatoes
  • Stewed tomatoes
  • Tomato sauce
  • Pureed tomatoes
  • Tomato paste

Understanding The Key Differences

While they are related and seemingly similar, these are not the same products. There is a rather clear line that differentiates tomato puree vs crushed tomatoes. These items differ in taste, texture, and consistency. Different cooking methods are applied for both these items, making them fairly different from each other.

However, they are not entirely unrelated. While tomatoes form the base of each of these products, tomato puree and crushed tomatoes have more in common. Crushed tomatoes are usually canned with tomato puree, thus adding a familiarity of taste to both these products.

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