The 1 Reason You Should 'Never Ever' Use Fresh Tomatoes For Sauce

At least, not if you're in the UK, a chef says.
Stefania Pelfini, La Waziya Photography via Getty Images

If you’ve ever made a homemade tomato sauce, you’ll know that sizzling some fresh tommies down into a gloopy, jammy delight is one of the most satisfying cooking tasks around.

But is the time-consuming method actually... good?

Well, depending on where you are, probably not, former chef @SenpaiKai9000 shared on YouTube.

In a Short titled 5 Things Chefs Don’t Do, the pro said, “if you’re making a cooked tomato dish, never, ever use fresh tomatoes.”

OK, but... why?

I was a bit taken aback, too. But his reasoning makes sense.

He says that most of the time, fresh tomatoes should be absent from your sauce ― unless “you buy them from the farmer’s market in the middle of summer.”

If you don’t, he argues tinned tomatoes are a much better option as these are “picked in season at their absolute peak.”

Don’t believe him? Well, he’s not alone ― Jacob Kenedy, chef-owner of Bocca di Lupo in London, told The Guardian the same thing.

While he swears by the fresh kind in hotter, more tomato-friendly climates, in the UK, “it’s harder to get those flavoursome tomatoes, especially at the supermarket.”

“Unless you’re extremely lucky and can get really good fresh tomatoes, or grow your own, you’ll often be better off with something from a tin, jar or tube,” he said.

Why are fresh tomatoes so bad in the UK?

Well, part of it has to do with how mass-produced tomatoes are made.

“In the last five or six decades producers have focussed on high yield, introducing resistance to diseases and ship-ability – being able to grow them far away and ship vast distances,” Harry Klee, a biochemist who specialises in tomato flavour, told WIRED.

Some tomato farmers may also use rapid ripening techniques which make their crops blander, Klee revealed. “They’re just kind of tasteless because they haven’t developed the sugars, they haven’t developed the acids.”

And seeing as only a fifth of UK tomato supply comes from the UK (unless it’s summer, when the UK provides about half of its own fresh tommies), the elements that make imported versions bigger and longer-lasting aren’t likely to go away soon, even if they make your sauce more bland.

Still, good news for fellow canned tomato lovers ― if you’re based in the UK and don’t have access to your own tomatoes, you were right to stick to the tins all along.