Research shows that the lining in metal cans contain a toxic chemical called BPA, bisphenol-A. Tomatoes are so acidic that they react to the chemical and it’s released into the food. There are so many horrible side effects to BPA it is highly encouraged that you avoid metal canned tomatoes whenever possible. Now, there are certain companies that are creating BPA free metal cans. They just aren’t as widely used yet.
As a result, I started canning my own tomatoes years ago. The only problem is that it takes 6-7 pounds of fresh tomatoes to create one quart of canned tomatoes. I went crazy one summer and canned three huge boxes worth of tomatoes from the Farmer’s Market. I was working with others, so I had to share the fruits of our labor, but my canned beauties only lasted one year. Needless to say, I was a little discouraged after all of that hard work. This year I was prepared to try again simply because I miss having a batch in the pantry and I don’t like buying the metal canned tomatoes.
When I mentioned my upcoming project, both my mother and sister thought I should consider making my own spaghetti sauce. My sister makes hers in a crockpot, adds the spices she likes and stocks up for the year. My husband and I consume an awful lot of spaghetti sauce. If I was going to make my own spaghetti sauce, I needed to get started now.
Normally, I purchase Bertolli spaghetti sauce because it tastes delicious and goes on sale every three months. I can add extra spices or leave it alone. The sauce comes in a glass jar, but it never crossed my mind to check for preservatives. I started my research by looking at two brands: Bertolli and Barilla. When they’re on sale, it’s less than $1.50 per 24 oz. jar. Barilla did have preservatives in it, however Bertolli did not.
Before I dropped my suspicions, I looked even more carefully at the few ingredients listed on the Bertolli jar. It listed tomato puree (tomato paste and water) and diced tomatoes. I have seen chefs on the Food Network use metal canned tomatoes to create spaghetti sauce. How would I know if Bertolli was doing the same? It was possible that Bertolli took the diced tomatoes and tomato paste from BPA metal cans, created their sauce and put the final product in a pretty glass jar. Before I became paranoid and defaced one of my guilty pleasure brands, I decided to go straight to the source.
I contacted Bertolli via e-mail and they got back to me within a day. I just wanted more information. I called them yesterday and spoke to a representative who confirmed that Bertolli only uses fresh ingredients. The tomato paste and diced tomatoes are not from BPA cans.
Now that I knew this was a safe product, I had to know for sure if it was a better deal to buy the Bertolli or make my own spaghetti sauce.
My Math –
- 6-7 lbs of fresh tomatoes = 1 Quart of Spaghetti Sauce
- 6-7 lbs on super sale = .50 per pound
- .50 x 6.5 lbs = $3.25 for homemade spaghetti sauce
* not including any additional spices, fresh herbs or additions
- 1 Quart = 32 ounces
- $3.25 divided by 32 ounces = .10
- It costs around .10 cents per ounce
- $1.50 for 24 ounces
- $1.50 divided by 24 ounces = .06
- It costs around .06 cents per ounce
Easy conclusion: it isn’t worth it to make your own spaghetti sauce. Unless you have a tomato garden, the cost for the produce alone is more. This does not include the cost of the canning supplies, herbs, or time needed to make the spaghetti.
Just because Bertolli doesn’t use BPA products, don’t mean that all spaghetti sauces are the same. The best way to be sure is to contact the source. The effects it could have long term is worth the time researching. I will have to can more tomatoes this year, but I can at least save some time and buy the spaghetti sauce.