While I appreciate the classic graphic design of Nina brand’s Tomato Puree label, what gave me pause was the “specific gravity” listed right there on the label. I’m sure I have tucked away in the recesses of my mind the definition and importance of specific gravity, brought to me by Mrs. Marshall, my high school physics teacher, but I don’t seem to recall what, if anything, it had to do with tomatoes.
A quick Google on the iPhone and I was off to the Ketchup entry on Wikipedia, specifically the section on “Fancy Ketchup”. You can certainly read about it yourself, but the nutshell is this: There is an USDA “grade” system for ketchup based on its specific gravity (the ratio of a liquid’s density compared to water). Standard grade has a specific gravity of 1.11. Extra Standard 1.13, and, everyone’s favorite, Fancy Ketchup tops the chart with 1.15. The higher the grade, the more tomato solids and thus, the higher specific gravity when compared to water.
I’m no chef, so I’m not sure how important knowing the specific gravity of your tomato puree is to the cooking process, but the folks at Nina must know that it’s important enough to put right there on the front of the can. Finding out why a value of 1.06, just barely above water’s value of 1, makes this puree “Extra Heavy” is a Google/Wikipedia trip for another time.