Tuesday, September 25, 2012

San Marzano Tomatoes

 “The San Marzano tomato is Italy's most famous plum tomato, grown in Campania, the home of pizza -- since the middle ages. The tomato is prized for its tart flavor, firm pulp, red color, low seed-count and easily removed skin. It is widely used in both pizza and pasta, though recently it has become famous around the world as the base for Vera Pizza Napoletana. It's interesting to note that Naples lays claim not only as the home of pizza, but also tomato-based pasta dishes -- both enjoyed by local royalty in the 17th century.”

“The San Marzano tomato is now protected by tight rules, like many wines, cheeses and even Pizza Napoletana, obtaining the DOP (Denominazione d' Origine Protetta) label in 1996 from the European Union for the processed product.” To make sure you get the real thing, the D.O.P. products are marked. These are grown in the Sarnese Nocerino area of Italy, renowned for its especially fruitful soil as a result of its proximity to Mount Vesuvius.

The canned San Marzano tomato is better than most fresh supermarket varieties. If these are not readily available near where you live, you can buy canned San Marzano tomatoes online at Amazon.com although they are not cheap. The Italians claim that it’s not just the tomato but where it’s grown (volcanic soil) that contribute the high character in this tomato. You may grow your own; vines start bearing later in the summer. There is little doubt in this author’s mind that these tomatoes make a superior sauce if you do not have home grown or farm fresh ripe tomatoes.

Common Brands include Cento, Colucchio, Lavalle, and Strianese. Avoid cans without the DOP marking.

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