Should you spend on this well-known Italian delicacy?
Have you ever tried San Marzano tomatoes? They’re considered the Ferrari or Prada of canned tomato varieties, and loyalists say they are well worth the higher price tag compared to other canned Italian tomatoes or domestically produced canned tomatoes. Recently there has been some controversy about this famed Italian food product, so we set out to find out why San Marzano tomatoes are so beloved and whether or no they are actually as good as fans believe. Let’s get one thing clear right away: Canned tomatoes are a pantry staple that our editors usually have on hand; they’re perfect for Marinara sauce and so many other recipes.
How Are San Marzano Different to Other Canned Tomatoes?
San Marzano is both a tomato variety and an Italian region. The San Marzano tomato is a type of plum tomato, and it’s longer and thinner than the typical plum tomato you might see sold fresh in grocery stores or buy canned. They also contain less seeds than regular plum tomatoes. San Marzano tomatoes are not found in all canned tomatoes from Italy, and to add to the confusion, San Marzano tomatoes grow outside of Italy as well. In fact, they are now also grown in the U.S., and their seeds are widely available, which means you could grow San Marzano tomatoes in your vegetable patch.
What first made American cooks seek out San Marzano tomatoes were cans of the official DOP San Marzano tomatoes, grown in a relatively small region between Naples and Salerno. DOP is the Italian acronym for Protected Designation of Origin, which applies to delicacies such as Parmigiano-Reggiano and balsamic vinegar. These tomatoes are well-known for their well-balanced taste, which mixes sweetness, tomatoey richness, and just the appropriate amount of acid.
How Do You Know If Your Tomatoes Are San Marzano?
San Marzano tomatoes, like honey and olive oil, have been the target of forgery. There are many facets to this. Italian San Marzano tomatoes cultivated outside of the recognized territory have gradually become accessible in the United States. They may be the same tomato, cultivated in the same soil, and canned in the same way, but they are not DOP San Marzano. Numerous American canned tomato firms now offer locally grown San Marzano tomatoes, which may be less expensive options. You may also prefer their taste to the DOP ones (or you might not).
There’s also flagrant fraud to be careful of; customers are advised to search for the DOP label on the can, which confirms the presence of the coveted tomatoes. Yet, there have been reports of DOP labels being placed on imported Italian tomatoes after they arrive in the United States. If DOP San Marzano tomatoes are for sale, they may not be the real article. If you want to try real San Marzano tomatoes, look for a can and use it in a favorite dish. Next try the same recipe with a can of Italian San Marzano tomatoes cultivated outside of the DOP area, and then with a can of American San Marzano tomatoes. Compare the final outcomes of each tomato kind and decide which you prefer.