Celia asks: In one of your recipes you said that if I’m going to use canned tomatoes, I should buy Italian San Marzano tomatoes. What’s so special about them?
In my recipe for Easy Homemade Tomato Sauce, I suggested that you buy canned Italian San Marzano tomatoes because they deliver a tangy, bright flavor… far superior to many other canned tomatoes. But what are San Marzano tomatoes?
San Marzano tomatoes are basically plum tomatoes with a lush, elegant flesh; they are grown in Italy’s southern Sarno River Valley. The tomatoes stay on the vine longer than many other varieties, which gives them a sweeter, less acidic taste.
They also have thinner skins with fewer seeds, so you have a firm, but supple bite, even after cooking them for a long time, like in my Homemade Tomato Sauce.
If you want to make sure the canned tomatoes you are buying are REAL San Marzanos, look for the Italian D.O.P. (or Denominazione di Origine Protetta) designation on the can. This means that the Italian tomato famers followed specific government agricultural rules. You can (sort of) equate these rules to the USDA regulations regarding products that can and cannot use the USDA Organic Seal.
Italian San Marzano tomatoes do have their detractors, so you’ll need to conduct your own taste test. If you can’t find real Italian San Marzano tomatoes, try whole Muir Glen Organic Tomatoes.