Italy is famous for its fabulous food, and it should come as no surprise, certain ingredients are held in high regard when it comes to Italian cooking. Along with traditional balsamic vinegar like this, Prosciutto di Parma ham and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, the San Marzano tomato plant is held in exceptionally high regard.
This may come as a surprise to Americans who eat the mass-produced relatively flavorless varieties of plum tomato or roma tomato. If you have never tasted a delicious, properly grown heirloom tomato or San Marzano fruit, take our word for it, you’ll find a tremendous difference between these and typical commercially grown tomatoes.
What’s The Difference?
San Marzano tomatoes especially are very sweet with a very subtle amount of acidity. This combination creates a perfectly balanced tomato as the base for the sauce made from San Marzano tomatoes. It is this balance which makes them the top choice of the very best Italian chefs.
Not only do San Marzanos have the perfect combination of acidity and sweetness; they are also plump and finely textured and especially good for cooking.
Where Can You Get San Marzano Tomatoes?
Unfortunately, finding fresh San Marzano tomatoes for sale in the United States is quite difficult. You’re very likely to have to opt for canned tomatoes like this best seller. When purchasing canned tomatoes for Italian cooking in stores, be sure to look for certified San Marzanos, named after the region of Italy from whence they hail.
Growing near Mount Vesuvius they benefit tremendously from the volcanic soil and temperate climate. These are the same factors which make Kona coffee from Hawaii unique and incomparable.
While the San Marzano type of tomato can indeed grow in the United States and other places, only those certified as having been grown near Mount Vesuvius in Italy are the very best. Be as careful when selecting your canned San Marzanos as you would when selecting an olive oil or fine coffee.
There are purveyors of false and/or low-quality mixed versions of the genuine article. Always read the labels carefully to procure authentic, protected, certified San Marzano tomatoes in cans. The San Marzano Consortium oversees the certification of these tomatoes.
How To Grow The Tomato Known As San Marzano
Unless you have a volcano in your backyard, it’s unlikely your San Marzano tomatoes will be comparable to those imported from Italy. This should not stop you from taking this challenge on, though!
Experimenting with your soil amendments and growing conditions to produce the very best San Marzanos is an excellent project for an adventurous gardener.
These days it is certainly possible to buy the seedlings or the seeds of the San Marzano and try your hand at growing this Italian gourmet delight. The primary key is amending your soil properly to duplicate the fertile soil conditions of the volcanic fields of Naples.
Follow These Planting And Growing Tips To Succeed:
#1 – Purchase San Marzano seed or seedlings from a well-established source. Be certain you are buying a heritage type tomato, not a hybrid.
#2 – Start your seedlings early. You should begin approximately two months before the date of your last predicted frost. Be sure to use a high-quality potting soil with fish meal and compost added.
#3 – Start your seedlings in a reliably warm environment and keep the soil lightly moist at all times. Covering the seedlings with a transparent cover can help produce these conditions.
#4 – If you sow seedlings over a single surface, thin them to approximately two inches apart after the appearance of the second set of leaves. If you planted them two or three seeds per small peat pots, allow the strongest to remain and remove the weaker plants.
#5 – Approximately a week after the final frost of winter, begin acclimating the seedlings to the outdoor environment. Let them stay outside for a few hours during the warmest part of the day for a couple of weeks.
#6 – When the plants reach a height of six inches, transplant them in full sun to the garden or their permanent containers. Be sure the soil contains these components:
These ingredients will help mimic volcanic soil conditions.
Related Reading: Best Organic Fertilizer For Tomatoes
#7 – Set the seedlings, so the top set of leaves is two or three inches above the soil level. Remove the lower leaves of the plant, leaving the top leaves in place. Fill in around the seedling with your amended soil and pack it in firmly by hand.
#8 – Create a moat around each plant for watering. Keep the plants well-watered, but never allow them to become soggy. Watering a couple of inches a week should be perfect for garden plants. If you have planted in containers, you will need to monitor and water as needed closely.
#9 – Provide your tomatoes with support by using a tomato cage or poles. Secure them carefully using strips of pantyhose which will hold them in place without damaging stems.
Patience & Persistence Pay Off!
You should have some good San Marzano tomatoes approximately three months after planting your seedlings. Pick them when they feel slightly soft when squeezed.
You should be able to harvest some tasty tomatoes until the first frost. Just before the first frost, gather your green tomatoes and let them ripen indoors. Now enjoy all the full tomato flavor, in sauce and salads.