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 is held in exceptionally high regard.
This may come as a surprise to Americans who eat the mass-produced relatively flavorless variety of plum tomato or roma tomato. If you have never tasted a delicious, properly grown heirloom tomato or San Marzano tomato, 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 a tomato sauce. 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, 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.
Is It Possible to Grow Your Own Excellent San Marzano Tomatoes?
Unless you have a volcano in your backyard, you are unlikely to grow San Marzano tomatoes 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 tomato 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.
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.