Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Adventures with the tomato...Part II...San Marzano Tomatoes…Parlate Italiano…?

San Marzano tomatoes are a variety of plum tomatoes, and are considered by many chefs to be the best sauce tomatoes in the world. They come from a small town of the same name near Naples, Italy, grown in volcanic soil in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius.

The volcanic soil is believed to act as a filter for water impurities. Compared to the Roma Tomatoes with which most people are familiar, Marzano tomatoes are thinner and pointier in shape. The flesh is much thicker with fewer seeds, and the taste is much stronger, less sweet and less acidic. Many people describe the taste as bittersweet, like high-quality chocolate.

parlate Italiano ?

Because of their high quality and origins near Naples, San Marzano tomatoes have been designated as the only tomatoes that can be used for Vera Pizza Napoletana (true Neapolitan pizza).

Through commercial production of the San Marzano variety is most closely associated with Italy, seeds for the variety are available worldwide, often labeled as an heirloom variety, frequently imported from Italy, and sold at a premium over more common varieties. The San Marzano vines are indeterminate and have a somewhat longer season than other paste tomato varieties, making them more suitable for warmer climates.

bathing beauties...

The name denotes both a point of origin and a variety of tomato. Canned Marzano Tomatoes are grown in Italy in compliance with Italian law will have the EU and DOP emblem on the label.

As is typical of heirloom plants, San Marzano is an open-pollinated variety that breeds true from generation to generation, making seed saving practical for the home gardener or farmer.

I wanted to shares the history of this succulent and delicious native Italian fruit with all of you. I also wanted to remind after our tomato season is over,
there is no reason to settle for pale tasteless tomatoes in your autumn and winter salads.
These delicious tomatoes will crown any cold winter weather salad with Neapolitan sunshine.


A Brush with Color said...

Those photos are divine, Therese Marie! They're like little bathing beauties lined up in the sun! ;)) And I love your information about the foods you're profiling. I have used these tomatoes before, but never gave too much thought to things like the volcanic soils etc that nurtured them. Interesting! I am sure to learn a lot on your blog!

terrie said...

Merci beaucoup, encore Sue...
I glad that you like my San Marzano bathing beauties.
I appreciate your support on my baby-blog so very much...! ! !

terrie said...

For cher Karen that kindly commented on my San Marzano tomato image on Flickr...

I loved your comments on the San Marzano tomatoes...

You are right that some have an off-taste as they are often canned with various herbs.
Also some taste a bit off because even if the label states that they are San Marzano, all tomatoes are not grown on the same farm and the "terrior" or conditions of the soil vary from farm to farm, even in this small area.

Also you have to look for the DOP (like the AOC in France) that denotes that the can contains true San Marzano tomatoes and not just and Italian imposters.
I have seen dozens of cans labeled "Italian Tomatoes" it is worth looking for the DOP San Marzano label.
If they are true San Marzanos, the DOP is emblazoned loud and proud.

I have tried dozens of brands as I go to an area in Chicago, much like the North End of Boston that has many Italian markets.
After much sampling, I find that there are only two that have a clean, sun warmed lovely tomato flavor.

The one that I picture on my Flickr page, and on my blog, and the Dell'Alpe brand from the Sarnese-Nocerino Area are my favorites.
My good friend that is a chef swears by these 2 brands.
They are a bit pricier, but in the dead of winter...SO worth a few more coins for the taste.

I will definitely try the Muir Glen brand tomatoes, they sound wonderfully full of flavor.