San Marzano…Where The Plum Tomato is King

July 8, 2021

I am always intrigued when someone tells me that they grew the most prolific crop of San Marzano tomatoes and I want to let their enthusiasm down slowly when I tell them that no, they did not grow San Marzano, they grew plum tomatoes because there is only one place where San Marzano grows and that is in San Marzano, located near the sea in the valley of Mt. Vesuvius where the rich volcanic soil is the reason for the superior quality of this tomato. San Marzano IS a plum tomato but every plum tomato is not a San Marzano. San Marzano are so valued that they carry the coveted DOP status that guarantees where they come from and how they are processed. This does not mean that you need to make a trip to San Marzano to enjoy these tomatoes. They are sold in cans that carry the DOP and European Union symbols and the can must also include the words: Pomodoro San Marzano Agro Sarnese-Nocerino. These tomatoes are always canned whole, not chopped so that should be a tip off in getting the real thing in addition to the label.
San Marzano are beloved for making tomato- based sauces and are meaty with few seeds and low in acidity. Accept no substitutes.

Contrary to what some people think, it takes very little time to make tomato sauce either with fresh plum varieties or with canned San Marzano DOP.

Tomato Sauce
Makes about 3 1/2 cups

1/4-cup olive oil
One 28-ounce can DOP San Marzano plum tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
Salt to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
In a saucepan heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the garlic until it softens and begins to brown; remove and discard it. Use your hands to squeeze the tomatoes directly into the pot. Add salt and simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes, until the sauce has thickened slightly. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil.
More tomato based recipes at

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