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15 September 2021

The Annual Tomato Harvest: Our Favorite Time of Year

When you hear “it’s the most wonderful time of the year,” you probably think of the December holidays, family, snow, comfy clothes, and gifts. But here at Pastene, we see the most wonderful time of the year a little differently. For us, the real Christmas comes in September with harvest season and a fresh crop of big, bright, bursting-with-flavor Pastene tomatoes!

Not Your Average Tomatoes

Needless to say, at Pastene, we take our tomatoes very seriously. We believe that if there’s one thing worth obsessing over, it’s the quality and freshness of our ingredients. That is an area where compromise is not an option.

Each tomato that goes into our iconic, yellow-labeled cans is grown in Italy or California and is scrutinized by our quality control team for key quality attributes, ensuring that only the best of the best make the cut. We work closely with our field department and our growers/owners to plant and harvest our varieties, working across a balanced seasonal delivery curve, in order to ensure we supply retailers with a year’s worth of fresh-packed Pastene tomatoes. For our famed California-grown, Kitchen Ready Tomatoes ®, our uncompromising process ensures that no more than five hours pass between our tomatoes being picked and when they are packed. Now that’s fresh! In those five short hours, our tomatoes are steam-peeled (unlike other brands, Pastene does not use chemicals to remove skin), crushed, and packed, so that when you serve them, they taste like they were pulled from your own garden.

California Tomatoes

Thanks to the ideal climate, the state of California grows more than 90% of America’s canned tomato products and nearly half of the world’s entire supply. In fact, even some of California’s smallest tomato producers annually harvest more tomatoes than some entire countries!

Perpetually faced with drought conditions, California tomato growers are among the most innovative, resourceful, and efficient farmers in the world. Despite severe droughts and wildfires in California, Pastene growers’ sustainability practices that conserve water and protect fields have resulted in a strong crop yield year after year that continues to meet our rigorous quality standards.

Italian Tomatoes

One variety of Italian tomatoes is far and above the rest when it comes to cooking: renowned for their low acidity, plump, meaty, sweet flesh, and versatility, San Marzano tomatoes rule the culinary roost.

Harvested between August and September, San Marzano tomatoes are hand-picked at the peak of their dark, ruby-red ripeness. Authentic San Marzano tomatoes have an official D.O.P. (Denominazione d’Origine Protetta or “Protected Designation of Origin”) notation on the can or jar, so you know you’re getting tomatoes straight from Italy’s Sarnese-Nocerino region, which resides in the rich, fertile soil at the base of Mount Vesuvius. In fact, it is against Italian labeling laws to use the words “San Marzano” on the label in any form unless the tomatoes are grown in this region and are grown in the traditional way—vertical plants with fruit off the ground, harvested by hand.

All of Pastene’s San Marzano Tomatoes are imported directly from Italy. Each can is individually numbered and authenticated by the official D.O.P. notation, so you can be sure of their superior flavor.

Did We Mention That We LOVE Tomatoes?

Here at Pastene, we take every step possible to bring you the best, freshest canned tomatoes available. For generations, our tomatoes have been the trusted, flavorful “secret ingredient” that turns meals into memories. We obsess over things like harvest time because we know that it means we’ll once again be putting smiles on faces—and that alone is why we do what we do. 

What’s your favorite Pastene tomato, and how do you use it? Have any stories you’d like to share about how your family uses our tomatoes? Tag us @pasteneusa or use #MyPastene on Instagram to let us know!


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