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15 October 2020

Because Not All Tomatoes Are the Same

From a small region near Naples, Italy, straight to your dinner table

A quick search online will tell you that there are over 10,000 varieties of tomatoes. Some of the more well-known ones – Roma, Beefsteak, Grape, Cherry, and Heirloom – are staple ingredients in kitchens, cafes, and restaurants around the world. But one variety stands above the rest when it comes to cooking: renowned for their plump flesh, low acidity, sweetness, and versatility, San Marzano tomatoes sit atop the culinary throne.

The origins of the San Marzano tomato can be traced back to San Marzano sul Sarno – a small town in Italy about twenty-five miles southeast of Naples. Originally grown in the fertile, volcanic soils of Mount Vesuvius, the first seeds of the variety are fabled to have been received as a gift from the Viceroyalty of Peru to the Kingdom of Naples in 1770. And what a gift they are!

Cultivated in Italy between August and September, San Marzanos are hand-picked at the peak of their dark, ruby-red ripeness. Much like the grapes of some finer wines (think the Champagne region of France) or some specialty meats (think prosciutto from the Parma region of Italy), the growth and production of San Marzanos is governed by strict rules and regulations. Authentic San Marzanos will have an official DOP (Denominazione d’Origine Protetta or “Protected Designation of Origin”) notation on the can or jar, so you know you’re getting the real deal (see you later, Stan Marzino!). 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 the traditional way (vertical plants with fruit off the ground, harvested by hand in the Sarnese-Nocerino area).

All of Pastene’s San Marzano tomatoes are imported directly from Italy. Each can is individually numbered and authenticated by an official DOP notation, an agricultural foods certification, and an official seal of origin from the Sarnese-Nocerino area.

In its over two-hundred and fifty-year history, the San Marzano tomato has become one of the world’s most sought-after tomatoes for Michelin Star Chefs, Chefs de Cuisine, mothers, fathers, grandmothers, and kitchen creatives around the world. Their versatility makes them the number-one option for everything from the marinara sauce (no surprise, there) to seafood. They’re brilliant baked on top of a loaf of focaccia bread and even make a mean salsa. In short, if your recipe calls for tomatoes, you absolutely cannot go wrong in choosing San Marzano.

As the oldest tomato importer in America, Pastene pledges to you, our customers, that we will always offer the genuine article, produced and labeled in the approved manner. It’s quite simple: if you want to experience the rich flavor of the traditional San Marzano tomato, make sure it has the name “Pastene” on the front label.

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