What's all the fuss about San Marzano Tomatoes? Aren't they just another Tomato, Can you tell me mor

Date: 13-Aug-2011 FAQ

The popularity of tomatoes in the Italian cuisine dates from the 1800s. The first recipe for pasta with tomato sauce appeared in Naples in 1839. Tomato experts suggest that the plum shape of the San Marzano tomato may have arisen as a mutation. Italian farmers regularly selected the best tomato fruits, then picked and dried their seeds. Slowly these hybrid seeds changed until we got the present cylindrical shape.

Round shaped tomatoes have between five and seven locules or seed pockets; where as plum tomatoes such as Roma and San Marzano have two. It has long been spoken that the first tomato used for the "peeled tomato" production was the tomato called the "San Marzano," formerly referred to as the "Long," due to the shape of the fruit. This elongated tomato was also likely the mutation or the hybridization between local types of tomatoes.

Grown in the region of San Marzano these tomatoes are grown in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvio in irrigated plains areas of volcanic origin. Both the physical-chemical characteristics of the volcanic materials as well as the presence of sufficient quantities of organic matter results in soil that is highly fertile.

The sugar and acid contents of the tomato fruit are two of the primary factors determining the flavour. The total amount of each and the ratio of sugar to acid are very important. If the ratio (percent sugar divided by percent acid) is too low, the fruit are sour and have an insipid flavour. An unnaturally sweet flavour is produced if the ratio is too high. The locular jelly is the most acid portion of the fruit and contains the lowest sugar content. The greater the percentage of locular jelly in the fruit, the lower the sugar/acid ratio will be.

San Marzano tomatoes and other tomatoes grown in this region typically have a "pH value" between 4.2 and 4.5. The lower acidity of tomatoes grown in the San Marzano area results in a taste that is pure, rich and so delicious there is no need to add additional sugar to homemade tomato sauce.

Because the tomato known as the "San Marzano" is delicate in nature and highly regarded, Italian farmers have taken extreme measures to protect the new hybrid seeds. They have formed a consortium that regulates the production and marketing of the San Marzano tomato. Due the additional administrative costs associated with running the consortium, tomatoes purchased with the Italian consortium's official seal are definitely more expensive than tomatoes grown in the same region but not under the auspices of the consortium.

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