San Marzano tomatoes are a type of plum tomato, distinguished by their elongated shape. They are prized in Italy and across the world for their thick flesh and sweet flavour. The tomatoes also have a lower water content and fewer seeds than some others, which makes them a great choice for canning and using whole in rich tomato pasta and pizza sauces.
What are San Marzano tomatoes?
Also known as pomodori pelati (literally "peeled tomatoes"), San Marzano tomatoes are grown in a small area around Naples. The variety has been awarded a DOP by the EU, which specifies the precise cultivar, processing method and region in which the tomatoes can be grown.
Are San Marzano tomatoes the best?
These tomatoes have a huge reputation and boast a Protected Designation of Origin status (DOP, or sometimes written as PDO - Denominazione d'Origine Protetta) which specifies the precise cultivar, processing method and region in which the tomatoes can be grown. Many say that these specifications do indeed make San Marzano the best tomatoes you can buy.
In order to qualify as a San Marzano DOP, the tomato must be grown within a designated area around Naples. The DOP also refers to tinned, preserved tomatoes – not the fresh ones. The particularly fertile volcanic soil at the foot of Mt. Vesuvius is said to give the tomato plants even more flavour and nutrients.
Meanwhile, other tomatoes grown in similar conditions can boast the same rich tomatoey flavour but might not qualify for the San Marzano title. For instance, Paolo Petrilli makes fantastic organic sauces using tomatoes grown just 75km to the north-east of the DOP region.
How to cook with San Marzano tomatoes?
- These tomatoes make fantastic pasta and pizza sauces. The dense flesh gives these sauces a fantastic thick texture, with no excess water.
- Plus, think beyond classic pizza and pasta sauces, and use your tomatoes to make rich curry sauces,
- These flavour-packed tomatoes are also fantastic in Spanish seafood stews, flavoured with paprika.
- Or make the most of the intense tomato flavour and serve them in a refreshing and simple chilled gazpacho soup.
Exciting recipes using San Marzano tomatoes
Our pomodoro sauce uses San Marzano tomatoes. This variety is ideal for sauces, thanks to their dense flesh and fantastic fragrance. We’ve added garlic cloves for mellow sweetness, and salt to help enhance the natural sweetness of tomatoes.
Using a frying pan is a quick way to cook a crisp, puffy pizza in minutes! Here we’ve topped them with a simple San Marzano sauce.
Zuppa di cicerchie is a traditional hearty Italian soup made from cicerchie peas. Cicerchie – or cicerchia – is a type of pea. It tastes like a blend of chickpeas and peas, but with a creamier texture when cooked. Combined with the soup's rich San Marzano tomato base, it's perfect as a comforting winter meal.
Fall-apart meat, unctuous rich San Marzano sauce and a warming heat from the pepper for Cabernet – this ragu is extremely easy to make and will reward you with a steaming bowl of pasta.
What San Marzano tomatoes can I buy?
Also known as pomodori pelati (literally "peeled tomatoes"), you’ll find a tin of these long fleshy tomatoes in almost every kitchen across Italy. Although tinned tomatoes can sometimes be overlooked in the kitchen, if you choose a superior brand you’ll notice an immediate uplift in the flavour and depth of your everyday cooking. It’s certainly worth finding a brand you really love!
San Marzano tomatoes are grown in Agro Sarnese Nocerino, between Naples and Salerno. They have the San Marzano protected DOP, which means they boast the signature fleshy texture and vibrant red colour. These tomatoes are tinned in a velvety passata, for even more richness. Mutti process their tomatoes as quickly as possible, in order to retain the freshness and flavour of freshly picked fruit.
Italianavera's DOP San Marzano peeled tomatoes come in this stylish patterned tin, making them even more irresistible. Re-use the tin for your pencils, plants or whatever takes your fancy!