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Smoked Tomatoes?

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I saw smoked tomatoes on a cooking show a while ago (In case you're wondering: Tyler's Ultimate, Pizza Episode, on Food Network). I'm wondering if anybody has any tips about them.

They were in Naples using them to make pizza sauce. The tomatoes were bigger than cherries but smaller than romas. The whole tomatoes were bound together in huge clusters, much like a braid of garlic. The amazing thing though was that several months after being picked and smoked, they were still juicy inside: they were nothing like sundried tomatoes but rather like preserved, intact, fresh tomatoes.

I tried Googling for info, but all I seemed to come up with were recipes where the tomatoes were cut up, smoked, and eaten immediately. I'm interested instead in the possibility of preserving fresh tomatoes without canning.

Does anybody have any info about these? Some things I'm wondering:
- How are these in recipes, especially compared to either truly fresh or canned tomatoes?
- How can I make them myself?
- What types of tomatoes would be best for this technique?
- Where can I buy them if I choose not to make my own (in SF or mail order)?


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  1. I'm not sure of the product you speak of, but a short while ago at my sister's place, I had smoked, semi sundried tomatoes in olive oil as part of an antipasto dish before the main. Now, I'm not a big fan of sun dried tomatoes on most days, but I couldn't tear myself away from these!

    7 Replies
    1. re: Phil

      That sounds good, but no, it's not what I had in mind.

      I've tried several dozen Goggle searches and have found nothing. Somebody over on the FoodTV forum was asking the same question and go no response. There does not appear to be any information in all of cyberspace on smoke-preserved whole tomatoes.

      If anyone ever comes across information on these, please share. In a Southern Italian cookbook, perhaps? I'm dreaming of the possibility of having seemingly fresh, ripe, juicy, non-canned tomatoes long into the winter!

      Or perhaps Tyler Florence is just leading me on a wild goose chase.


      1. re: nja

        I am not sure if these are what you are looking for but I saw this on Food Tv's Food Finds.

        Link: http://www.boggycreekfarm.com

        1. re: nja

          Have you found any information on how to string the tomatoes? I really would like to try this next year? Everyone is right, it is almost impossible to find instructions on this. Any help will be greatly appreciated.


          1. re: denisekbar

            From looking at the video it appeared that the whole plant was pulled up with tomatoes attached and hung to smoke. I didn't want to sacrifice my plants since they were still producing heavily so I put the tomatoes themselves into a net bag and hung that. I think they would have done better laid in a single layer on a screen but room in my friend's smoker was at a premium.

            1. re: morwen

              Hope there will be regular updates....

              1. re: Shrinkrap

                The tomatoes are very tasty. They dehydrated a very little in the smoker so I put them in my dehydrator whole for a number of days. They did dehydrate a little more but never fully and I would have had to cut them open for that. They are extremely concentrated and sweet with a rich, smokey flavor. As I expected, I had to freeze them because they are no way near shelf stable.
                Next year I may experiment again more closely to what I've been able to glean for information. I *think* the tomatoes are hung to sun dry for several weeks and then go into the smoker for several weeks. That's a lot of wood chips and electricity for a small batch of tomatoes. I still haven't really determined if that smoking period is a hot or cold smoke. And I'm still pretty sure it won't result in a shelf stable product. But what I came away with this time merits another go.

      2. I don't know if you already found your answer, but I just saw that particular episode and had to look it up myself. Needless to say, I came up with very little, but I did find some info about the tomato on wikipedia:


        1. I know what your talking about! I just watched the show with tyler going to Italy and getting these smoked tomatoes in bunches. they used them to make a pizza. the smoked tomatoes I have found with my searches are sundried, the tomatoes we want are not, they are whole tomatoes tied together in a bunch, looks like red grapes except bigger. i want to find them too. help someone,

          1 Reply
          1. re: esteban

            I can't help you with the smoking part but the description you give of the tomatoes sounds like the Principe Borghese variety. It's an Italian heritage tomato that is larger than a cherry but smaller than a Roma and grows multiples on a trellis of 4-6 fruits. It's main use is sundrying. It has lots of meat and very little "snot". I have a dozen of them in my garden this year and they're loaded with fruit.

          2. I saw the same episode and became very curious myself. Please keep me in the loop if you have success finding more information from Tyler or the old Italian lady...
            I love the thought of eating smoke tomatoes, but would like some instructions how to do it first.

            1. I've been trying to find this episode online (I don't have cable TV) so I can get a look at these tomatoes. Could anybody post a link? I have lots of the type of tomatoes I think they used ripening and a friend who smokes pork weekly for a local restaurant who's willing to let me toss some into his smoker. I'd be happy to do a little experimentation for the cause.

              7 Replies
              1. re: morwen

                Here's a link Morwen if you're still keeping an eye on this thread.
                Personally, I think the whole video (along with part two) is worth watching, but if you don't have the time, the smoked tomato part starts at about the 8:50 minute mark.


                  1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                    Thanks....but why is that dog in a cage?

                    1. re: Shrinkrap

                      Maybe to keep it from eating those tomatoes that it looks like Tyler dropped on the ground as they were heading back to make the pie????

                    2. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                      From the very little info I could glean it seems like the tomatoes (and those look very much like the variety I was growing) are harvested and hung to dry for 2 months, then smoked for 2-3 months (Tyler gives each length of time in 2 different places). I've got to assume that this is a cold smoking given the length of time the tomatoes are in there. Sort of like smoking a cheese. Obviously the smoked tomatoes were then stored where there was plenty of air circulation in a shady spot but not at all in the dark. No mention of just how long they could be stored that way but I definitely wouldn't call them shelf stable. The smoking might slow down deterioration for some weeks but I bet they still would need to be used in a couple/few months time tops given their still plump condition.

                      Thanks for the link! I'd love to experiment with this but there's no way until I'm able to invest in or build my own smoker. Two months is a lot of time to commandeer my friend's smoker and he's smoking hot (the pork, not him....no offense Randy) anyway.

                        1. re: morwen

                          You're right.
                          Tyler's two descriptions of the process weren't worded very well.
                          My take on it (mostly because I can't see anyone smoking tomatoes for months) is that they are "lightly smoked" after drying (sun dried probably????) and the resulting product will then keep for months (hanging on the porch near the dog) .... maybe someone on CH lives near there and can go straight to the source to clear this matter up.

                    3. I also found the episode interesting in this detail especially. Here's hoping that we can shed some light on the how-to. As I recall from the description in the show, the smoking might have been slower and more gradual than the kind of smoking that we do here in the States with barbecue.

                      This will tempt me to plant some determinate varieties of tomatoes next year (which ripen all at once for purposes of canning or preserving). The variety in the show might well have been Roma style if the smoking could have the effect of reducing their size much. Would that happen, do you think?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Bada Bing

                        Searching for more information I found a recommended smoking time of 10-12 hours. They were doing Romas. I've got Principe Borghese growing which I think is closer to the type described by other posters. They look very much like the Piennolo variety pictured on some of the sites I checked. However, while I found much info about smoking said variety, I didn't find any info that said they remained juicy inside and could be kept on the shelf. Those that were shelf stable had been smoked and then completely dehydrated. Even then they were given a shelf life of 6 months with a rec to freeze them if keeping longer.

                        1. I smoke Julianas (a cherry tomato-sized Roma type) in my Cameron stove-top smoker, then either freeze or oven roast and freeze. I can't imagine that any tomato that's still juicy inside, smoked or not, will keep for very long. These are incredibly delicious, BTW.

                          1. Some Googling on the Principe Borghese variety yielded web pages saying that Italians often harvest them by tearing up the whole plant and hanging them upside down that way. I suppose some light smoking could also be applied to them then. It seems possible that the tomatoes might keep differently (and longer) when kept with much of the plant intact, just as some braided garlics do.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Bada Bing

                              Got some of the Principe Borghese into the smoker. Didn't have the heart to tear up the plants because there were still a lot of green ones coming on. So I put them in a netted bag into the smoker for around 12 hours. They did shrivel a good bit and some of them burst. Next time I'll prick the skins to reduce/eliminate the bursting. They were delicious with the smoke flavor penetrating through them but were in no way shelf stable as the OP described. They were "saucy" when cut open. I put some (whole) in the dehydrator and that definitely concentrated the flavor (with more of a paste texture) but I still wouldn't keep them on the shelf as the interiors were still too wet after 12 hours. Perhaps halved and dried completely they would be shelf stable but they would no longer have that juicy burst as originally described. I ended up freezing.

                            2. In earlier research I didn't really find without a doubt that the variety used was called "Piennolo" but was led to believe it was. In the Tyler Florence video, he states that the tomatoes are gathered into bundles called "piennolo". Tyler seems to be a wealth of misinformation regarding this tomato and smoking it.

                              I just found this link: http://www.practicallyedible.com/edib...
                              Piennolo Tomatoes
                              Principe Borghese Tomatoes range in size from that of a grape tomato to a small plum tomato, weighing 1 to 2 oz (30 to 60g), and will be up to 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) wide, with small points at their end. The tomatoes ripen to red. They have low moisture, few seeds, and a sweet taste. They grow in clusters of up to 10 tomatoes. Owing to the tomato's low moisture, it retains more of its flavour when dried, so is often used for producing sun-dried tomatoes. It is also good for paste. The plant needs staking. 65 to 80 days from seed, depending on location.
                              Also called: Lycopersicon esculentum Principe Borghese (Scientific Name); **Pomodoro Piennolo**, Pomodoro Principe Borghese (Italian). (Asterisks are mine.


                              When my seed order arrived last January the tomato seeds were sealed in a foil pouch printed in Italian. I've fallen in love with this variety over the summer. They are sweet and meaty, wonderful fresh and cooked in sauces, dried to a bright, sweet red, prolific and absolutely beautiful on the vine. They have been resistant to pests and diseases, although not to my husband's habit of picking one, wrapping it in a couple of basil leaves from the bushes growing below the vines, and popping it whole into his mouth! Although my 4 varieties of tomatoes peaked the first week of August, I'm still picking these little beauties daily. I'm really happy to have this part of the mystery solved and will definitely be growing them again next year.

                              Now if we could only solve the whole smoking thing....

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: morwen

                                On my list for next year! When you say "good fresh and cooked in sauces", I assume they are good dried or fresh cooked, but NOT so good raw.

                                1. re: Shrinkrap

                                  No, they're excellent raw! I really liked them for tomato salad because they have a bright flavor and little juice to dilute everything else. They also worked very well sliced raw on Margharita pizza. I had difficulty keeping my not-so-much-tomato-loving husband (he abhors tomato snot) from filling up on them while standing in front of the vines.

                                1. I just watched this video the other day about smoking foods and the lady says her technique can be used to smoke anything.
                                  Here is the link: http://www.chow.com/videos/show/chow-...

                                  1. Old thread but wondering if the OP or others have figured this out yet? I am doing some tomatoes on the BBQ now (smoking them at 250 degrees) but I guess I will eat them and freeze the rest. Would love to be able to preserve them in jars though. I have a dehydrator so I will try dehydrating a few too.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: ylsf

                                      I have not, but the time is right!

                                      1. re: Shrinkrap

                                        Happy to come across this thread and see that it has been revitalized as I too have been searching for information about this subject! My mother in law told me about this a few weeks ago and I did not believe her at all until I watched the video. I will learn how to do this if it kills me!!!! I did the standard web research and didn't find out much more than what has already been discussed. I am in agreement that the most obvious choice would be the Principe Borghese, but there are obviously others that would work. As for the smoking, it seems that the process is to smoke them very lightly, the reason being that the smoke is supposed to kill the bacteria on the surface of the tomato which is responsible for spoiling them, but not to really dehydrate them in any way. I am sure this does add a nice flavor, though. I know a man from Naples, who happens to own a restaurant in the paza in which I work, so I asked him about this. He scoffed at the notion of smoking, and said that his mother and grandmother used to hang them all the time when he was a boy growing up in Naples. I asked him if they used Principe Borghese, but it seems he had never heard of this variety, I think because he never had to search this out as we have been doing. He told me the name of the tomato was "cannellini". I thought I had misunderstood and because of the quizical look on my face he added, "you know, like the bean". He said you can't find them in this country, he gets his from Italy as he still has a house there and visits several times a year. I couldn't even find them on the internet! But he confirmed that they are indeed smaller than a plum, but larger than a cherry. He said he was growing them out back (behind the restaurant)!!! He said that you are supossed to pull up the whole tomato plant and twist the vines to make the pendula, and hang it somewhere with good circulation, not too close together where it tends to be cool and dark. I think there must be something to leaving them on the vines which also keeps them from rotting. I also need to clarify if any green tomatoes still on the vine go on to ripen, as I cant imagine waiting until they are all red. I believed the objective was just to pull the plant prior to the first frost, thereby salvaging what was left on the vine. It didn't look like the pendula in the Tyler Florence episode were on the vine, though, so I have to go back and look at that again, and question him about the exact method of "twisting" the vines. I am going to try to attach a link to a picture of a few of these tomatoes he gave me to try just this morning. They still need to ripen a little. I included the styrofoam cup in the picture to show proportion.