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Best Italian Canned Tomatoes?

When talking about basic tomato sauce (as opposed to in a ragu or canned tomatoes and braised meats), what are some of your favorite brands of canned tomato? Right now I really like Pastene's whole canned tomatoes--anyone use a canned tomato from Italy? The "San Marzano" tomatoes from California seem bland to me. Any suggestions?

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  1. Cook's Illustrated rates Muir Glen as the best Canned Tomatoes, available on the East Coast at Whole Foods Supermarket.

    12 Replies
    1. re: paulgardner

      I saw the issue where Cook's rated Muir Glen the best. But then I think that there was a subsequent issue where they rated Progresso plum tomatoes in juice the best. Anyway, I've been using Progresso.

      1. re: Summerfield

        Yet, another reason I love Chow. There's an answer for my every question. I get my produce from Boston Organics, but I love online shopping and do Peapod for staples. FYI - Peapod/StopnShop has Muir Glen. Thanks for the tip!

        1. re: candaceNYC

          Muir Glen is owned by General Mills and can be found all over the place.
          of course, since General Mills spent many millions of dollars fighting for food companies to be able keep their GMO ingredients a secret, if non-GMO food is important to you, this may no longer be a good source

      2. re: paulgardner

        Coluccio brand San Marzano DOP are the best canned tomatoes on the market. You can get them in NY at Fairway and Coluccio & Sons in Brooklyn.

        1. re: josh L

          The Coluccio brand is my second favorite canned tomato.Have you ever tried Asti D.O.P. San Marzano tomatoes? I get them at the A&S Pork store in Oceanside and I buy them by the case. To my mind they are the best. Clean, clear, sweet. Pristine, delicious tomatoes.

          1. re: josh L

            I bought some San Marzano tomatoes and was a little surprised to find that they contained big stems and leaves of basil, although it was not labelled as such. Is this usual? I didn't like them at all.

            1. re: paulgardner

              I also like Muir Glen Glen Organiv Canned Tomatoes. I live in Los Angeles and recently fround 28 oz Muir Glen Canned Whole Tomatoes for only $0.99/can at 99 Cents Only Store.

              They also had 15 oz Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes for $0.99/2 cans.

              1. re: Norm Man

                I always get the Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes from TJs as well. Seems to be a good all purpose one.

                1. re: Norm Man

                  Cotsco has recently been offering 12 can flats of muir glen. It's a great way to stock up on tomatoes for a while.

                2. re: paulgardner

                  For me...Muir Glen Roasted Tomatoes is THE best I can find where I live.

                3. I like Muir Glen plum tomatoes. The can is lined with some neutral coating so the food doesn't react with the metal to produce off flavors, the tomatoes themselves are good quality, and the only liquid in the can is their juice.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: rootlesscosmo

                    I like Muir Glen plum tomatoes also. When I can't find Muir Glen, I'll look for another type of pealed plum tomato.

                    I recently tried a brand from Italy, Pomi, that came in a box, and had a nice flavor, and turn out a nice sauce.

                    1. re: rootlesscosmo

                      The Publix store brand (here in the southeast) has this coating as well, so it's nothing out of the ordinary for me. They aren't too bad if you ask me. I won't make a whole pot of sauce out of them, but I like to chop 'em and add them to my risotto.

                      1. re: rootlesscosmo

                        Virtually all canned food products now have 'lined' cans.
                        Not sure about 'asian' canned goods though.

                      2. Use what you like; canned tomatoes vary considerably by season in terms of the balance of acidity and fruitiness, so we all tend to kid ourselves that they are uniform (which explains why there is constant discussion about which brands have declined or improved, and how people suddenly discover they like a brand they formerly hated, or vice versa). And why taste tests by folks such as Cooks Illustrated vary over time. Growing tomatoes on a farm in Italy/California/New Jersey is just as much subject to seasonal variations of sun, water and care as your own garden. Some months are great, others are lousy, but tomatoes still get used.

                        The advantage of Glen Muir tomato products is that they come in lined cans, which means people whose palates notice the effect of can metal on tomato flavor can avoid that problem that is nearly universal in Italian canned tomatoes.

                        * * *

                        My local markets seem to have La Valle as their default DOC San Marzano brand, so I get those when I want them.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Karl S

                          "Growing tomatoes on a farm in Italy/California/New Jersey is just as much subject to seasonal variations of sun, water and care as your own garden. Some months are great, others are lousy, but tomatoes still get used."

                          That is not true. Imported Italian canned toamtoes taste consistently better than american canned tomatoes.

                          1. re: fara

                            But if they have a rainy summer in Europe, it does affect the quality (and price) a little.

                            1. re: fara

                              Not uniformly in my experience. De gustibus...

                              1. re: fara

                                yes, you are correct. the reason for the DOP san marzano's reign is that they all grow on the volcanic soils of the area. this produces the wonderful, intense flavor that many of us like. i cant find them at my local, so i go with the org muir glen i cant really decide yet. i mean, its good. but i think the marzanos really take the cake.
                                the soil is everything for veg. the weather, yes of course it matters, but really in the end the soil dictates everything about veg. this is why also things like soba noodles that are made of buckwheat solely grown in the volcanic soils of japan as opposed to those made of canadian buckwheat, etc are a very different animal.

                                1. re: ben61820

                                  As a gardener, who grows and cans my own Italian plum tomatoes, that volcanic soil story doesn't make much sense. It's inert. Plants draw nothing from it. Soil has to be constantly amended with organic matter to produce crops and tomatoes, in particular, have to be rotated. Generally you have to move a tomato bed every three years.
                                  The weather is everything. An unusually wet, cool or cloudy year and you're not going to get good tomatoes regardless of the quality of the soil. Plums produce over a long period. The first tomatoes might be perfect and then a period of spotty weather will produce poor quality from the same plants. Later, the plants may set better fruit. They can come and go over the course of a single season as the weather changes.
                                  It's not logical that there can be total consistency in tomatoes, can after can, year after year. DOP designation for some products is legitimate but in the case of a weather-dependent crop like tomatoes, it might be just a marketing ploy. There have to be better and worse "vintages."

                            2. I've tried many brands, and one that I keep coming back to is Tuttorosso. I find some of the canned San Marzano tomatoes too "sweet."

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: CindyJ

                                i agree about the Tuttorosso. My mom woud use nothing else for her fantastic tomato sauce. That was back in Philly, but I can't find them in California.

                                1. re: Divamac

                                  the tuttorosso tomatoe product are really good im not sure if it is the sauce or puree that has roasted peppers but that adds a new flavor to everything

                                2. re: CindyJ

                                  Back in the 80's and 90's, I always used Canned Progresso Peeled Italian Tomatoes w/Basil. Then they stopped selling these tomatoes in the area of which I live, but I believe it to be alot of the East Coast. And everyone including myself use to love the Spagetti Sauce I use to make. Since then, I have tried every kind on the market in the Maryland, South Central PA regions and I came across Tuttorosso a few years back, and I use it all the time now. And I agree, San Marzano tomatoes are to be to sweet.

                                  1. re: swmoore53

                                    Even though this thread began 5 years ago, my go-to brand for canned tomatoes for pasta sauce is STILL Tuttorosso (in the green can, not the blue one). I was introduced to Mutti brand tomatoes a couple of years ago, and that's become my brand of choice if I'm making a sauce for seafood.

                                3. The reason San Marzano tomatoes from the an Marzano region of Italy (DOC) are so good is the soil they grow in. San Marzano tomatoes grown elsewhere are a fraud, really.

                                  I have found Muir Glen to be a bit too acidic, but maybe that's just me.

                                  My market carries Pastene SM's but they really aren't that great.

                                  1. The kind I generally use I can't remember the name, however it has a lithograph of plum tomatoes around the outside like sugarplums. They aren't mushy and don't fall apart like some I've used. They aren't Muir Glen, but are Italian, from San Marzano. Hamster made a good point, San Marzano tomatoes are not just a variety, they are also from an agricultural region.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: Louise

                                      I believe those are the infamous "San Marzano" tomatoes that are actually grown in California. As I discovered after I bought them and then read the fine print. I figured, they cost twice as much as the other cans, they must be imported.

                                      see this for picture (and comments)


                                      1. re: DGresh

                                        Oh, S***, you're right. All that time I thought I was so clever and careful to always read labels.

                                        1. re: Louise

                                          well it's well-disguised. There's italian language all over the can, meant to confuse I think.

                                      2. re: Louise

                                        It could be a brand called La Valle whoses Plum Pear Tomatoes grown
                                        in the San Marzano Valley at the foot of Mt Vesuvio in Naples. The fertile volcanic soil gives the tomatoes a perfect balance of sugar and acidity.

                                      3. What is the word on the boxed Pomi?

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: kare_raisu

                                          I recently tried some boxed Pomi and liked it. Had a really nice fresh flavor to it.

                                          1. re: Infomaniac

                                            I love Pomi chopped tomatoes. They're an absolute staple in my pantry.

                                            1. re: gini

                                              I like Pomi chopped tomatoes also. What I really love about them is they are tomatoes, and nothing but tomatoes (no added salt, bay leaf, chemicals, etc...)

                                              1. re: Marge

                                                For what it's worth, Pomi is the standard in Italy. That doesn't mean it's the best, but it's what the average Italian mom buys at the market.

                                          2. re: kare_raisu

                                            Are we talking about Pomidori Pelati here? If so, I would like to express my displeasure with their product. I was taken in by their retro silk-screened label. Truly a nice design, but inside I was completely disappointed. First off, the tomatoes did not cook down at all, after 30 minutes (10 minutes more than I typically cook D.O.P. tomatoes), I could barely turn the hot sauce through my food mill. Even after this, it felt to my palate that the sauce was nothing but little chunks of raw tomato. The taste was bland . . . certainly none of the lively sweetness and light tomato flavor you get out of a good canned D.O.P. I had to add about twice the amount of salt and sugar that I normally do to get anything approaching an edible sauce. I won't be trying a domestic tomato again for a long time.

                                          3. The standard is San Marzano DOP (denominazione di origine protteta)--a specific plum tomato variety grown in the Nocera-Salerno area near Mt Vesuvius, packed in juice, not puree. Look for the DOP seal on the can. They're not cheap, but at their best (and there's considerable variability among brands) these have a light, fragrant, sweet-but-full acid flavor that cannot be matched and can be cooked into sauce in just minutes. There are a number of labels--Vanita, Sclafani, Cento, other regional brands, but look for the blue DOP seal and for tomatoes packed in juice only. There are other Italian products labelled "san marzano" which may or may not contain the san marzano variety and may come from Puglia or other regions; these are typically packed with pureee and can be quite good (Rienzi makes a reliable product) for ragus or longer-cooked sauces--Muir Glen's whole tomatoes, while not san marzano's, are also good for these sauces, too, if a bit sweet for my tastes.

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: obob96

                                              I use "Strianese" brand marked DOP but from Campagna ( Striano )packed in puree Very good balance of sweetness and acidity at a reasonable price. Easily available in Canada not sure about US.

                                              Love Pomi chopped tomatoes as well great for a quick Marinara or Puttanesca

                                              Muir Glen does not do anything for me-- too sweet and too expensive in Canada

                                              1. re: ishmael

                                                Is Strianese sold at many of the major grocery stores? I usually just pick up the Pastene San Marzanos up at Grande Cheese. Is it better than Pastene?

                                                1. re: Chester Eleganté

                                                  I usually get mine at Pasquale Bros on Goodrich in Etobicoke. I believe they are the importers so they can tell you who retails it. Although if you live nearby they also carry a phenomenal veariety of Italian, Spanish and French specialties that are hard to find elsewhere. Great selection of cheese and Italian cured meats. I recently picked up an outstanding Quebec Brie- the name escapes me now -at a very reasonable price.

                                                2. re: ishmael

                                                  My latest preference is to use different brands of tomatoes for different things. I love the Strianese as well, they're everything a canned tomato should be, but here in NY they are kind of pricey. My dad and I split cases that he gets from a restaurant supplier, but they're still almost $4/can at that.

                                                  I save the DOPs for pasta sauces where the quality really matters, but for long-braised items where the tomatoes are one of many ingredients I'll go with the Redpacks that I can stock up on when they're on sale for under a buck a can. It's a good quality product for the price, and my food budget doesn't get blown sky high (at least not on tomatoes;) ).

                                                3. re: obob96

                                                  Interesting, I've been using LaFede plum tomatoes (from Canillo's out of Passaic, NJ) and have just bought a few cases of their DOP brand with the DOP on the tomatoes and the 3 little vertical seals on the side. The label says they are packed in San Marzano plum tomato puree with basil. We're cooking up a batch tonite and we'll try tomorrow. I've tried Progresso, Red Pack (not tuturosso), Nina, pastene, but have yet to try some of the others like La Valle, Striano, Rienzi and Collucio. The tomato I was most fond of, to date, had the "Tana" label which I cannot find anymore and I have no idea whether it was DOP or not. I bought it back before the italian-style tomatoes became so popular in the late 80's and/or early 90's. This is a very informative board where I have learned about DOP, the tinny taste which now I know where it comes from and a host of other brands that I can try. We do occasionally grow our own San Marzano's from seed and they are quite acceptable, but lack something. I read up a bit about the volcanic ash produced from the magma and the high nutrient content, but there was something mentioned about the volcanic ash, itself, that allowed the right amount and variety of nutrients to get sucked up by the plants, as well as the myriad of other things like, wind, sun, rain, temp, wind, altitude, etc. I'm planning to move from a NJ condo to a Vermont homestead and I hope to be putting in a small greenhouse, of sorts, and plan to see if I can replicate the conditions. If nothing else, it will give me an excuse to visit italy to collect soil and go figure. Everyone's pallet is different and I have definitely experienced batches of tomatoes from the same processor that varied in taste over the years. I try to buy tomatoes in the #10 paint-size cans because there are less cans to open and now I may also be cutting back on the amount of tinny taste, perhaps, perhaps not.

                                                4. My favorite is Red Pack, but I don't know how wide their distribution is.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: SarahEats

                                                    My grandmother always used Redpack. I like them because they taste good and their crushed tomatoes really are crushed--not pureed. Now that I'm in the UK I'm glad to have found Cirio tomatoes, which are what my friends and relatives in Italy use.

                                                    1. re: SarahEats

                                                      I can't really remember enough to comment on the tomatoes, but Redpack is made by the same folks as Red Gold in the Midwest. They also make Tuttorosso.

                                                      I'm personally another fan of Muir Glen, and particularly of their fire roasted tomatoes. They're brilliant in a lot of pasta sauces. Plus I can usually find 28oz cans for $2-$2.50 at local markets.

                                                      1. Redpack used to be a "gold standard" (in the Northeast, that I was personally aware of), but it really hasn't been for a while now (IMO of course.) If you've continued to use them out of habit/on faith, do yourself a favor and try some of what's around these days, you may kick yourself for not doing it sooner.

                                                        For sauce uses, I'm a big fan of the regular LaValle "San Marzano type", I don't think their DOP version is worth the extra money. Coluccio distributes an excellent DOP San Marzana, but the taste difference isn't huge and they're awfully expensive for everyday use. I tried a dozen or so brands about a year ago and there wasn't much contest, except among a few "at the top."

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: MikeG

                                                          I totally agree with you on Red Pack AND especially on La Valle, I would never use anythng else for sauce. (Their pasta is very good too) Buy a can of each and open and taste side by side, Red Pack hardly tastes like tomatoes when compared to a good brand!

                                                        2. KarlS is absolutly right, above. I like La Fede though... ;)

                                                          1. La Valle. several italian chefs working in nyc turned me onto them awhile back. there are others that are close enough if you don't want to pony up but these are the real deal.

                                                            1. IMHO, Pomi is excellent, as is Muir Glen, which is a Whole Foods house branch nationally, not just in the East. Since canned tomatoes are combined w/ other flavoful ingredients in many recipes, I will buy the "no added salt" version of almost any brand if I need canned tomatoes.

                                                              1. Lots of good suggestions, and some I've never heard of (for instance, I did not know that the DOCG system was applied to produce as well).

                                                                I like Glen Muir for the most part, but was never blown away. Then there are the tomatoes found on sites like gustiamo.com ($20 for 1 lb., $10 for 28oz.) which, while tempting, just seem...

                                                                My grandma's sauce was made from who knows what can of tomato (never whole or crushed, just sauce) and still ranks as my favorite.

                                                                On another side note of favorites, the tomato sauce "emulsified with olive oil" that is used at Babbo to top the pasta pyramids is kind of outrageous.

                                                                1. Basically, the Italian canned/boxed tomatoes (i.e. the products that were grown and produced in Italy - the imports) are going to have more flavour than their named wanna bees from the US. Why? Because the fruit is left on the vine to fully ripen, thus, the natural sugar levels and maturity of flavour are naturally inherent in the preserved product. What you are getting in the American grown products are the want-it-now results of mass produced, get-it-to market products that look good, but lack the natural richness that time, sun and mother nature provide. The Pomi and real San Marzano seem to be the most readily available products across the US.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: SanseiDesigns

                                                                    Actually SanseiDesigns you are completely wrong. The tomatoes grown in the U.S. are fully ripened as well and are not "wanna bees". In fact the Italian San Marzano tomato is a completely different variety than the U.S. Roma tomato. San Marzano tomatoes are less acidic and may contain more sugar, but in the end it all has to do with the tomato variety, not time, sun, or mother nature (but time from being picked to the time it is actually sealed in the can will play a role in the amount of sugars preserved, once a tomato is picked the sugars start breaking down to starches). I've had bad tomatoes that were terrible from Italy and the U.S., the quality of the tomato is dependent on what manufacturer your dealing with.

                                                                  2. Pomi. 1) the tomatoes are better 2) the packaging maintains the flavor better than a can.

                                                                    1. I'm probably going to get some lack for this, but the best canned tomatoes I have ever encountered are the Nina brand from Costco. $3 for 6lbs. Initially, I went looking for the very best out there. I tried the Nina, becuase for $3, there wasn't much to risk. I was shocked. I tried several San Marzano DOP origin brands and others. I even did a blind tasting with some foodie/chef friends of both the raw tomatoes and cooked. Everyone preferred the favor of the Nina every time.

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: gordoma

                                                                        Nina's very poplular with pizzarias around here.

                                                                        1. re: gordoma

                                                                          I agree with you on the Nina brand from Costco , They are very good . I use them for sauce and chili...great tomatoes....

                                                                          1. re: gordoma


                                                                            No flack from me. I did an extensive taste test as well and they can't be beat. Perhaps we should keep the secret under our hat.


                                                                            Paulie Gee

                                                                            1. re: Paulie Gee

                                                                              In case anyone is wondering, the Ninas are not the "secretly sourced" tomatoes you may have heard me refer to recently.

                                                                          2. Having a a Grandmother from the foot of Mount Vesuvius, I agree with whoever warned against domestic tomatoes. Go Italian.

                                                                            Although, while I used to be a San Marzano DOP snob, I recently discovered Organic Tomatoes from _Tuscany_, which you can find in the "Organic" section of Shaws, Whole Paycheck, and similar places.

                                                                            I'm no organic freak, but once I discovered these, I wont use anything else. They turn to Pasta sauce in an instant. You can read all about why these are so great here:


                                                                            1. I was at my produce market today (owned and operated by an Italian family) and decided to check out their canned tomato selection. I bought two different brands one being La Fede (the other being Vanita). I made a quick sauce using one of the Fede cans---wow. Right from the start I could tell they were quality from the feel---really soft, but substantial. Normally I don't use onion, but I decided to add a little today along with the garlic and pepperoncino. Man it was good. A little more expensive than Vanita (3.30 compared to 1.50 for V) but well worth it. Very pleased.

                                                                              1. I use Famoso brand San Marzano tomatoes. Rich sweet tomatoes that are easily hand crushable.

                                                                                1. I can't believe those that prefer Muir Glen...Gia Russa has these excellent San Marzo tomatoes that beats Muir Glen; however, they are very difficult to find.

                                                                                  1. La Bella San Marzano, Nina's.

                                                                                    1. My controversial opinion: Those who think Italian canned tomatoes rule are kidding themselves, swept up by the romance of it all.

                                                                                      Most Italian canned tomatoes are packed in cooked puree, which mutes the taste of the tomatoes in the can. Most domestic ones are just packed in juice. If you can find Italian canned tomatoes that buck tradition and come packed in juice (there are a few these days—read the label), then maybe. But otherwise, Progresso or Muir Glen will taste better every time.

                                                                                      Try a blind taste test.

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: wittlejosh

                                                                                        wittlejosh is correct. Look at the ingredient list and you will see puree (cooked) on the Italian brands. This was explained on another post as a result of tarrif laws that consider the product in puree a sauce rather than a vegetable (and hence not subject to the high tarrif). Brands packed in just plan juice will taste better. I assume that the Italian canned tomatoes actually sold in Italy are also packed in juice.

                                                                                        1. re: bnemes3343

                                                                                          That sauce vs. veggie info is outdated.
                                                                                          This 2003 report from the Agricultural Resource Marketing Center http://www.agmrc.org/agmrc/commodity/... says that the US has standard tariff rates "for imports from nations with which the United States maintains normal trade relations. Such tariffs are normally applied to all trading partners except those whose normal tariff status has been suspended by specific legislation...The U.S. tariff on tomato ketchup imports is 6 percent. Imports of other tomato sauces and prepared or preserved tomatoes are charged a tariff of 11.6 percent."
                                                                                          NO distinction is made among various tomato products, whether they are packed in juice, purée etc.

                                                                                          If you count the number of whole tomatoes in a can of those packed in juice, you may find that there are more whole tomatoes than there are in a can packed in puree. I usually do.
                                                                                          I find that they also seem to taste better as you do.
                                                                                          An EU journalist told me (and this is purely hearsay) that packing in puree is a way around the DOP requirement for the tomatoes to be "grown in" that region. They ARE but they can be "packed in" puree from other regions and even from other countries.
                                                                                          I have found DOP tomatoes packed in juice but they were significantly more expensive than those packed in puree.

                                                                                          If you have ever canned your own tomatoes, you know that the juice comes from the tomatoes themselves. One simply jams tomatoes into the jar without adding any liquid. The juice is "made" when the jars are heated in the canning process.

                                                                                        2. re: wittlejosh

                                                                                          My husband and I tried a side by side test with Cento's DOP San Marzano tomatoes vs Cento's Italian Style tomatoes. We gave both sauces the same treatment but strange enough, from the moment we opened the cans, the non-DOP version had the fresher brighter smell and eventually the taste.

                                                                                          Until now, I thought, maybe the DOP brand was on the shelf a little too long because it was twice as more expensive but after reading this post, maybe the puree had been cooked and sorta ruined the taste? I really don't know. Anyway, with Cento brand, we definitely prefer the non-DOP version.

                                                                                        3. I think the main thing that the Italian varieties have that the American ones don't is texture, or should I say a lack thereof. The Italian tomatoes, especially La Fede or Vanita, seem to melt in your hand when crushed. A lot of the American tomatoes (not all mind you) seem a little firmer out of the can.

                                                                                          1. Must be the calcium chloride.

                                                                                            I guess I prefer the more substantial texture for the applications in which I use them.

                                                                                            1. I like Pastene Kitchen Ready, chunky or regular.

                                                                                              1. If you can find them, try Academia Barilla Pomodori Pelati (peeled cherry tomatoes) imported from Italy. They have an incredible intensity of tomato flavor. I use them always in place of canned plum tomatoes, even though they are quite expensive.

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                  I like to use these for things that call for just a little tomato, they just melt in the pan. I've found other brands of canned Italinan cherry tomatoes which were half the price, but then realized they still had the peels on, no comparison.

                                                                                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                    I LOVE these too! I just found them again by accident in a little Italian deli. They only had two cans and i was making a big sauce, so I bought some fresh 'sugar plam" tomatoes from Trader Joes, split them in half and roasted them with a little olive oil and a little salt for just a few minutes in a very hot oven. Also roasted a wholehead of garlic. Added it all together with more oil and fresh herbs, sprinkling of chili pepper and presto-fantastic sauce.

                                                                                                  2. I agree, Pastene is one of the very best canned tomatoes.
                                                                                                    La Fede is a good second choice, but not as sweet and lite it has puree in it one ingredent i do not like. Good olive oil, garlic, fresh basil, salt and pepper, cook for 20 minutes and you have perfection.(I like to put the tomatoes through a folly mill like grandma did)

                                                                                                    1. If you want a stop notch marinara sauce, you are kidding yourself if you do not use an authentic, D.O.P. registered and numbered San Marzano tomato from the Sarnese-Nocerino area around naples. After much experimentation, I find the best are Asti, Vantia, Rega, Coluccio and AnnaLisa. Since all these varieties are available in non -D.O.P. as well as D.O.P. it is important to be sure you are buying D.O.P. I rate Asti #1. They are consistently bright red (ripe) and sweet (due to ripeness). Fully ripe tomatoes break down very quickly and require a short cooking time (I cook my tomatoes no more than 12 - 14 minutes) thereby retaining a nice tomato taste.

                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Filippo

                                                                                                        Haven't you tried LaValle?? Food andWine just voted them the best, but more importantly they're the only ones I use myself.

                                                                                                        1. re: coll

                                                                                                          Actually I have used LaValled a number of times and they are excellent. I should have included them along with my other favorites. The ones I listed are the ones I have been using recently. I also recently bought a case of DeCecco (same people who make the great pasta) D.O.P. tomatoes. I have never seen them on the market before - must be new. They are packed in a lined can and are from the 2005 crop. Most others are still shipping the '04 crop. They are also excellent. I still rate Asti as my #1 pick for sauce. Tomatoes are like grapes...weather in the area will determine the quality of the crop. Will be interesting to see how the '05 compares to the '04 from the various producers.

                                                                                                          1. re: Filippo

                                                                                                            I see Asti all the time, so I will try a few cans. I buy my Lavalle in #10 cans to make big batches of sauce, but it's harder to find the small cans for everyday. I've bought other Asti products, but I'm not sure if I've tried their tomatoes.

                                                                                                          2. re: coll

                                                                                                            Just opened an unlined 1lb can of DOP La Valle pomodori pelati in puree. Junk. Three or four tomatoes. The rest was bland, stewed puree. My sauce was not very good and I was following a Hazan recipe.

                                                                                                            After reading this thread I opened a LINED 1lb can of DOP Collucio pomodori pelati in puree that I bought from Caputo's in Carroll Gardens. Much better. More flavor, with tomatoes up to the top of can.

                                                                                                            1. re: leschoses

                                                                                                              Very strange. I usually buy the 3 kilo cans but also have 28 oz cans on hand (never saw a 1 lb?) they are always chock full. LaValle is available DOP and not, but since you got DOP I am really surprised. My cans have always been full of perfectly ripe tomatoes, packed to the brim. Why don't you call them and see if there's an explanation?

                                                                                                        2. I prefer the GiGi, DOP tomatoes. They have been consistancly delicious for me with just the right balance of acid and sweet.

                                                                                                          1. I use Pastene. I hate Muir Glen.

                                                                                                            1. In restaurants, one of the most popular canned tomato products is Stanislaus 74-40 tomato filets.

                                                                                                              These are great-tasting tomatoes, the fillets have what I consider the perfect meat/liquid ratio for saucemaking, and they are very inexpensive in #10 can.

                                                                                                              1. I usually buy my canned tomatoes at Jerry's in Englewood, Nj or at Whole Foods

                                                                                                                1. My entire extended family, for 3 generations, has used nothing but Pastene "Kitchen Ready" canned tomatoes.....for a simple Marinara to a complex Bolognese.

                                                                                                                  1. I know the question was about canned tomatoes, but there's a variety of plum tomato by the same name. If you can get some at a nursery or grower's market and tend your own, they're great. Stew and use or freeze.

                                                                                                                    1. The truth is the San Marzano tomato is now over produced and isnt what it was 10-15 years ago. I recently found the greatest tomato I have used out of a can in a very long while. They grow here in Modesto California and are produces by a company called Stanlisaus. The sub product is "Alta Cucina" . I was blown away because of all this hooplah about San Marzano and these were grown right here in the states. Problem is they aren't sold in stores. Only restaurants can buy them through some ditsributors. Its kind of like car wash places buy commercial car cleaning products we cant buy at advanced auto parts stores. something for the industry only type deal. So if you can get your hands on a can try and write back.

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                                                                                                                      1. re: brianllieberman

                                                                                                                        Muir Glen is owned by General Mills. This may come as a shock to many of you, but I feel compelled to clarify for health reasons.
                                                                                                                        For those who prefer the 'lined' cans to avoid the tinny taste. Bare in mind that those linings may contain harmful chemicals eg: Muir Glen tomatoes line their cans with what they call "white enamel-lined cans". In fact Muir Glen and other manufacturers DO line their cans with bisphenol-A (a.k.a. BPA) . Studies have linked BPA to brain damage, immune deficiencies, behavioral issues and metabolic abnormalities.
                                                                                                                        You should Google BPA to find out more information if you care.
                                                                                                                        Meanwhile here are a couple of very well informed links

                                                                                                                        1. re: brianllieberman

                                                                                                                          I found a restaurant tomato sauce in AZ that is great. I found they use Stanislaus "7-11" brand that is only available to restaurants. You can buy the "Alta Cucina" brand which are also by Stanislaus at a site called: Sciabica.com in CA. They will ship to you.
                                                                                                                          I think the "7-11" is better since they grind the tomatoes with their skins on and that gives the sauce a great fresh tomato taste.

                                                                                                                        2. Try Bella Terra from Racconto brand. No calcium chloride or citric acid. I think they're great and yes they are the San Marzano type

                                                                                                                          1. How can anybody praise Muir Glen Tomatoes? I used a can for the first time today and very disappointed. They look good, but man they should be labeled Tomatoes packed in lots and lots of citric acid. The level of citric acid is so high - my teeth can still feel the acidity two hours after dinner.

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                                                                                                                            1. re: metal1

                                                                                                                              I feel the same, everybody here raves about them so I bought a can, some of the worst canned tomatoes I ever tasted. You could barely taste the tomato.

                                                                                                                              1. re: metal1

                                                                                                                                Tomatoes, even canned, vary in quality according to the season, no matter the brand. People like to stick to brands, because there's too much work to re-evaluate regularly. Certainly, the method of preparation of certain brands will make them stand out in quality, but even so, normal natural variation is a larger factor than most people seem to realize.

                                                                                                                                I've switched to POMI: just tomatoes, nothing else.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                  Well if you wanted to, since they only can once a year you could throw an annual taste testing party. I always have Pomi on hand, otherwise stock up on DOP San Marzano for everyday cooking. But this is after opening cans of California and Italian side by side and tasting, so that is my preference. Maybe they should date them by year, like fine wines ;-) for people that are particular.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                    When do they can? How do you know if a can comes from a certain year?

                                                                                                                              2. My favorite brand is Cento. To get the DOP, I have to drive 100 miles. However, my local market carries Cento brand tomatoes, not marked DOP. Awhile ago I emailed Cento to ask if these were also San Marzano tomatoes, because they tasted like it. Here is their reply:

                                                                                                                                "Our imported Italian tomatoes are San Marzano. Cento 35 oz. Italian Peeled Tomatoes and Cento 28 oz. San Marzano D.O.P. Certified are both San Marzano. You will find that the 28 oz. D.O.P. Certified are more costly than the 35 oz. tomatoes. While they are both varieties are from the San Marzano region, the 28 oz. D.O.P. certified simply guarantees the point of origin and that the tomatoes were grown in compliance with Italian laws. A certification fee is factored in to the cost of the D.O.P. certified."

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                                                                                                                                1. re: runwestierun

                                                                                                                                  I remember some time back on America's Test Kitchen that imported canned tomatoes usually performed worse in taste tests (according to ATC). The reason was that they had 'sauce' added to the cans in order to get around import restrictions. Apparently, tomato sauce has a lower duty, so basically, they added tomato sauce to avoid this extra cost hit. Domestic brands didn't have to do this, so they had a fresher taste.

                                                                                                                                  Obviously, importers can pay the higher duty, but then this will be reflected in the price too. Maybe this is why some gourmet San Marzano brands cost more.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: smkit

                                                                                                                                    Whatever the reason, most brands pack DOP San Marzano and other Italian tomatoes
                                                                                                                                    in puree (not sauce). Although it's not an issue with long-simmered ragus, using the puree in a simple sauce can make the finished product muddier and sweeter, so many cooks pour it off for another use (say, stews). Look for cans packed with juice, not puree. As for ATC: frankly, I've never had a US canned tomato to compare with the bets of the San Marzanos, which (especially sans puree) manage to blend fruit, acid, and fragrance into an amazingly balanced and savory package.

                                                                                                                                2. Fantastic topic - and while I agree it's good to set aside the 'watery/seedy' part of whole packed tomatos, I generally find (for making sauce) the crushed style have far less water & produce a greater volume of thick sauce.

                                                                                                                                  For brands, there IS seasonal and year variability - Eden Organics were terrible last year, so I went back to Ontario's Best and Thomas' Utopia - now the Ontario's Best are not so hot, and I have to try ONE can of the Thomas' if I can get them.

                                                                                                                                  They key is not to over-buy, to complain/return if the tomatoes are very lean or flat-tasting... and to just accept that, if buying north American products, there is variability to deal with so don't assume the sauce will turn out great. before knowing that shipment is great. In fact I'd say try them, and then stock up the pantry on the brand/shipment you have found is good.

                                                                                                                                  Being at a current loss for good tomatoes, I will re-try the Muir Glen, the Thomas' Utopia, or the Italian ones mentioned (organic or not, italy has a beautiful ripening climate.)

                                                                                                                                  1. Has anyone tried this brand made by Escalon of California? I'm only able to get Escalon's 6in1 brand which I use mostly for my pizza sauce. Very fresh taste and NO added citric acid in any of their products.

                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: grampart

                                                                                                                                      i just read about escalon in a pizza making forum. where can i buy these in southern california?

                                                                                                                                      1. re: jimyo

                                                                                                                                        I live in Georgia where I've been unable to find them so I order direct from Escalon. (6) 28oz. cans of the 6in1's for $16.50 (shipping included). If you go to their home page, down near the bottom on the left is a place to insert your zip code for contact info. Good luck, it's a wonderful product.

                                                                                                                                    2. Here in Texas, I find "Carmelina" brand diced tomatoes at Central Market (HEB's answer to Whole Foods to those of you who know). They are from Italy, come in a pull tab can, and are wonderful. When I need puree, they have a glass bottled puree that is fantastic (I use it to make Indian Paneer Makhani to rave reviews). And also then I avoid that horrible "CANNED" taste from some types of canned tomatoes.

                                                                                                                                      1. My vote to this point is Tuttorosso. Still young to cooking so trying differnet brands mentioned. Thanks.

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                                                                                                                                        1. re: eggiwegs

                                                                                                                                          Wegmans has their own DOP San Marzano tomatoes for less than Muir Glen and their store brands usually hold their own to most national brands for less price.

                                                                                                                                        2. Thread Update:
                                                                                                                                          "The 6 Best Brands of Canned Tomatoes" by Lynne Rossetto Kasper, host of The Splendid Table on MPR, and cookbook author. She and her producer recently conducted a new test of prominent supermarket brands...


                                                                                                                                          1. Pomi from Italy in the cardboard carton - fantastico!

                                                                                                                                            1. Times article supports likely variations theory and debunks San Marzano as a default. I have no doubt that when I buy San Marzano with a DOP label it tastes better, but I doubt if it were a blind test that the result would be the same. The mind is a powerful thing, and preconception is very strong.


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                                                                                                                                              1. re: dbiester

                                                                                                                                                Btw, the key fact in that piece: that Prisinzano tests a wide variety of brands TWICE a year. (Because tomatoes are a crop, and their quality varies according to the weather of the locations where they are grown. So canned tomatoes of any brand are going to vary in quality. Any quest for a best brand that will remain best over time is by definition chimerical.)

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                  exactly --the quality in the can will vary

                                                                                                                                              2. Whatever is on sale and does not contain calcium chloride or any other poly syllabic ingredients...

                                                                                                                                                1. Honestly i do not like muir glen, hunts, del monte or any of the mass marketed brands. the best tomatoes i have had, although they contain citric acid are tuttorosso crushed tomatoes with basil. they have no added sugar but are sweet, not bitter or too acidic.they taste very fresh, sweet, salty(although salt content is low) and all around rounded. they are hands down the best canned, jarred or boxed tomato product i have tried, i love pomi tomato and italian products for so many reasons. when u make a meal with tutorrosso tomatoes you will understand. no added sugar but such a sweet sauce. naturally. you will not be dissapointed. the best.