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Best Italian Canned Tomatoes?

GJWhite Dec 14, 2006 03:06 PM

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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    paulgardner RE: GJWhite Dec 14, 2006 03:13 PM

    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
      Summerfield RE: paulgardner Dec 14, 2006 03:23 PM

      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
        candaceNYC RE: Summerfield Apr 16, 2010 09:20 AM

        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
          westsidegal RE: candaceNYC Oct 31, 2013 08:43 PM

          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
        josh L RE: paulgardner Dec 14, 2006 04:47 PM

        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
          micki RE: josh L Dec 14, 2006 05:28 PM

          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
            Lipant RE: josh L Dec 15, 2006 02:27 AM

            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: josh L
              dimples RE: josh L Dec 18, 2006 03:21 AM

              Where is Coluccio & Sons?

              1. re: dimples
                clarkJJ RE: dimples Jan 28, 2011 02:30 PM

                1214 60th St
                Brooklyn, NY 11219

            2. re: paulgardner
              Norm Man RE: paulgardner Dec 28, 2006 11:35 PM

              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
                notmartha RE: Norm Man Dec 29, 2006 04:14 PM

                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
                  Marianna215 RE: Norm Man Feb 25, 2007 05:32 PM

                  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
                  DawneeBabe RE: paulgardner Jan 19, 2011 08:14 PM

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

                3. r
                  rootlesscosmo RE: GJWhite Dec 14, 2006 03:13 PM

                  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
                    Infomaniac RE: rootlesscosmo Dec 14, 2006 03:23 PM

                    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
                      HaagenDazs RE: rootlesscosmo Dec 15, 2006 02:03 PM

                      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
                        Puffin3 RE: rootlesscosmo Feb 21, 2014 08:23 AM

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

                      2. Karl S RE: GJWhite Dec 14, 2006 03:17 PM

                        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
                          fara RE: Karl S Dec 16, 2006 05:44 PM

                          "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
                            coll RE: fara Dec 16, 2006 07:49 PM

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

                            1. re: fara
                              Karl S RE: fara Dec 16, 2006 09:57 PM

                              Not uniformly in my experience. De gustibus...

                              1. re: fara
                                ben61820 RE: fara Feb 19, 2007 07:21 AM

                                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
                                  MakingSense RE: ben61820 Feb 19, 2007 12:49 PM

                                  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. CindyJ RE: GJWhite Dec 14, 2006 03:30 PM

                              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
                                Divamac RE: CindyJ Dec 29, 2006 03:54 AM

                                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
                                  fabian3dg RE: Divamac Aug 16, 2009 11:08 PM

                                  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
                                  swmoore53 RE: CindyJ Nov 24, 2011 09:49 PM

                                  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
                                    CindyJ RE: swmoore53 Nov 25, 2011 06:07 AM

                                    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. C. Hamster RE: GJWhite Dec 14, 2006 03:44 PM

                                  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. l
                                    Louise RE: GJWhite Dec 14, 2006 03:47 PM

                                    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
                                      DGresh RE: Louise Dec 14, 2006 03:51 PM

                                      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
                                        Louise RE: DGresh Dec 14, 2006 03:55 PM

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

                                        1. re: Louise
                                          DGresh RE: Louise Dec 14, 2006 03:58 PM

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

                                      2. re: Louise
                                        Infomaniac RE: Louise Dec 14, 2006 03:53 PM

                                        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. kare_raisu RE: GJWhite Dec 14, 2006 03:54 PM

                                        What is the word on the boxed Pomi?

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: kare_raisu
                                          Infomaniac RE: kare_raisu Dec 14, 2006 03:59 PM

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

                                          1. re: Infomaniac
                                            gini RE: Infomaniac Dec 14, 2006 05:51 PM

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

                                            1. re: gini
                                              Marge RE: gini Dec 14, 2006 05:55 PM

                                              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
                                                mangiatore RE: Marge Feb 27, 2007 09:39 AM

                                                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
                                            hoyabird8 RE: kare_raisu Mar 31, 2009 04:35 PM

                                            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. o
                                            obob96 RE: GJWhite Dec 14, 2006 03:58 PM

                                            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
                                              ishmael RE: obob96 Dec 15, 2006 02:28 AM

                                              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
                                                Chester Eleganté RE: ishmael Dec 15, 2006 06:06 AM

                                                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
                                                  ishmael RE: Chester Eleganté Dec 15, 2006 12:25 PM

                                                  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
                                                  TongoRad RE: ishmael Dec 15, 2006 02:59 PM

                                                  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
                                                  godenich RE: obob96 Apr 14, 2007 05:48 PM

                                                  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. s
                                                  SarahEats RE: GJWhite Dec 14, 2006 04:13 PM

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

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: SarahEats
                                                    Kagey RE: SarahEats Dec 14, 2006 04:33 PM

                                                    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
                                                      dtremit RE: SarahEats Dec 16, 2006 07:02 AM

                                                      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. re: SarahEats
                                                        sktrmn45cma RE: SarahEats Jan 17, 2008 12:12 PM

                                                        RedPack is only on the East Coast!

                                                      2. m
                                                        MikeG RE: GJWhite Dec 14, 2006 04:40 PM

                                                        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
                                                          coll RE: MikeG Dec 15, 2006 10:37 AM

                                                          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. The Engineer RE: GJWhite Dec 14, 2006 06:05 PM

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

                                                          1. d
                                                            djk RE: GJWhite Dec 14, 2006 06:30 PM

                                                            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. c
                                                              ClaireWalter RE: GJWhite Dec 15, 2006 12:32 PM

                                                              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. g
                                                                GJWhite RE: GJWhite Dec 15, 2006 02:31 PM

                                                                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. SanseiDesigns RE: GJWhite Dec 16, 2006 06:49 AM

                                                                  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
                                                                    sktrmn45cma RE: SanseiDesigns Jan 17, 2008 12:02 PM

                                                                    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. f
                                                                    fara RE: GJWhite Dec 16, 2006 05:46 PM

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

                                                                    1. g
                                                                      gordoma RE: GJWhite Dec 16, 2006 07:54 PM

                                                                      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
                                                                        coll RE: gordoma Dec 16, 2006 08:16 PM

                                                                        Nina's very poplular with pizzarias around here.

                                                                        1. re: gordoma
                                                                          Keekee RE: gordoma Feb 16, 2007 06:38 AM

                                                                          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
                                                                            Paulie Gee RE: gordoma Jul 17, 2008 12:28 PM


                                                                            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
                                                                              Paulie Gee RE: Paulie Gee Apr 26, 2010 12:44 PM

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

                                                                          2. bengoshi RE: GJWhite Dec 16, 2006 11:32 PM

                                                                            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. g
                                                                              GJWhite RE: GJWhite Dec 17, 2006 03:13 AM

                                                                              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. c
                                                                                cap RE: GJWhite Dec 18, 2006 03:18 AM

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

                                                                                1. b
                                                                                  BellaDonna RE: GJWhite Dec 28, 2006 03:09 AM

                                                                                  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. f
                                                                                    FAL RE: GJWhite Dec 28, 2006 11:09 AM

                                                                                    La Bella San Marzano, Nina's.

                                                                                    1. wittlejosh RE: GJWhite Dec 28, 2006 11:23 AM

                                                                                      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
                                                                                        bnemes3343 RE: wittlejosh Jan 17, 2008 12:06 PM

                                                                                        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
                                                                                          MakingSense RE: bnemes3343 Aug 17, 2009 10:12 AM

                                                                                          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
                                                                                          tokimoki RE: wittlejosh Aug 16, 2009 10:39 PM

                                                                                          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. g
                                                                                          GJWhite RE: GJWhite Dec 28, 2006 01:35 PM

                                                                                          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. wittlejosh RE: GJWhite Dec 28, 2006 02:42 PM

                                                                                            Must be the calcium chloride.

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

                                                                                            1. c
                                                                                              CookingGirl RE: GJWhite Dec 28, 2006 06:26 PM

                                                                                              I like Pastene Kitchen Ready, chunky or regular.

                                                                                              1. pikawicca RE: GJWhite Dec 29, 2006 01:01 PM

                                                                                                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
                                                                                                  coll RE: pikawicca Dec 29, 2006 04:56 PM

                                                                                                  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
                                                                                                    Densible RE: pikawicca Apr 15, 2007 06:24 PM

                                                                                                    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. r
                                                                                                    racky RE: GJWhite Jan 3, 2007 12:12 AM

                                                                                                    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. f
                                                                                                      Filippo RE: GJWhite Feb 11, 2007 09:45 AM

                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                        coll RE: Filippo Feb 17, 2007 03:59 AM

                                                                                                        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
                                                                                                          Filippo RE: coll Feb 25, 2007 04:18 PM

                                                                                                          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
                                                                                                            coll RE: Filippo Feb 26, 2007 03:58 AM

                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                            leschoses RE: coll Jul 31, 2010 05:03 AM

                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                              coll RE: leschoses Jul 31, 2010 07:49 AM

                                                                                                              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. f
                                                                                                          faijay RE: GJWhite Feb 17, 2007 04:21 AM

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

                                                                                                          1. sashimi73 RE: GJWhite Feb 18, 2007 03:43 AM

                                                                                                            I use Pastene. I hate Muir Glen.

                                                                                                            1. b
                                                                                                              bogie RE: GJWhite Feb 19, 2007 06:59 AM

                                                                                                              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. jpr54_1 RE: GJWhite Feb 25, 2007 10:22 AM

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

                                                                                                                1. Gio RE: GJWhite Feb 26, 2007 04:51 AM

                                                                                                                  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. n
                                                                                                                    norad RE: GJWhite Jan 17, 2008 12:08 PM

                                                                                                                    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. b
                                                                                                                      brianllieberman RE: GJWhite May 4, 2009 06:45 PM

                                                                                                                      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.

                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: brianllieberman
                                                                                                                        mrfastforward RE: brianllieberman Aug 19, 2009 03:30 PM

                                                                                                                        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
                                                                                                                          avanti5010 RE: brianllieberman Feb 17, 2010 12:58 PM

                                                                                                                          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. e
                                                                                                                          erikalwong RE: GJWhite Oct 29, 2009 02:02 PM

                                                                                                                          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. m
                                                                                                                            metal1 RE: GJWhite Dec 4, 2009 10:14 PM

                                                                                                                            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.

                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: metal1
                                                                                                                              coll RE: metal1 Dec 5, 2009 01:43 AM

                                                                                                                              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
                                                                                                                                Karl S RE: metal1 Dec 5, 2009 02:05 AM

                                                                                                                                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
                                                                                                                                  coll RE: Karl S Dec 5, 2009 02:10 AM

                                                                                                                                  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
                                                                                                                                    leschoses RE: coll Jul 31, 2010 05:20 AM

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

                                                                                                                              2. r
                                                                                                                                runwestierun RE: GJWhite Feb 17, 2010 01:27 PM

                                                                                                                                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."

                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: runwestierun
                                                                                                                                  smkit RE: runwestierun Feb 18, 2010 10:22 AM

                                                                                                                                  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
                                                                                                                                    bob96 RE: smkit Feb 18, 2010 12:57 PM

                                                                                                                                    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. j
                                                                                                                                  JonasOftoronto RE: GJWhite Apr 18, 2010 07:23 AM

                                                                                                                                  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. grampart RE: GJWhite Apr 18, 2010 08:11 AM

                                                                                                                                    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
                                                                                                                                      jimyo RE: grampart Apr 19, 2010 09:42 AM

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

                                                                                                                                      1. re: jimyo
                                                                                                                                        grampart RE: jimyo Apr 19, 2010 11:27 AM

                                                                                                                                        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. p
                                                                                                                                      plano lou RE: GJWhite May 20, 2010 05:06 PM

                                                                                                                                      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. e
                                                                                                                                        eggiwegs RE: GJWhite Jun 16, 2012 09:57 AM

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

                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                        1. re: eggiwegs
                                                                                                                                          keithlb1 RE: eggiwegs Jun 16, 2012 11:34 AM

                                                                                                                                          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. Gio RE: GJWhite Oct 31, 2013 12:58 PM

                                                                                                                                          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. f
                                                                                                                                            flirtinfilly RE: GJWhite Nov 1, 2013 06:38 AM

                                                                                                                                            Pomi from Italy in the cardboard carton - fantastico!

                                                                                                                                            1. d
                                                                                                                                              dbiester RE: GJWhite Feb 21, 2014 06:36 AM

                                                                                                                                              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.


                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: dbiester
                                                                                                                                                Karl S RE: dbiester Feb 21, 2014 01:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                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
                                                                                                                                                  dbiester RE: Karl S Feb 24, 2014 05:59 AM

                                                                                                                                                  exactly --the quality in the can will vary

                                                                                                                                              2. r
                                                                                                                                                Raffles RE: GJWhite Feb 24, 2014 06:16 AM

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

                                                                                                                                                1. c
                                                                                                                                                  cronx42 RE: GJWhite Mar 6, 2014 11:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                  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.

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