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Best Canned Tomatoes

bxgirl Jan 31, 2007 10:09 AM

What do you think is the best brand of canned tomatoes? I like to make my own tomato sauce, and wonder what you consider the best barnd to use.
I know a lot of people like Muir Glen, and San Marzano, so are those the brands of choice? Also,any thoughts of Whole Foods brand (365)?

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  1. pitu RE: bxgirl Jan 31, 2007 10:28 AM

    those are my brands of choice...esp Muir Glen "fire roasted"
    never tried whole foods 365

    2 Replies
    1. re: pitu
      sivyaleah RE: pitu Jan 31, 2007 10:35 AM

      I prefer the Muir Glen fire roasted too.

      1. re: pitu
        lgss RE: pitu Dec 16, 2008 03:36 PM

        We use 365 regularly, and just get the Muir Glen "fire roasted" when they're on sale and we have a good coupon.

      2. ndl RE: bxgirl Jan 31, 2007 10:30 AM

        i really like muir glen, especially because you can get them totally plain -- without basil, which is in most italian brands. but i'd say san marzano's are the best actual tomatoes. all that said, i buy the 365's most often, cauce i'm a penny-pincher!

        the main difference between american and italian brands is the addition of citric acid in the american brands, including glen muir. i don't mind it but some do.

        1. C. Hamster RE: bxgirl Jan 31, 2007 10:34 AM

          San Marzano is not a brand of tomato, it's a type of tomato named after the region in Italy where they are grown.

          1. n
            Not Eating Out in New York RE: bxgirl Jan 31, 2007 10:36 AM

            San Marzano is a region, not brand, so there are lots of brands of tomatoes boasting the fact that they're San Marzano tomatoes--I agree these are best for sauces, they're distinctly brighter in color and make a thicker, bolder in flavor sauce.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Not Eating Out in New York
              mkel34 RE: Not Eating Out in New York Jan 31, 2007 10:42 AM

              San Marzano is also a brand although I believe they are grown and packed out of Cali.


              1. re: mkel34
                C. Hamster RE: mkel34 Jan 31, 2007 10:52 AM

                "San Marzano" denotes both a protected designation of origin and a variety of tomato. The very thing that makes them so special is the volcanic soil they are grown in in Italy. If not grown there, they aren't real San Marzanos.

                The California grown "San Marzano" tomatoes are, IMHO, a rip off and a fraud. The name is protected only in Europe which allows them to use it here and deceive people.

                Check out the customer reviews for the tomatoes in the link you posted.


                1. re: C. Hamster
                  mkel34 RE: C. Hamster Feb 1, 2007 03:42 AM

                  I didn't say that I use them or they were great, I just said that the brand existed.

                  1. re: C. Hamster
                    RicRios RE: C. Hamster Jul 12, 2007 08:59 PM

                    From one of the reviews in Amazon:

                    "After opening the can, I instantly saw that these can not be real San Marzano tomatoes - San Marzanos are long and thin and bittersweet (once you tried them, you will be able to tell), these are spherical and sweet and sour. "

                  2. re: mkel34
                    jwelder2 RE: mkel34 Apr 2, 2010 11:37 AM

                    In the fine print it says San Marzano "tyoe or style"

                2. MrBigTime RE: bxgirl Jan 31, 2007 10:52 AM

                  I like the Red Pack with jalepenos. They have just the right amount of spicyness.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: MrBigTime
                    desantmj RE: MrBigTime Jan 31, 2007 07:22 PM

                    Wow, I grew up on red pack, and I didn't even know that product existed. I'm gonna have to find/try it.

                  2. Candy RE: bxgirl Jan 31, 2007 10:54 AM

                    Muir Glen Fire Roasted and Red Gold will be found on my pantry shelf.

                    1. f
                      FlavoursGal RE: bxgirl Jan 31, 2007 11:10 AM

                      Here in Toronto, I adore a brand called Thomas Utopia. There is no bitterness in them at all, which I do find with Muir Glen tomatoes. And they're a lot more affordable because it's a Canadian company.

                      1. heidipie RE: bxgirl Jan 31, 2007 12:00 PM

                        Bella Terra Organic San Marzano whole tomatoes, imported from Italy. Bella Terra is the organic line from Racconto. Really so much better than any other I've used. They aren't always easy to find, but I buy a few cases whenever they appear at my local place. They aren't terribly expensive, either, I've found Really worth looking for. Here's their contact info: POB 1642, Melrose Park, IL 60160, or www.racconto.com.

                        1. p
                          peachblossom RE: bxgirl Jan 31, 2007 12:06 PM

                          I like Pomi. It isn't canned but it comes in a box.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: peachblossom
                            sivyaleah RE: peachblossom Jan 31, 2007 12:39 PM

                            Pomi always tastes kind of watery to me.

                          2. billjriv RE: bxgirl Jan 31, 2007 12:45 PM

                            My favorite are any 2 pound can for 79c or less.If im cooking for someone else id be particular.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: billjriv
                              polyhymnia RE: billjriv Jul 11, 2007 09:53 PM

                              oh man! right there with you. I am so cheap when it comes to canned tomatoes, because if I didn't grow and stew them myself, they're all the same to me! Let's hear it for Albertson't ten cans for ten dollars!

                            2. f
                              FlavoursGal RE: bxgirl Jan 31, 2007 12:49 PM

                              San Marzano tomatoes are not easy to find in Toronto. For anyone who's interested, I just picked up a couple of cans (Pastene, imported from Italy) at Lady York.

                              1. m
                                mattm RE: bxgirl Jan 31, 2007 12:53 PM

                                I like Cento canned tomatoes, but I'll have to try some of these other brands.

                                1. m
                                  MakingSense RE: bxgirl Jan 31, 2007 01:25 PM

                                  I can my own from the garden most years but I've been buying Cento when I need to purchase them. Hard to beat the price for the quality and I've tried about every other brand at every price. Cento is straight up, honest tomato flavor, solid packed, with a very firm texture. I don't want a roasted flavor for everything I cook.
                                  Cento tastes like tomatoes from a summer garden with the minimal amount of processing. Pretty much as though I had done it myself.

                                  1. o
                                    obob96 RE: bxgirl Jan 31, 2007 02:03 PM

                                    San Marzano DOP (protected) tomatoes in juice are available in NY under a numbe rof labels--Cento, Vanitia, Sclafani, etc,. and can be very variable, but when they're right, there is nothing to match them. They're a bit pricey; the same labels also offer other whole Italian plum tomatoes, usually packed in puree, that can also be fine for long-cooked ragus. FlavoursGal note about DOP San Marzano being hard to find in Toronto, home to more Italians than just about anywhere outside of Italy and New York, is interesting.

                                    1. Karl S RE: bxgirl Jan 31, 2007 05:48 PM

                                      Just be aware that the quality of canned tomatoes varies over time, by season, even within a brand. You will thereby discover that your favorite today might not be your favorite forever. A lot of people choose a favorite once and never reconsider it.

                                      1. rachaels RE: bxgirl Jan 31, 2007 06:35 PM

                                        I know what "San Marzano" tomato you're talking about. They have a pretty can with a drawn tomato and are always in the Williams-Sonoma catalog (for pictures, they don't sell them). Those tomatoes make me mad! As others have said those are not San Marzano tomatoes because they are from canada! Not that you can't like them obviously--they're just irresponsible in their marketing/name. I buy for a gourmet store and love, love, love di casa Barone pomodroini del "piennolo". They're ridiculous! They're not in heavy puree, just sealed in a glass jar in their juices. You'll die and go to heaven. You can get them from gustiamo.com. ALSO try "Il Miracolo di San Gennaro" a skin on San Marzano tomato that is also heaven. The skin is so tender you don't need to remove it. These two are exspensive but really worth it if you 1) can't get fresh or 2) don't can your own. As a side note I highly recommend canning your own. You'd be suprised how easy it is and how many tomatoes you can grow on even an apartment balcaony. :)

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: rachaels
                                          MakingSense RE: rachaels Jan 31, 2007 07:34 PM

                                          I think you're right that the best flavor is from tomatoes canned in nothing but their own juice. When you can your own, they have the best flavor if you cold-pack them, filling the jars with nothing but tomatoes. I could not believe how easy it was. The commercial ones in purée are too heavy and there's less actual whole tomato because the purée is used as filler in the can. It's useless since I rarely cook with purée.
                                          KarlS makes an excellent point about the variations in tomatoes even under the same label within the same season. Since plum varieties are not determinate, the temperature and rainfall over the length of the harvest season may have as great or greater an affect than the volcanic soil or the DOP designation. My own home-canned tomatoes vary from batch to batch within the same season as the Summer turns to Fall.
                                          I think we can see from some of the confusion on this thread that the "San Marzano" and DOP labels do almost as much to confuse as to clarify.

                                        2. c
                                          cheapertrick RE: bxgirl Jan 31, 2007 06:58 PM

                                          I like Carmelina, specifically the San Marzano. The only ingrediants are tomatoes and tomato puree. No additives or preservatives such as basil, salt, or citric acid. Just pure tomato goodness. The cherry tomatoes are pretty good as well.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: cheapertrick
                                            1HotTomato RE: cheapertrick Jul 11, 2007 09:14 PM

                                            Citric acid occurs naturally in tomatoes and helps preserve them. It is flavorless. If you DON'T see citric acid on the label, the can includes green tomatoes (that have been picked very prematurely) that contain high levels of citric acid to balance the product out. This gives a bitter flavor - not from the citric acid, but rather from the unripened tomatoes.

                                            1. re: 1HotTomato
                                              mattboy RE: 1HotTomato Jul 12, 2007 01:15 AM

                                              sorry, but citric acid is not "flavorless" it tastes like, well, citric acid. like acid from citrus, think lemons

                                              1. re: 1HotTomato
                                                veropomodori RE: 1HotTomato Oct 15, 2007 11:15 AM

                                                This post is inaccurate. Citric acid is added to tomato products as a pH regulator. Over time, the pH in canned tomato products can change, especially with older tomato products out of code. The citric acid guards against unsafe changes in pH and allows tomato packers to run their lines faster. Anyone with any kind of rudimentary taste buds can taste citric acid, especially chefs.

                                            2. jenniebnyc RE: bxgirl Jan 31, 2007 07:46 PM

                                              La Valle
                                              My own jarred this past Fall

                                              1. g
                                                gperls RE: bxgirl Feb 1, 2007 02:54 AM

                                                For tomato sauces, I prefer a DOP San Marzano tomato. They are rarely available locally, so I usually have to mail order them by the case. But the flavor is so much better than the national brands.

                                                For pizzas, I use Escalon 6 in 1 crushed tomatoes. All they need is a shake of oregano, and they're ready to top your pizza straight out of the can. They're very popular at pizzamaking.com, and my family and friends love them.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: gperls
                                                  maybethereshope RE: gperls Jun 3, 2010 11:57 PM

                                                  I get San Marzano D.O.P's produced by Emma at Vincenzo's market on the Danforth. It was 3.49 a can (800ml), far more than my mom pays for her Unico's but I've been eager to see how different the flavour is with the family recipe.

                                                  I know they're also available at the Whole Foods in Oakville.

                                                2. 1
                                                  1HotTomato RE: bxgirl Feb 1, 2007 07:22 PM

                                                  The absolute, hands-down best brand is Stanislaus Food Products. Their tomatoes are fresh-packed at the peak of harvest and are consistently amazing. The founder of Stanislaus is Dino Cortopassi, who is also the founder of Muir Glen - only he sold that line early on. It hasn't been the same since.

                                                  Stanislaus manufactures Alta Cucina tomatoes, which are the best San Marzano style whole peeled around. Consistently bright red, sweet and fresh, you won't find a better tomato out there. They also make 7-11 and Tomato Magic, which are their extremely versatile ground tomato products. All are available at Restaurant Depot, and some in small sizes at Italian specialty stores. Chances are, your favorite Italian restaurant is a loyal Stanislaus customer. Most of the better ones are.

                                                  San Marzano tomatoes basically don't exist anymore. They grew up trellises in certain areas of Italy, and became so popular that the supply couldn't keep up with demand. The Italians hired Africans to help them harvest, but had issues with *race*, which eventually caused them the line to die. True San Marzano tomatoes are EXTREMELY rare and not found in America. Alta Cucina is the closest thing you'll find to true San Marzanos.

                                                  6-in-1 is the closest thing to Stanislaus' 7-11, but doesn't come close in flavor or consistency of quality. 6-in-1 is made by Escalon, which used to be a great brand until they were bought by Heinz. Now, they are inconsistent and expensive.

                                                  14 Replies
                                                  1. re: 1HotTomato
                                                    spades RE: 1HotTomato Feb 1, 2007 07:28 PM

                                                    Well, I am staring at a can of Pastene San Marzano Italian tomatoes, from Italy, that I just bought last week. Are you saying these are not the real deal?

                                                    1. re: spades
                                                      1HotTomato RE: spades Jul 11, 2007 09:10 PM

                                                      Yes...that is what I am saying. True "San Marzanos" don't exist anymore.

                                                      You're going to see some very interesting changes in labeling soon. The Italians have long allowed products from other countries to be erroneously labeled Italian, but new laws are starting to change that. Carmelina, who someone mentioned earlier on, are packed in Chinese paste. They are packaged and labeled in Italy...but not always grown there or packed in true juice/puree.

                                                      This is what I study for a living. I'm not just a blowhard geek...this is my specialty. My apologies if I come off as anything other than well-informed.

                                                      1. re: 1HotTomato
                                                        pgokey RE: 1HotTomato Jul 11, 2007 09:36 PM

                                                        Something basically similar happened with balsamic vinegar. It was used in a limited fashion in Italy, and was expensive because true balsamic takes a very long time to make. Dean and Deluca started importing the stuff in the early 80's, and it caught on something fierce here in America after that, and we ended up using it for everything, and in large quantities. It shortly gained mass popularity back in Italy as a result. Production couldn't keep up with the astronomical surge in demand. You can still find "true" balsamic, but it's ridiculously expensive. Most of the balsamics out there cheat in one way or another. Some of them go so far as to be a plain white vinegar with molasses added to it.

                                                        1. re: 1HotTomato
                                                          MakingSense RE: 1HotTomato Jul 11, 2007 11:35 PM

                                                          Whoa, 1HotTomato. San Marzano is an heirloom variety of plum tomato. You can get the seeds here in the US. Or anywhere. You can grow them in some areas of the US just as successfully as they can in Italy. So true San Marzanos exist.
                                                          They grow them in other areas of the Mediterranean too - sort of a problem because some of the Italian packers import those, use them for the purée that they pack with the local product and label the whole can "San Marzano, product of Italy," which is technically true but not really. The canning process is a product of Italy but gee...

                                                          1. re: MakingSense
                                                            mariekeac RE: MakingSense Oct 16, 2007 08:20 PM

                                                            There are 2 different San Marzano tomatoes. There are the 'breed' of San Marzano, which can be from any region and then there are the actual San Marzano Tomatoes (which you can recognize by the D.O.P.) from the San marzano region. They say the vulcanic grounds gives it the extra flavor.
                                                            I have to say I am one of the lucky ones who lives near a Farmers Market where they will always have San Marzano (D.O.P.) available. Always different brands. I have to say some just taste like pretty much any other canned tomato, but my absolue favorite brand has to be:

                                                            Italbrand San Marzano (d.o.p.) very tomatoey (is that a word, haha) and you don't need to add a whole lot to make it taste like a good sauce!

                                                            For the Non-San Marzano, for tomato sauce we use Cento, for jambalaya, rice & beans, etc I use Hunts...

                                                            1. re: mariekeac
                                                              MakingSense RE: mariekeac Oct 16, 2007 08:42 PM

                                                              No plants get any nutrients or flavor from pulverized volcanic rock. It only serves to lighten the soil. You could buy bags of it at your local garden center and add it to the soil in your own back yard.
                                                              The DOP designation refers to tomatoes processed in that certain region of Italy, many of which now are no longer heirloom S. Marzanos.
                                                              Even if you consistently buy the same brand, it will vary because tomatoes are an agricultural product which will vary due to growing conditions throughout the season.

                                                              1. re: MakingSense
                                                                mariekeac RE: MakingSense Oct 16, 2007 08:57 PM

                                                                sorry if my wording wasn't as correct but the dop area does stand for the area around vesuvius, with the volcanic soil, it's been said the tomato flavor is better because the water is purified by the grounds. I am not a san marzano expert, just saying what I have learned.
                                                                and of course I understand one can of tomato is not another, I have had terrible Cento's and wonderful ones, all depends on the batch and I am sure it is the same with the S Marzanos.

                                                          2. re: 1HotTomato
                                                            veropomodori RE: 1HotTomato Oct 15, 2007 11:28 AM

                                                            Unfortunately 1hottomato, you do come off as a blowhard. It sounds like your either a distributor salesperson or manufacturer rep/broker for Stanislaus. Carmelina is a 100% product of Italy, and does not make paste. Those interested should open the cans and make their own decision on taste, not on some fictional blather from the above posts. I can also surmise that your understanding of Italian law is on par with your knowledge of tomato packing. Good luck trying to sell that Stanislaus with citric acid, calcium chloride and TONS of salt. Oh, that's right, there is no nutritional info on the cans, so everyone should check out the Stanislaus website to see for themselves. http://www.stanisualusfoodproducts.com

                                                            1. re: veropomodori
                                                              johns2use RE: veropomodori Mar 24, 2010 11:55 AM

                                                              Veropomodori: First of all you need to learn how to spell and proofread your response before you click to post. Stanislaus is one of the best products out there. Tons of salt is a load of crap. All processed foods have sodium in them. I just finisded reading a can of stanislaus tomato sauce and it states clearly the citric acid is naturally derived. If you are going to post comments about specific products get your information correct. Cento is also a very good product. San Marzano tomatoes still exist you just are not aware of them. I have cooked professionally for over 30 years and do know what I am talking about. If you want the best products you must do a taste test and then buy the one you like the best. That is all.

                                                              1. re: johns2use
                                                                veropomodori RE: johns2use Mar 9, 2012 03:36 PM

                                                                LOL at your post johns2use: After 30 years of using Stanislaus, I'm sure the acidity tastes normal to you. "Naturally derived" or not they're still adding citric acid during the canning process and 1 serving of the product below is still 15% of one's RDA of salt.


                                                                I feel sorry for your customers, and please forgive my earlier misspelling of your favorite brand. It doesn't change the issue of citric acid and salt.

                                                                1. re: veropomodori
                                                                  veropomodori RE: veropomodori Mar 9, 2012 08:32 PM

                                                                  ...and after you "finisded" reading this you can take some of your own advice.

                                                                  1. re: veropomodori
                                                                    johns2use RE: veropomodori Mar 10, 2012 06:49 AM

                                                                    You can adjust for the citric acid and salt by adding a little sugar too taste. Problem solved.

                                                                    1. re: johns2use
                                                                      veropomodori RE: johns2use Mar 12, 2012 09:15 AM

                                                                      Sugar in tomato sauce causes it to caramelize and turns the sauce brown. Or, one could simply just use a tomato without citric acid and all the salt.

                                                          3. re: 1HotTomato
                                                            coll RE: 1HotTomato Feb 2, 2007 03:38 AM

                                                            LaValle brand are real San Marzano, and not so rare in my neck of the woods. I know a lot of pizzerias use Stanislaus 7-11 and Alta Cucuina, but I don't see it as much in actual restaurants.

                                                          4. b
                                                            bigjimbray RE: bxgirl Feb 1, 2007 09:13 PM

                                                            I like the home canned tomatos, they are real fresh tasting and you can add what ever
                                                            you want in them. most people don`t can there fruits and vegetables either because
                                                            of convienance or lazyness. that it is some much easier to just buy canned food.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: bigjimbray
                                                              MakingSense RE: bigjimbray Feb 1, 2007 09:51 PM

                                                              I spent about a month in late Summer in Italy several years ago on a farm in Umbria. We spent days visiting small towns and markets and every market had stalls selling canning supplies. Jars, lids, rings, electric and manual food mills, everything - and it was all for canning tomatoes. Everybody we talked to said that they all canned their own supplies for winter, sometimes with the family getting together to share the work.
                                                              They were buying cases of tomatoes at stalls. Guess they didn't care much if the tomatoes were from San Marzano or not. The fresh ones we bought every day were fabulous where ever they were from.

                                                            2. ericalloyd RE: bxgirl Feb 2, 2007 03:12 AM

                                                              my husband is the cook in my family and he swears by redpack. no complaints here. he makes some tasty meals from those tomatoes!

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: ericalloyd
                                                                1HotTomato RE: ericalloyd Jul 11, 2007 09:02 PM

                                                                Redpack are the harvest rejects. Seriously. I work in the Pizza/Italian business and am familiar with the manufacturers and processes. Redpack are packed from what remains after Stanislaus, Escalon, and the other higher end packers take their pick.

                                                                1. re: 1HotTomato
                                                                  ericalloyd RE: 1HotTomato Jul 12, 2007 03:50 AM

                                                                  thanks for the info. redpack tomatoes taste good to me. seriously.

                                                                  1. re: 1HotTomato
                                                                    ccbweb RE: 1HotTomato Jul 12, 2007 06:52 AM

                                                                    Which doesn't matter a bit if its what someone thinks tastes good. Personally, I grew up on Hunt's and I tend to use whatever is on sale when i'm at the market. I've gone through various "high end" canned tomato products over the years and didn't find any or at least enough of a difference such that I spend a lot of time worrying about it.

                                                                    1. re: 1HotTomato
                                                                      vvvindaloo RE: 1HotTomato Jul 12, 2007 08:53 PM

                                                                      Hot Tomato- I recently discovered Strianese brand tomatoes from Italy. Got any info on those? I am always on the hunt for delicious, Italian-grown tomatoes of good quality for my sauces (I cook a lot of different pasta dishes, and use different tomatoes, depending on the particular sauce). I grew up on Pomi and Redpack, because my family considered them the best available in our area at the time. Today, there are so many brands of Italian canned tomatoes around, with different labeling methods, that it is hard to know what's what. I use La Valle, Carmelina di San Marzano, Il Famoso San Marzano, and others (including non-San Marzano). I'd appreciate any info you'd like to share on these brands, and am sure than many of us would like to hear any recommendations you may have. Thanks!

                                                                  2. c
                                                                    CookingGirl RE: bxgirl Jul 12, 2007 06:56 AM

                                                                    I love Pastene Kitchen Ready...either the regular or chunky. It looks more red than other canned tomatoes, and tastes very fresh and sweet.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: CookingGirl
                                                                      Gio RE: CookingGirl Jul 12, 2007 09:11 AM

                                                                      Historically, my Italian family has been using PKR for generations. They originated in Boston's North End, you know. However, a few days ago I made a marinara sauce with Muir Glen and I was so surprised! Not only did the sauce/kitchen smell like my Grandmother's the taste was absolutely delicious.

                                                                      1. re: Gio
                                                                        sarge RE: Gio Jul 12, 2007 07:36 PM

                                                                        My Mother always insisted Winn Dixie brand were the best. I never could really tell, but they are my default choice because that's what my mother taught me

                                                                    2. OCEllen RE: bxgirl Jul 12, 2007 07:56 PM

                                                                      Muir Glen fire roasted definately tops!

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: OCEllen
                                                                        Richard 16 RE: OCEllen Jul 12, 2007 09:06 PM

                                                                        Add me to the Muir Glen fire roasted bunch.

                                                                        1. re: Richard 16
                                                                          mcel215 RE: Richard 16 Jul 14, 2007 08:13 AM

                                                                          Pastene Kitchen Ready for me, and get them on sale for .69 cents a can.

                                                                          I tried Muir Glen, but for the huge price difference, didn't notice much difference in flavor.

                                                                          Of course, when I cook my 'sauce', it's got plenty of meat, garlic and spices, so after cooking it for over 2hrs, it has great flavor. Not sure it's all about the brand of tomatoes I use. ;)

                                                                      2. a
                                                                        adventuresinbaking RE: bxgirl Oct 15, 2007 12:14 PM

                                                                        I was using the store brand for a bit until I read the article in Cooks Illustraited on tasting canned tomatoes. They found out a lot of cheaper brands use Lye to remove the skins.

                                                                        I now stock up on Muir Glen when they go on sale, and I love the fire roasted.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: adventuresinbaking
                                                                          coney with everything RE: adventuresinbaking Oct 16, 2007 09:24 AM

                                                                          I'm with you--WF puts them on sale sometimes, so I stock up then. The lye thing grossed me out too.

                                                                          1. re: adventuresinbaking
                                                                            MakingSense RE: adventuresinbaking Oct 16, 2007 12:48 PM

                                                                            Lye is used in lots of food processing, and often used to remove skins from fruits and veggies..
                                                                            If you write things off just because of lye, you'll have to do without chocolate and cocoa, olives, pretzels, and grits. I'm not going to miss lutefisk but soap manufacturing is a pretty basic use of lye and then it goes right on your skin.

                                                                          2. archangelcat RE: bxgirl Oct 16, 2007 04:18 PM

                                                                            I'll buy almost any brand, preferably any Italian san marzano...my fave brand is La Bella, more important than origin is kind - choose plum tomatoes...round tomatoes have between five and seven or seed pockets; plum tomatoes like the san marzano have two, thus meatier/less seeds and liquid.

                                                                            1. a
                                                                              alysonlaurel RE: bxgirl Oct 16, 2007 05:00 PM

                                                                              I like the 365 kind, but the Muir Glen fire-roasted are better. I head from America's Test Kitchen that the Italian tomatoes were inferior because they pack them in puree instead of juice to get around tax issues. If they export them as sauce it's cheaper. I always thought the Italian ones weren't that good, so I was glad to not feel so crazy.

                                                                              At any rate, Muir Glen are my faavorites, but those 365 ones are so cheap that they are hard to resist, and they're just fine.

                                                                              1. MSK RE: bxgirl Oct 16, 2007 08:35 PM

                                                                                Have you tried the Pomi line of tomatoes by Parmalat (an Italian company). They actually come in a box and many, many professional chef's will tell you that they are the closest to vine tomatoes you can get. Very fresh tasting!

                                                                                Around here (N. CA) you can get them everywhere including most grocery markets, Trader Joes and Whole Foods.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: MSK
                                                                                  markabauman RE: MSK Oct 17, 2007 04:02 PM

                                                                                  I was just in the Stanislaus website and they state they sell only to restaurants through food service distributors. How did those of you in this thread come by them?

                                                                                  1. re: markabauman
                                                                                    pikawicca RE: markabauman Oct 17, 2007 04:33 PM

                                                                                    I can buy them here in the midwest in 2 local grocery stores. They shouldn't be that hard to find,anywhere.

                                                                                2. i
                                                                                  icechipmom RE: bxgirl Dec 16, 2008 07:49 AM

                                                                                  I was given two cans of Stanislaus , Tomato Magic, ground tomatos......I used it for a traditional Neopolitan Pork Tomato Sauce, I was very impressed with the quality, color and flavor. I am a dedicated Redpak customer. I thought Tomato Magic made a superior tomato sauce. I have tried Muir Glenn, was unimpressed, as well as San Marzano style tomatoes in the past, always went back to Redpak. However of late I was not happy with Redpak either.

                                                                                  1. v
                                                                                    vtnewbie RE: bxgirl Dec 16, 2008 12:32 PM

                                                                                    If you can't get decent fresh tomatoes, then Red Gold.

                                                                                    1. Caralien RE: bxgirl Jan 9, 2009 09:18 AM

                                                                                      Our usual brand is Sclafani, but on a whim we bought a 28oz can of Ferrante's Jersey Fresh canned tomatoes ($2) and they're likely the best we've ever had. Richer and sweeter than what we're used to, with a flavour closer to the concentrated, sweet flavour one gets from tomato paste.

                                                                                      Ingredients: Tomatoes, salt.

                                                                                      The cans are also completely recyclable, as they are not lined in plastic.


                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Caralien
                                                                                        MarioD RE: Caralien Mar 2, 2009 09:08 AM

                                                                                        Just to clarify some misinformation in this thread, the claim that original San Marzano tomatoes no longer exist is incorrect. By the year 2000, 90% of Italy's San Marzano vines (near Naples) had been wiped out by CMV (cucumber mosaic virus). A genetically modified tomato strain was introduced that is resistant to this disease, and while most Italian farmers have moved to the new strain, some have not (primarily because of anti-GMO sentiment). CMV is easily eradicated by removing infected vines, and allowing sunlight and dryness to work their magic on soil. But few growers have been willing or able to lose this revenue.

                                                                                        The San Marzano DOP designation refers simply to a geographical location, so there's no way to know, other than by taste or asking a company, which strain of tomato is being sold. The original strain has a stronger and fresher tomato flavor than the genetically modified one.

                                                                                        Hope this helps,


                                                                                        1. re: MarioD
                                                                                          coll RE: MarioD Mar 9, 2009 11:05 AM

                                                                                          Would you know which tomatoes LaValle uses? Or which brand does use the old strain of tomatoes?

                                                                                      2. l
                                                                                        Lenox637 RE: bxgirl Mar 2, 2009 11:00 AM

                                                                                        I buy New Jersey plum tomatoes in season and can for the year. All canned products, foreign and domestic, don't come anywhere close.

                                                                                        1. Will Owen RE: bxgirl Apr 2, 2010 12:52 PM

                                                                                          Back in the mid '50s Stan Freberg did a radio spot for Contadina Whole Peeled Tomatoes. Typical Freberg, it was both witty and memorable ("Stacked in the can?" "Yes." "Like red tennis balls, huh?" "Yes, like red tennis balls." "Only they don't bounce so good."), and for that reason alone Contadina has been my default brand for any tomato product that they make.

                                                                                          To be perfectly candid here, I find the REAL San Marzanos to be too bitter; I prefer the rounder, sweeter flavor of American ones. Even if they don't bounce so good.

                                                                                          1. roxlet RE: bxgirl Jun 4, 2010 12:21 AM

                                                                                            I love the Nina tomatoes that they have at Costco, and that I occasionally find in smaller sizes in some Italian markets. I knew an Italian guy who claimed that these were the freshest canned tomatoes available, and that you could really tell how fresh they were when you bought newly canned ones in the fall (I'm not sure how he knew that that they were 'newly canned'). He said that he would buy the giant Nina cans from Costco and freeze what he didn't use immediately. I don't know about any of that, but I do think they're very good.

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: roxlet
                                                                                              kbc181 RE: roxlet Jan 8, 2011 07:48 AM

                                                                                              I f you want great tomatoes get Jersey Fresh crushed tomatoes. There is nothing in the can except tomatoes. As it says on the can there is no citric acid, concentrate, water, sugar, puree or paste, just world famous Jersey Tomatoes. We have been using them for the last year and they are great. They are better than any other no matter where they are from.They are hard to find but can be found in the Super Foodtowns of Monmouth and Ocean Counties in central NJ. Look for the red,white and green can with the JERSEY FRESH LABEL. So support a local farmer and get a great product.

                                                                                              1. re: kbc181
                                                                                                kbc181 RE: kbc181 Jan 8, 2011 07:57 AM

                                                                                                I did forget to mention that they can also be found at almost all the farmers markets across Monmouth County when they are open again in the spring.

                                                                                            2. i
                                                                                              IDavis RE: bxgirl Jul 25, 2011 09:12 PM

                                                                                              If you don't want to spend top dollar. Muir Glenn organically grown tomatoes are good, though the consistency varies. Red Pack crushed tomatoes are good too and both these domestic brands make acceptable tomatoes sauces. They run between $2.00 and $3.00 per 28oz can. Now, if money is not an issue and you want to make the best tomato sauce possible using canned tomatoes, then nothing beats the DOP certified San Marzano variety imported from Italy. In fact, unless you know a grower, most any canned tomato will make a better sauce than fresh tomatoes typically found at local super markets. San Marzanos are a whole level up from any other canned tomato. In fact, one difference with the San Marzano tomato is that it has a fresher taste and does not have that stewy taste typical of most canned tomatoes. It's what your top chefs typically use when making sauces and the only brand I have used is Cento, so I can't comment on other brands. San Marzano is the region in which these tomatoes are grown. They are roma tomatoes and apparently the soil in San Marzano is volcanic, which is supposedly why the tomatoes are so much better. It is important that you only buy DOP certified (the Italian governments Designation Origin certification). If the can does not carry the DOP designation, there is a good chance the tomatoes are not from San Marzano. They typically run between $5.00 & 7.00 dollars per can.

                                                                                              1. j
                                                                                                Janskitchen RE: bxgirl Jan 22, 2012 09:25 AM

                                                                                                I agree that the Jersey Fresh crushed tomatoes are the best I've ever tried. I have searched out San Marzano tomatoes and while some of them have been very good, I prefer the Jersey Fresh. Does anyone know of a market in the Philly area where the Jersey Fresh brand is consistently available? I've only seen them a few times in my local Shop Rite.

                                                                                                1. njmarshall55 RE: bxgirl Mar 12, 2012 12:34 PM

                                                                                                  Normally, I'll pick up Progresso or Contadina from the shelf. NEVER Hunts...just personal preference. But found a box of Luigi Vitelli (Importer) Italian tomatos...incredible freshness. Now on the top of my list.

                                                                                                  1. e
                                                                                                    eggiwegs RE: bxgirl Jun 16, 2012 09:13 AM

                                                                                                    I’m fairly new to cooking, specifically making my own sauce. I’ve been experimenting with different brands of crushed tomatoes & puree. My favorite so far is Tuttorosso Crushed Tomato with Basil. Just last night, I made a sauce with Muir Glen Crushed Tomatoes with Basil & Puree and wasn’t that impressed. I’ve also tried Cento, Pastene, & Contadina. My vote to this point is Tuttorosso. And thank you for all your suggestions. Many brands on this board I haven’t heard of and am excited to try a new one hoping for another favorite!

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