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Jun 28, 2009 10:36 PM

San Marzano Tomatoes in Juice not Puree?

Has anyone found a place to buy these canned tomatoes locally or online? Specifically, I am looking for either La Valle/Cullucio/Strianese brand of san marzano tomatoes, packed in the juice (vs. packed in puree). I'm ok with basil leaf etc.


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  1. I've seen LaValle San Marzano type (but not DOP) in juice at Buon Italia in the Chelsea Market, but only in #10 cans (108 oz.) If you need/can use that much at a time, they're a good deal, though.

    7 Replies
    1. re: MikeG

      That's a lot. #10s are big but I wanted to cook in batches this time anyway. had gone to their website but found it tough to find any information.

      Probably will cook up a batch of marinara and a batch of bolognese or something and freeze most of it.

      1. re: MikeG

        Oh just saw these aren't DOP. Any chance you know where to find DOP in juice? I cook rarely so I am willing to "pay up" for DOP. so 108 ounce/freezing undoes most of the benefit I imagine..

        1. re: shanshan

          I've never specifically noticed a DOP version in juice in any size. Coluccio in the jar might be in juice, but I'm really not sure. If it is, it's not cheap but I think I saw it at Fairway recently and DiPalo's down in Little Italy often has it. Then there's Coluccio's storefront in Brooklyn, but I've never been. They might have big cans?

          Fwiw, a few years ago I tried a lot of different brands including DOP versions and decided I liked the LaValle San Marzano-type as much, or close enough to not bother spending the extra money on the DOP. (In/even in puree. I haven't noticed a big difference the couple of times I've used the ones packed in juice.)

          As for undoing benefit by freezing cooked sauce, I think the idea is supposed to be that the juice doesn't taste as cooked as the puree so I don't think freezing would undo that, especially by the time it's prepared.

          1. re: MikeG

            Thank you for the feedback on LaValle. Lots of chowhounders love this brand!

        2. re: MikeG

          Went there today but only saw LaValle in puree. Lots of different types though.. 28 oz in English and Italian lettering, 108 oz, cherry tomatoes, crushed tomatoes etc. etc. but everything says its in puree?

          1. re: shanshan

            I then called them up and they said they have the #10 LaValle can in "light juice'. Perfect. Must have missed them when I was there or perhaps cans are mislabeled. They said they had "light juice" and "puree". PERFECT.

            Also I have discovered Pastene and Italbrand and ?Poma Rosa? also sell DOP in juice online various places. Also have found some other "independent" aka "smaller" labels but given how LaValle/Strianese etc. are rated consistently higher, I'm happy to take the LaValle.

            1. re: shanshan

              Pickedup a #10 can. The can itself says packed in puree, but a store worker said they were in fact packed in light juice and the store labeled "light juice" in their pricing sticker. They said the only way to tell they were in juice vs. puree was on the SKU given to the product.. ending in 8 vs. 4. Didn't think they could make it up so I lifted 2 cans. Haven't opened yet.. also picked up a small DOP can.. to see if I can compare pre-cooking. Looks like someone else in this thread is a fan of the glass packed tomatoes I had seen of a different brand.

        3. I've really found the San Marzano tomatoes that Whole Foods carries (in a non-discript can with tomatoes on it--purple and green I think) to be delicious. I think they come in puree.

          10 Replies
          1. re: lawgirl1984

            Agree with the Whole Foods ones. Also, I like Cento brand which you can find in numerous Italian specialty stores and, often , Whole Foods.

            1. re: stephaniec25

              If you are talking about the and with the white label and the red tomato designs, sold at WF, they are NOT Italian San Marzanos. In my opinion, these are not nearly as good as the genuine imported canned San Marzanos.

              1. re: erica

                laValle tomatoes can be found at fairway, as well as 3 or 4 other DOP San Marzano tomatoes...

                    1. re: erica

                      Okay.... well they're still delicious. And if "Cento" brand is real, I like the WF ones more. Everyone loves my sauce.

                      That said I'll have to try a rec for an imported brand.

                      1. re: erica

                        I do use that San Marzano brand that is not really San Marzano - from the U.S. - if I don't have anything else - it's sold at various markets. I like the whole tomatoes much better than the puree/cut up ones.

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          Not to geek out on everyone here, but the major reason "true" san marzano's are prized are because of their minimal skin (thickness and surface area) and minimal seeds. Seeds and skin are the most bitter part of the tomato, so it follows that a tomato that has the least of both would be least bitter and best for cooking.

                          Since most canned tomatoes are already skinned, that's not a real issue, it's really the fewer seeds and more pulp in the DOP San Marzanos.

                          However I regularly use non-DOP tomatoes, but take care to remove most of the seeds before using in a sauce or cooking with them.

                          I've also been told that the puree is more bitter because they don't take care to remove as much of the seed and skin before pureeing - It makes sense, but I haven't verfied this.

                          1. re: Spends Rent on Food

                            Thanks for the color. I actually have a new foodmill to try out, which should remove most of the seeds. first food mill I bought was generic brand from Best Buy which was a disaster. New one is the $50 XO one with strong reviews.. should be good for going through a whole slew of tomatoes.

                        2. re: erica

                          erica i totally agree, those tomotoes are imposters lolol and not good

                    2. I've noticed lately that the 14 oz cans of La Valle peeled tomatoes no longer say "San Marzano" on the label. I have also noticed that the tomato count in these cans has dwindled to about 5 and you now get a full cup of juice, while you used to get about a half cup. The quality of these tomatoes has also suffered.

                      We spotted another brand, "Carmelina 'e...San Marzano", at Fairway and have been pleased with them. The quality and amount of tomatoes is what La Valle was two years ago, maybe better. And they cost only $1.39 for a 14 oz can.

                      1. I share your wish, too: even the best San Marzano DOP get muddied with sweetness when packed in puree. Teitel Bros on Arthur Ave, Bronx, packs its own good DOP at $2.49/can, in juice. for online ordering. This is a rare treat, and very well priced. Failing this, you can strain the puree off, and use the tomatoes by themselves, maybe with a touch of water, and the reserved puree for stews or as part of a long-cooked meat sauce/ragu.

                        1. Di Palo in Little Italy sells DOP San Marzano's whole in juice, here's their website - but they don't sell the tomatoes online.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: Spends Rent on Food

                            nice find! tried a few italian grocers but missed Di Palo. Thanks for the tip. Any review on their tomatoes?

                            1. re: Spends Rent on Food

                              Went to Di Palo's today.. on ?200? grand street? I didn't see much there. Unless I went to the wrong Di Palo... basically entered store on corner.. and maybe 2 stacked shelfs to the left with some italian goods.. and lots of empty space.. with a deli etc. in the back? they have some quarts of prepared sauces in a refridgerated section.. I saw ingredients.. sugar added!

                              1. re: shanshan

                                DiPalo is under renovation and thus the stock is quite poor.
                                However, IF they have(and I would call before wasting a trip) JARRED tomatoes, that is the way to go. Very expensive, I do admit but they are better than any cans. The storage is obviously superior.
                                Not sure where else to find them consistently in NYC.
                                Anyway, you seem to know a few things about the canned versions and might piggyback on that.

                                1. re: dietndesire

                                  The excellent Teitel Bros. Francesconi brand (DOP) is packed in juice, and fairly priced. If you can't get to the store on Arthur Ave, order from and you'll see.

                                  1. re: dietndesire

                                    Buon Italia, in the Chelsea Market, carries jarred tomatoes packed in juice of excellent quality. I can't recall the name of the brand, but it is located in the second aisle on the shelf near the front door.

                                    1. re: dietndesire

                                      Chelsea market has a brand of jarred tomatoes, but a brand I didn't recognize. $7 for a bottle.. decided against taking the risk on them just yet.. though the bottle seemed to be of decent size. Coulnd't find the "DOP" insignia though they appeared to be from Puglia.

                                      1. re: shanshan

                                        Never saw any in Buonitalia. Definitely steep but that is how it will be for glass.
                                        You seem to know your way around the tomato, if you try them or anything else you find great/terrible, please report.

                                        1. re: dietndesire

                                          Tried the LaValle DOP vs. the LaValle non-DOP.. found the DOP to be slightly sweeter.. noticeable.. probably not enough to justify the much higher cost, but it was noticeable to me. Need to compare LaValle to Striannese next.