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Jan 27, 2013 08:43 AM

Various Brands of San Marzano Tomatoes

I would like to hear CH's opinions on canned San Marzano tomatoes.
1) Costco carries the brand Nina and the label says San Marzano - are they true San Marzano tomatoes or 'San Marzano style'?
2) My other question is with regard to the Cento brand. I believe they are true San Marzano I correct?
I notice one big difference between Cento canned tomatoes and the other brands (like Nina) that I've tried: The Cento tomatoes are of a softer consistency and packed in a thick sauce. I think they are nicer to cook with and make a very good sauce.
3) Many other brands have tomatoes of a harder texture and are packed in liquid.
What are your opinions are what brands do you prefer to use?

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  1. Cento packs San Marzano tomatoes *and* other tomatoes. They label the San Marzano ones but the cans are the same color, so read the label. Just sayin'.

    3 Replies
    1. re: PesachBenSchlomo

      Yes, the Cento ones I'm referring to are clearly labeled San Marzano.

      1. re: prio girl

        I just checked the 35 oz. can of Cento Italian tomatoes in my pantry. No mention of San Marzano. Grrrr.....

        1. re: Veggo

          Now that I'm checking more carefully, I realize there are some Cento labelled "Italian style" and some are labelled "San Marzano."

    2. If you want truly San Marzano-grown tomatoes, look for the DOP appellation. Many, even imported, S.M.'s aren't grown in San Marzano.

      That said, I grew my own S.M. one year, and didn't think they were great...maybe it really is the terroir thing!

      1. I'm using Simpson Imports San Marzanos, mostly.

        These are not imported — the tomatoes are grown in California. They are the same cultivar grown in San Marzano. I buy them because they are domestic and because I like the result, not because they are inexpensive (they're not, where I get them). I just don't see any good reason to bring tomatoes from Europe to North America.

        For certain recipes, I use Strianese D.O.P. San Marzanos, because that's a brand consistently available and because I like the result. These have a thicker purée than the others, and are available in a small can.

        2 Replies
        1. re: GH1618

          I'm sorry, but they are NOT the same. For San Marzano tomatoes to be "true" SM's, they have to be grown in the Saranese-Nocerino region of Italy, under Vesuvius (the volcano). The soil here is unlike anywhere else in the world thus producing the best tomatoes in the world, which happen to be San Marzano's. Please do not buy the brand you are using. They are duping you into believing they are San Marzano's. Not even the same seed is being used. Do a side by side comparison. Not even close. Do a taste comparison, an even greater gap.

          1. re: lucaadriani

            Yes, I know the mythology behind the "true" San Marzanos, and I also use D.O.P. San Marzanos occasionally. I'm using some other domestic (US) tomoatoes now, as well as the Strianese D.O.P., but I'm certainly not going to buy all my canned tomatoes fro Italy just to have them grown in that magic San Marzano soil, thank you.

        2. I love the Nina brand tomatoes from Costco - they come in a nice thick puree, and are soft enough to crush easily by hand. As far as I know, they're the real deal.

          1 Reply
          1. re: biondanonima

            The Nina tomatoes at my Costco say "from San Marzano region" in very small letters over the tomato logo on the cans, almost as an afterthought. They don't specifically say they're San Marzano tomatoes or even from the San Marzano region. Are those the ones you mean? The giant can is much cheaper than Cento San Marzanos from the supermarket, but if something sounds too good to be true...

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