Author Topic: San Marzano shootout  (Read 6857 times)

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Offline scott r

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San Marzano shootout
« on: March 22, 2005, 08:23:19 PM »
I just tried Pastene, Vantia, Collucio, La Regina, and La Bella all right from the can uncooked.  These were all DOP from Italy.  La Regina was the most expensive, and was the best.  Pastene was the cheapest and was very similar to the La Regina.  Collucio was the next best, and very similar to the Vantia. La Bella was the second most expensive, and was the worst!  It was quite a jump in flavor between the La Regina/Pastene, and the Collucio.


Online Pete-zza

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Re: San Marzano shootout
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2005, 09:51:13 PM »
Scott,

I have been using the La Reginas lately on Neapolitan style pizzas and they are good--the best I've tried so far. Some of the cheaper San Marzanos have good tomatoes but the puree can be quite thin. With the La Reginas, the puree is thick, which makes them especially good to make a cooked sauce. I last bought the La Reginas from a place in Providence by the name of Venda Ravioli (at vendaravioli.com). They are only one of a very small number of places I could find that sell the La Reginas via mail order. Venda has a good selection of San Marzanos at good prices, but when I last spoke to the people there they were in the process of changing their shipping charges from a price-based system to a weight-based system, which would have meant higher shipping charges in my case. When I threatened to cancel an order I placed over the phone, they said they would charge me the old rates, with the hopes of keeping me as a customer.

One of the things I learned from the person I dealt with at Venda is that their website doesn't always show all the San Marzanos they stock. Apparently San Marzanos are in short supply and the prices change quite frequently. As a result, they are disinclined to post the information on the website only to have to pull it off when supplies dwindle or disappear or when prices from their suppliers jump more than Venda is willing to pay. So, I have learned to ask what they have in stock when I call.

I bought the La Reginas for a little over $3 a can, and also some Famosos at a little over $2 a can. They are both DOPs. Venda also has the Vantias, although at the time I dealt with them they had only the regular Vantia San Marzanos in stock.

As for the La Bellas, I recall some time ago speaking with the importer in NJ. At the time I didn't know all that much about the DOPs other than they were supposed to be very good. When I didn't see the DOP designation on the La Bella labels, I asked the importer what DOP "really" meant and whether his San Marzano tomatoes were DOP. No matter how I framed the questions he didn't give me a direct answer. Since he had a 2-case minimum I chose not to do business without knowing what I was really getting.

Peter
« Last Edit: March 22, 2005, 09:59:56 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline scott r

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Re: San Marzano shootout
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2005, 12:45:56 AM »
Peter I have been reading your posts, and you are so full of wisdom.  I am amazed the time you put into this.  You have helped so many people.  Once again you have hit the nail on the head.   I went back and looked at my cans of tomatoes, and yes, the la Bella's do not have the DOP certification.  They say Product of  Italy, they are definitely San Marzano's, but no DOP.  After realizing my error, I checked all the other cans, and the Vantia's were the same.  Product of Italy, San's, but no DOP.   Now I will have to go find some DOP Vantia's.  I know that is what I saw Dominic using, along with the fresh tomatoes, when I visited De Fara's.  Also, while I was there he had the Grande fresh mozzarella in water.  He had the big white plastic tubs of it that say Grande Fior De Latte.  I have seen people mention that he mixes the buffalo with the normal Grande, but when I was there it was fresh Grande, normal Grande, Buffalo, plus the hard grated cheese.  Maybe he was running out of Buffalo.

By the way, I picked up a bag of  the Bel Aria 00 when I was getting the tomatoes.  I can't wait to try out your dough recipe.  I think I will begin my first 00 adventure without the starter, but I will be ordering one soon for sure.

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: San Marzano shootout
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2005, 09:24:18 AM »
The DOP certification is a tricky one, as any other legilsation in ITaly...

True San Marzano are very rare because the easily get a virus that reduce the crop. Most of the San Marzano sold are made with San Marzano 2 seeds, which is an improved seeds resistent to the above virus.

To have the dop label, the tomatoes needs to be grown in a specific area. If it is grown just outside that area, cannot be call San Marzano. Then you still need to be part of the consortium, which in turn, means expensive fees to be paid.

The best and most consistent brand I have used, are La Fiammante, and they do not have the certification, even if they are grown in the area just outside the certification.

To conclude, DOP is a good guarantee, but should not be the exclusive reference when making a buying choice...

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: San Marzano shootout
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2005, 09:30:31 AM »

Online Pete-zza

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Re: San Marzano shootout
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2005, 10:55:34 AM »
Marco,

I agree with everything you say on the San Marzanos. Sometimes I have been in places where the DOPs were not available and I had to settle for non-DOP San Marzanos. And they worked out fine for my purposes.

I have written more than once before on this subject so that our members are not fooled by tomatoes that are sold by some exporters as being genuine San Marzano tomatoes, when in fact they were grown outside of the Dell' agro Sarnese Nocerino region. Frequently the prices for these tomatoes are as high as the prices for the DOP tomatoes.

Peter
« Last Edit: March 23, 2005, 01:32:27 PM by Pete-zza »

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Re: San Marzano shootout
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2005, 02:31:49 PM »
Cheesy,

Pizza Napoletana is better qualified to speak on San Marzanos than I, but, basically the designation DOP (Denominazione di origine protetta - Protected Denomination of Origin) is "awarded to agricultural and food products having all phases of production carried out within a delimited geographical area following an officially approved production process, and whose properties are essentially derived from their geographical environment, inclusive of natural and human factors."

I think it is safe to say that there is an inherent quality aspect of San Marzanos grown in the Sarnese Nocerino region because that region is known for its vesuvial soil deposits through which natural waters filter and is used in growing the tomatoes. In that respect, it reminds me of the expression au terroir as used by French wine producers to describe the quality of the soil and all the other factors that give their wines their unique character that can't easily, if ever, be replicated elsewhere. It may well be that there are other areas around Naples that have vesuvial soil deposits, but I will leave that to Pizza Napoletana to enlighten us on if he so wishes.

I agree with your statement of the factors that should go into the selection of tomatoes, no matter what kind they are or where they are grown. I happen to have settled on the San Marzanos (both DOP and non-DOP) and the Escalon 6-in-1s for my purposes, based on the criteria you mentioned, but I also understand that others will apply the criteria differently and come up with their own favorites.

Peter

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Re: San Marzano shootout
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2005, 04:46:43 PM »
I am as suspicious as the next person about what govenmental agencies or other organizations do to protect certain markets. I suspect that's one of the reasons that the VPN (Verace Pizza Napoletana) is criticized and ignored by most Neapolitan pizza makers in the U.S. and also why most Italian pizza makers are ignoring the new regulations in their country.

As for your question on whether San Marzano tomatoes are a varietal or an area, I believe the answer is both. There is a San Marzano varietal, but I understand that there is also a town by that name and a "San Marzano" region. I suspect that tomatoes grown from seeds of the varietal are produced in all those places. They are often sold as "San Marzano style" tomatoes or tomatoes grown in the "San Marzano region", and frequently passed off onto consumers as being the real deal, with prices to match. What I have tried to do on this forum on San Marzanos is to educate our readership on the prevailing practices, good and bad, so that they can make their own decisions, but on an informed basis. A good example of this is the so-called San Marzanos grown in the U.S. using San Marzano seeds. The ones I tried (sold through SiLtd) were among the worst tomatoes I have ever eaten. But I didn't know what to expect until I tried them, and I paid pretty much full list price for the privilege. Maybe you will have better results if you decide to grown your own San Marzanos. If you do, I hope you will share your results with the rest of us. If I could grow them in the long hot summers of Texas (where tomatoes are not indigenous), I would give them a try myself, if for no reason than to see if I have a good au terroir in my own backyard.

Peter

« Last Edit: March 23, 2005, 04:56:23 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: San Marzano shootout
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2005, 08:19:06 PM »
Peter

your explanation in the earliest post about DOP was exact.

The DOP will require also for the tomatoes to yield a max amount of crop, therefore the price will be higher.

I believe I was misunderstood, when I talked about different area.

The Campania region is full of Volcanic soil, from north to south, west to est.
Vesuvius, is the best known, but there are also Campi Flegrei, Astroni, Roccamonfina, Averno, Lucrino etc. all ex-vulcanos.

Anyway, my point was different. The best region to grow  San Marzano tomatoes is indeed around the Vesuvius (I have tried to grow them elsewhere with poor results, but I successfully grown the "piennolo" variety). The problem start when you look into Italian law. Two adjourning towns, may have different councils. Now one council maybe part of the DOP area, and the other is not... That is the point.
LA Fiammante are indeed grown under the Vesuvio, but closer to Naples, that is all.

Offline MTPIZZA

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Re: San Marzano shootout
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2005, 09:56:41 AM »
I've mostly used Muir Glen tomatoes...Organic and great tomato taste without being too acid. No need to add sugar or any other seasoning. They are a little expensive in the grocery stores but well worth it.


Offline dinks

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Re: San Marzano shootout
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2005, 04:56:17 PM »
MIPIZZA 7 CHEESY:
   Good Afternoon to the both of you. That brand of tomatoes are recommened by Chris Kimball the editor of "COOK'S MAGAZINE" Probably the very best magazine in the culinary community that is published. I thought you would like to know that.  Good Luck & have a nice day to the both of you.

      ~DINKS.

Offline sandman843

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Re: San Marzano shootout
« Reply #11 on: November 19, 2008, 04:05:31 PM »
I'm sorry I know this is an old forum but I have to post because some misinformation is here.

In response to demand for a return to the traditional San Marzano tomato, the Italian government granted a D.O.P. (protected denomination of origin) to the authentic San Marzano.  This ruling requires that it be grown in the traditional way (vertical plants with fruit off the ground, harvested by hand), and in the traditional Sarnese-Nocerino area.  The yield per acre is regulated, as are other aspects of cultivation.  As for canning, the tomatoes themselves, as well as the juice they are packed in, must be of the designated variety.

A consortium of manufacturers in the region was granted the responsibility of safeguarding these controls.  The authentic San Marzano D.O.P. must have:
    * The correct name, that is: San Marzano Tomatoes of the Sarnese-Nocerino area D.O.P
    * The three seals of authenticity printed on the side panel
    * An individual number stamped on the side of the label
It is against Italian labeling law to use the words “San Marzano” on the label in any form other than the system outlined above.  Some companies continue to do so anyway. Visit pastene.com for more information.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2008, 01:16:18 PM by sandman843 »

Offline JConk007

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Re: San Marzano shootout
« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2008, 11:57:07 AM »
Thanks Sandmand,
I love diggin up the old posts! I did the CENTO (thread)comparison shootout a few weeks back.
More tid bits for the next pizza party! and I will check my cans tonight, but , what makes them taste so different from the same areawhen they do meet your criteria above.Same  soil, weather, is it the protected seed?. I did a side by side DOP test labelles and other lables several times and yes,  I did notice quite a difference in flavor even with my untrained tounge  :P I need to start taking notes like the smart people do!
John
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Offline sandman843

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Re: San Marzano shootout
« Reply #13 on: November 20, 2008, 12:30:50 PM »
Yo John

The Italian laws can be ignored here in the states. A real good example is the company called "San Marzano" none of their tomatoes are imported yet there ya go. You can even put DOP on the can, doesn't matter. You need to look and see the can has a sequential number (check multiple cans) The amount out of the region is limited by Italian law. You can know that they come from the region if they have that number.

San Marzano tomatoes are not just a species of tomato -- they are unique to where they are grown and how they are processed. It matters how the tomato is packed. They are not all packed by the same folks and unless you know the area your not going to know who is packing your can of San Marzano. As near as I can tell the Pastene.com has gone the extra mile and tried all the different packers to find the right one and have stuck with them.

It really comes down to looking at the label. Looking for the number and then the ingredients. San Marzanos will only be packed in Tomato juice, never puree. Ultimately it's your discriminating taste that can tell the difference, and if you can't tell the difference then... I've tried more than a few I like the real San Marzano in my sauce and I like Pastene brand best. Real east coast Yankee Italian here.

Best Mike
« Last Edit: November 20, 2008, 01:18:28 PM by sandman843 »

Offline JConk007

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Re: San Marzano shootout
« Reply #14 on: November 24, 2008, 09:43:14 AM »
Thanks for the info Mike,
I'll look for the Pastene brand to try out as well.
John
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Offline jeff v

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Re: San Marzano shootout
« Reply #15 on: November 24, 2008, 11:12:28 AM »
Alright I'll throw my .02 in here. My favorite San Marzano's are DE CECCO DOP, and this is by a clear margin. They are expensive, but really good. I use them exclusively when I make pasta, and most of the time for pizza. The other times for pizza I use Cento DOP, and sometimes La Bella.

Jeff

P.S. The 6in1's are for my recent foray into siciliian and pan style.

Offline JConk007

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Re: San Marzano shootout
« Reply #16 on: November 24, 2008, 11:31:17 AM »
Well stocked Jeff!
Wheres the flour shelf KA or Caputo ?
John
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Offline jeff v

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Re: San Marzano shootout
« Reply #17 on: November 24, 2008, 12:50:44 PM »
The flour is behind you on the other side of the kitchen.
Left to Right- Caputo 00 Pizzeria, Semolina flour (for pasta and my next Sicillian), KABF, KAAP.

Jeff

P.S. Yes that is quick cook polenta.  :-[

Offline JConk007

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Re: San Marzano shootout
« Reply #18 on: November 24, 2008, 03:39:14 PM »
Looks like my cabinet, and right from pennmac my fav ;D
john
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