Thanks for the warm welcome. It's reassuring to hear that you folks know what to watch out for in the dubious tomatoe market. I have only read a few threads so I spoke without knowing who knew what. Hope no one thought I spoke out of turn. This is an essential topic for me because it extends to my cooking apart from pizza. I have gotten to the point where I grow my own plum tomatoes organically and can them myself. This might seem extreme, but my wife and I come from strong canning traditions so it didn't mean a big equiptment investment. The true tomatoes of that beautiful plain in Campagna, the San Marzano tomatoes grown in the rich volcanic soil under the extremem heat of the Neapolitan sun, these can not be found here. This is my opinion, but how happy I would be to find them here, so let me know. I have tried La Regina, in the 28oz cans and the #10 size cans, and found them very good tasting when you discard the canning liquid. These seem to be the best I can find. There is a line of San Marzanos in simple cans that are often found in gourmet places. I happen to know Williams Sonoma carries them. Don't waste you money. These seem to be San Marzano in name only (although they might well carry the seal).
We can from the best plum, Roma, or San Marzano plants that we can grow. I have grown my San Marzano plants from seeds I was given by a friend who lives outside of Peastum. These are very good, but we have neither the sun or the soil. It might well be that our plum tomatoes are the best. They're much more hardy than the Roma or San Marzano varieties. All three of these varieties make good pomodori pelati beacuse they have less seeds, smaller cavities and alot of flesh. In all honesty and humility, the only tomatoes I have had in this country that approach the deep flavor of the tomatoes in Campagna are those I have canned at home. It takes less time than you think, it's a great family activity (certainly beats a night watching TV) and if you buy alot of good quality organic tomatoes at the farmer's market you can make enough for a year on a single Sunday afternoon. Just be sure that the tomatoes are very good.
I hope this doesn't seem unreasonable or snobish. We work hard to grow a good crop and get them canned for the year. It's not a foodey fad or a passing hobby.
Would love to talk more about tomatoes, and I invite all comments.
All the Best,