Cooks Illustrated Issue No. (March/April 2012) has a canned whole tomato tasting and the results are both interesting and a bit surprising. They say that the Italian San Marzano tomatoes are not as good as good old American tomatoes. According to the CI blind tasting, the San Marzano tomato hype is just that. CI emphasizes the importance of adding calcium chloride to the tomatoes to preserve body. Their top picks are as follows, in order of preference:
1. Muir Glen Organic Whole Tomatoes (USA) ($2.99 for 28 oz). Recommended. Firm texture, tastes like a "real summer tomato".
2. Hunt's Whole Plum Tomatoes (USA) ($1.95 for 28 oz.). Meaty, fruity, with bright flavors. Less sweet than Muir Glen.
RECOMMENDED WITH RESERVATIONS
3. Red Gold While Peeld Tomatoes (USA) ($1.36 for 14.5 oz) Firm, bright, sharp flavors.
4. Cento San Marzano Certified Peeled Tomatoes (Italy) ($3.79 for 28 oz) Sweet, lacking in acidity. Best of the Italian Brands
5. Bioanturae Organinc Whole Peeled Tomatoes (USA) ($3.39 for 28.2 oz) Sweet, mushy and flat. Lacking
6. San Marzano Whole Peeled Tomatoes (USA) ($3.99 for 28 oz.) Grown in the USA, this brand is an imposter trying to masquerade
as a true Italian San Marzano tomato. Grown with seeds from Italy. Fruity, light, uninspired.
7. Rienzi Selected Italian Plum Tomatoes (Italy) ($1.95 for 28 oz) Mushy, borderline soupy, uninspired.
8. Eden Whole Roma Tomatoes (USA) ($3.79 for 28 oz.) No real tomato flavor, but clean and light.
9. Pastene San Marzano Tomatoes (Italy) ($4.34 for 28 oz) Weak, thin, but clean and straightforward.
10. Tuttorosso Peeled Plum Shaped Tomatoes (USA) ($1.79 for 28 oz.) Tough, chewy, fibrous.