Author Topic: What brand of San Marzano tomatoes do you use?  (Read 6395 times)

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Offline Chaze215

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What brand of San Marzano tomatoes do you use?
« on: May 29, 2013, 07:04:41 AM »
It seems like every brand now carries "San Marzano" tomatoes, but are they really San Marzano? So for use on Neapolitan pies (or other), which do you use? Do you look for DOP designation?
Thanks in advance!

Chaz
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Offline derricktung

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Re: What brand of San Marzano tomatoes do you use?
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2013, 11:58:30 AM »
Honestly, we tested a few different types of San Marzano's as well as other tomatoes and the taste testers decided they prefer the 7/11 brand more than anything else. 

So we're going "Neo-Neapolitan" instead.  I'll be curious what others use though, so I can do another run of taste tests to see how the traditional San Marzano's hold up against the current brand we plan to use..

Offline dmcavanagh

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Re: What brand of San Marzano tomatoes do you use?
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2013, 10:40:44 AM »
I don't use San Marzano tomatoes, I feel they are highly overrated and overpriced. We have great tomatoes in the USA from California and New Jersey, keep the $$$ at home.
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Offline R2-Bayou

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Re: What brand of San Marzano tomatoes do you use?
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2013, 12:35:43 PM »
I love supporting the domestic options from California and NJ, especially the Jersey Fresh Crushed Tomatoes..

However, I get a deal on cases of Rega San Marzano, DOP. They are by far the best I have tasted, but very expensive retail. If I didn't have access through a wholesaler I couldn't justify them. But man, they're great. I only use them on my Neapolitan style pies. I use 6-in-1 for my NY style pies...
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Offline Chaze215

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Re: What brand of San Marzano tomatoes do you use?
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2013, 02:45:12 PM »
I love the NJ crushed tomatoes and I'm a fan of Sclafani crushed. However, I think it would be sacrilegious to use them on a Neapolitan pie, no?  ;D
Chaz

scott123

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Re: What brand of San Marzano tomatoes do you use?
« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2013, 04:49:48 PM »
I don't use San Marzano tomatoes, I feel they are highly overrated and overpriced. We have great tomatoes in the USA from California and New Jersey, keep the $$$ at home.

I share a similar feeling, except, for me, it's not just SMs but all Italian tomatoes. I'm still holding out hope that there's a brand of Italian tomatoes that matches up with the flavor of NJ tomatoes, but I have yet to come across it. The ROA1s that a lot of the NP folks on this forum enjoy just don't compare.

At least, I feel that way in the context of the style of pizza I make.  If I made Neapolitan pizza, I might taste a far greater number of SMs than I've tasted in the past in hopes of finding that elusive flavorful winner. Or I also, within the more delicate flavor of a Neapolitan pie, might opt for the ROA1s. Maybe.

But, right now, for NY style, it's California or NJ.

scott123

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Re: What brand of San Marzano tomatoes do you use?
« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2013, 04:57:19 PM »
I love the NJ crushed tomatoes and I'm a fan of Sclafani crushed. However, I think it would be sacrilegious to use them on a Neapolitan pie, no?  ;D

That's a tough question.  If you were opening a Neapolitan pizzeria, I think NJ tomatoes would be frowned upon from an authenticity perspective, but, at home... it should be less about authenticity and what tastes best.  For the SMs that I've tried, Sclafanis tend to be about 3 times as flavorful (if I had to pick a number ranking flavor intensity).

It's not just about intensity, though.  NJ tomatoes taste noticeably different than Italian tomatoes.  As I said, it's tough.  I would continue on your SM quest, but, at the same time, I would definitely try a couple NP pies made with Sclafanis and see how you like them.

Offline Chaze215

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Re: What brand of San Marzano tomatoes do you use?
« Reply #7 on: May 31, 2013, 07:35:18 PM »
I plan on doing a lot of experimenting when I have the right setup to do so. I can't achieve a Neapolitan pie in my home oven. But I'm hoping to soon have a wfo to do my experimenting  ;D I agree with you that it would be frowned upon serving NJ tomatoes to the masses. However, I'm sure the majority would not care if it tasted great...and probably wouldn't know the difference anyway.
Chaz

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Re: What brand of San Marzano tomatoes do you use?
« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2013, 08:22:47 PM »
That's a tough question.  If you were opening a Neapolitan pizzeria, I think NJ tomatoes would be frowned upon from an authenticity perspective

If they are good, who cares where they come from? Who is going to know anyway? If you're not VPN, there is no reason I can think of to use SM unless you can't find anything better.
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Offline Chaze215

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Re: What brand of San Marzano tomatoes do you use?
« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2013, 08:52:04 PM »
If they are good, who cares where they come from? Who is going to know anyway? If you're not VPN, there is no reason I can think of to use SM unless you can't find anything better.

I agree with you. Do you use SM Craig or have you found something better?
Chaz


scott123

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Re: What brand of San Marzano tomatoes do you use?
« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2013, 09:33:05 PM »
If they are good, who cares where they come from? Who is going to know anyway? If you're not VPN, there is no reason I can think of to use SM unless you can't find anything better.

Craig, I don't make that VPN/by the book vs. non VPN/anything goes distinction.  As soon as you use the 'Neapolitan' label, you have a duty towards authenticity, towards proper cultural representation. This means sub 90 second bakes and San Marzanos. If someone doesn't want to use San Marzanos, they can drop the Neapolitan label.  Paulie Gee, for instance, makes an extremely Neapolitan-ish pie, but he wants the freedom to use whatever ingredients and thus avoids calling his pies Neapolitan.  From tasting Paulie's tomatoes, I think there's a good chance the tomatoes are part of the non Neapolitan equation (along with the crazy toppings).  Bianco and Varasano are in this same group.

With or without VPN, 'Neapolitan' is a standard. If a place uses it and ignores the traditional specs, frowns will occur.  Now, I might not have said who will be frowning- it might end up being just me, but it will happen  ;D

Now, within the general scheme of things, non SMs are a lot less egregious violations than a 3 minute bake, but it's still a departure from the standard. Also, as I said before, NJ tomatoes are a lot more intensely flavored than Italian, but they're also different.  Many people wouldn't be able to detect the difference, but I'm sure that we could.

Omit the label, the sky's the limit.  Call your pizza 'Neapolitan,' though, and you answer to the obsessives.

And, just to be clear, I'm talking about NJ vs. SMs, not your Centos vs. SMs.  Your Centos are as SMish as any SM that I've ever had. I would hope that, should you ever go the certification route, whoever's certifying you wouldn't bat an eyelash at the Centos.

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Re: What brand of San Marzano tomatoes do you use?
« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2013, 10:17:10 PM »
Craig, I don't make that VPN/by the book vs. non VPN/anything goes distinction.  As soon as you use the 'Neapolitan' label, you have a duty towards authenticity, towards proper cultural representation. This means sub 90 second bakes and San Marzanos. If someone doesn't want to use San Marzanos, they can drop the Neapolitan label.  Paulie Gee, for instance, makes an extremely Neapolitan-ish pie, but he wants the freedom to use whatever ingredients and thus avoids calling his pies Neapolitan.  From tasting Paulie's tomatoes, I think there's a good chance the tomatoes are part of the non Neapolitan equation (along with the crazy toppings).  Bianco and Varasano are in this same group.

With or without VPN, 'Neapolitan' is a standard. If a place uses it and ignores the traditional specs, frowns will occur.  Now, I might not have said who will be frowning- it might end up being just me, but it will happen  ;D

Now, within the general scheme of things, non SMs are a lot less egregious violations than a 3 minute bake, but it's still a departure from the standard. Also, as I said before, NJ tomatoes are a lot more intensely flavored than Italian, but they're also different.  Many people wouldn't be able to detect the difference, but I'm sure that we could.

Omit the label, the sky's the limit.  Call your pizza 'Neapolitan,' though, and you answer to the obsessives.

And, just to be clear, I'm talking about NJ vs. SMs, not your Centos vs. SMs.  Your Centos are as SMish as any SM that I've ever had. I would hope that, should you ever go the certification route, whoever's certifying you wouldn't bat an eyelash at the Centos.

I reject the idea that one must used SM's in order to call their pie NP. Not VPN, fine. Not NP, not fine. I'm calling BS. To honor NP, my duty is to the art, to transform the ingredients into a thing of beauty that feeds the stomach as well as the soul; this means maximizing quality within the spirit of the tradition. Strict adherence at the cost of quality does not honor the art in my opinion. 

00 flour, sub-90 (or even better sub-60) bakes, no oil or sugar - these things which are traditional also maximize quality. I have not seen anything that is better.  If the SM tomato doesn't also maximize quality, it must be rejected.  It makes no sense to make a sub-optimal pie in the name of "authenticity."

With respect to Varasano and Bianco, their choice of tomato is pretty far down the list of things that deviate from NP.

BTW - a good friend on the East coast just sent me a couple cans of NJ tomatoes...
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Offline Chaze215

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Re: What brand of San Marzano tomatoes do you use?
« Reply #12 on: May 31, 2013, 10:26:56 PM »
Craig, what kind of NJ tomatoes did he/she send you? Please report back on what you thought of them.
Chaz

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Re: What brand of San Marzano tomatoes do you use?
« Reply #13 on: May 31, 2013, 10:30:08 PM »
Sclafani Crushed. They theory is that the crushed are made from the very ripest tomatoes. I don't know if there is any truth to that or not. I'll let you know when I open them up.
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Offline Chaze215

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Re: What brand of San Marzano tomatoes do you use?
« Reply #14 on: May 31, 2013, 10:51:25 PM »
Sclafani Crushed. They theory is that the crushed are made from the very ripest tomatoes. I don't know if there is any truth to that or not. I'll let you know when I open them up.

Sclafani crushed are my favorite. I'm curious to see what you think of them...especially on a Neapolitan pie and compared to the Cento you use.
Chaz

scott123

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Re: What brand of San Marzano tomatoes do you use?
« Reply #15 on: May 31, 2013, 11:30:07 PM »
I reject the idea that one must used SM's in order to call their pie NP. Not VPN, fine. Not NP, not fine. I'm calling BS. To honor NP, my duty is to the art, to transform the ingredients into a thing of beauty that feeds the stomach as well as the soul; this means maximizing quality within the spirit of the tradition. Strict adherence at the cost of quality does not honor the art in my opinion. 

00 flour, sub-90 (or even better sub-60) bakes, no oil or sugar - these things which are traditional also maximize quality. I have not seen anything that is better.  If the SM tomato doesn't also maximize quality, it must be rejected.  It makes no sense to make a sub-optimal pie in the name of "authenticity."

Craig, first of all, I never equated non SMs with higher quality.  The NJ tomatoes are more flavorful, but I'm not necessarily saying that more flavor is better.

Secondly, everyone can have a duty to their art, but art is subjective.  Someone can come along and say "3 minute bakes speak to my soul, 3 minute bakes are Neapolitan," but that won't mean that Neapolitan pizza should be baked for 3 minutes.  The objective facet to this equation is that Neapolitan pizza comes from Naples, where, for at least 50 years, it's been made with SMs.  Subjectively, we can do whatever we please however we please, but, you and I (or anyone else on this forum) doesn't have the right to redefine a product that the Neapolitans have cultivated and own.

If you came up with a way to make a better sparkling wine, that's fine, but you can't call it Champagne.  Just because the Champagne makers are better policemen than the Neapolitan pizza associations doesn't mean that Neapolitan history gets binned.

These are our pizza ancestors we're talking about here.  We don't have to carve their likenesses into wood and make altars, but we do need to show reverence, and that reverence is shown in respecting the standards that generations of Neapolitans have honed into the highest of arts.

Absolutely, find a better tomato, improve on the original, transform souls, just maintain an awareness of those that came before you and allow them their name.  There's so many more names, so many more cities that one can choose, while still being reverential of the original.

Houstapolitan?  Texapolitan? ;D

scott123

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Re: What brand of San Marzano tomatoes do you use?
« Reply #16 on: May 31, 2013, 11:39:16 PM »
Sclafani Crushed. They theory is that the crushed are made from the very ripest tomatoes. I don't know if there is any truth to that or not. I'll let you know when I open them up.

I had forgotten about this, but it makes perfect sense.  My more-flavor-may-not-be-better premise when looking at NJ vs. Italian tomatoes most likely stems, in large part, due to the fact that my NJ tomatoes are crushed/ really ripe, possibly even a bit overripe, and that the Italian whole tomatoes I've had leaned towards underripe, with a corresponding cucumbery-ish flavor. The crushed sclafani's are very sweet.

Like Chaz, I will be very curious as to your feelings on the sclafanis. 

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Re: What brand of San Marzano tomatoes do you use?
« Reply #17 on: May 31, 2013, 11:49:19 PM »
I had forgotten about this, but it makes perfect sense.  My more-flavor-may-not-be-better premise when looking at NJ vs. Italian tomatoes most likely stems, in large part, due to the fact that my NJ tomatoes are crushed/ really ripe, possibly even a bit overripe, and that the Italian whole tomatoes I've had leaned towards underripe, with a corresponding cucumbery-ish flavor. The crushed sclafani's are very sweet.

Like Chaz, I will be very curious as to your feelings on the sclafanis.
He said cucumbery-ish....... ;D
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Re: What brand of San Marzano tomatoes do you use?
« Reply #18 on: June 01, 2013, 12:02:16 AM »
Craig, first of all, I never equated non SMs with higher quality.  The NJ tomatoes are more flavorful, but I'm not necessarily saying that more flavor is better.

Secondly, everyone can have a duty to their art, but art is subjective.  Someone can come along and say "3 minute bakes speak to my soul, 3 minute bakes are Neapolitan," but that won't mean that Neapolitan pizza should be baked for 3 minutes.  The objective facet to this equation is that Neapolitan pizza comes from Naples, where, for at least 50 years, it's been made with SMs.  Subjectively, we can do whatever we please however we please, but, you and I (or anyone else on this forum) doesn't have the right to redefine a product that the Neapolitans have cultivated and own.

If you came up with a way to make a better sparkling wine, that's fine, but you can't call it Champagne.  Just because the Champagne makers are better policemen than the Neapolitan pizza associations doesn't mean that Neapolitan history gets binned.

These are our pizza ancestors we're talking about here.  We don't have to carve their likenesses into wood and make altars, but we do need to show reverence, and that reverence is shown in respecting the standards that generations of Neapolitans have honed into the highest of arts.

Absolutely, find a better tomato, improve on the original, transform souls, just maintain an awareness of those that came before you and allow them their name.  There's so many more names, so many more cities that one can choose, while still being reverential of the original.

Houstapolitan?  Texapolitan? ;D

Nope; still not buying it. If you want to apply the Champagne standard, you can't make NP outside of Naples period - even if you do everything identically.

You may be able to bake a 3 minute pie that is better than any NP. I haven't had it, but maybe it's possible, but it's not NP because it will be very different in character. Maybe there are SM tomatoes better than the non-SMs I use, but that does me no good. Using the best tomato available doesn't change the character of the pie. And note that if the flavor of the tomato is such that it changes the character of the pie, it's not the best tomato. And someone can say they bake 3 minute NP. They can say whatever they want. It's a free country. Their 3 minute NP and $3.50 will get them a cup of coffee at Starbucks.  ;)
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scott123

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Re: What brand of San Marzano tomatoes do you use?
« Reply #19 on: June 01, 2013, 01:10:02 AM »
Nope; still not buying it. If you want to apply the Champagne standard, you can't make NP outside of Naples period - even if you do everything identically.

You may be able to bake a 3 minute pie that is better than any NP. I haven't had it, but maybe it's possible, but it's not NP because it will be very different in character. Maybe there are SM tomatoes better than the non-SMs I use, but that does me no good. Using the best tomato available doesn't change the character of the pie. And note that if the flavor of the tomato is such that it changes the character of the pie, it's not the best tomato. And someone can say they bake 3 minute NP. They can say whatever they want. It's a free country. Their 3 minute NP and $3.50 will get them a cup of coffee at Starbucks.  ;)

I'm not applying the champagne standard.  I've already pointed out the far stricter nature in which the French police their product.  The Champagne producers say "this is our cultural treasure, generations have toiled to make it the work of art that it is today, it is the foundation of our regional pride, if you try to appropriate it, we'll litigate you off the face of the earth."  On the other hand, the far friendlier Italians are saying "this is our cultural treasure, generations have toiled to make this work of art, it is the foundation of our regional pride, here's the recipe, make it, feed your souls- Live blissful lives.  All we ask is that you honor our culture and our history by not redefining it."

Instead of French lawyers sending you cease and desist orders, the Neapolitans are asking you politely. There's an honor code. It's like a farm stand that leaves change in a basket and expects you to pay for your fruit when no one's around.  Just because they're not standing over you with an armed guard doesn't mean that you shouldn't have to pay.  We owe Neapolitans.  Without them, we don't have this work of art. By passing regional and EU legislation, they're not asking for our firstborn- they're just gently suggesting that the rest of the world consider this masterpiece's roots, and to act accordingly.

I'm not sure why you're so opposed to this Craig.  As I said before, your Centos are as authentically Neapolitan as they can possibly be.  With the pizzas you make, your oven adventures, and all the advice you've spent countless hours giving, I'd be hard pressed to find a more able ambassador for Neapolitan pizza. You've taken the bare bones letter of VPN and applied a spirit that's catapulted your art out of the stratosphere. You're the living embodiment of authentic and perfect.  With you it's not a question of authenticity/inauthenticity, but, rather, how many years it will take the Neapolitans to build a statue in your honor in one of their piazzas.  You might be saying to yourself "I'm not fighting a cause, I'm just making food that I like to eat," but the reality is that you're one of the most able bodied soldiers the movement has probably ever seen.

Paging Mr Solo, Mr Han Solo ;D
« Last Edit: June 01, 2013, 01:33:49 AM by scott123 »


 

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