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Author Topic: Real vs. Fake San Marzano Tomatoes  (Read 1927 times)

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Offline Pete-zza

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Real vs. Fake San Marzano Tomatoes
« on: June 22, 2017, 10:12:14 AM »
Maybe this helps explain why many members are not big fans of San Marzano tomatoes, whether for pizza or other foods:

http://www.tastecooking.com/fake-rolex-canned-tomatoes/.

Peter

Offline HalfSmoke

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Re: Real vs. Fake San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2017, 10:45:49 AM »
Very interesting! Seems we should view these as suspiciously as most "olive oils."

Offline HarryHaller73

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Re: Real vs. Fake San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2017, 10:53:24 AM »
Maybe this helps explain why many members are not big fans of San Marzano tomatoes, whether for pizza or other foods:

http://www.tastecooking.com/fake-rolex-canned-tomatoes/.

Peter

It's not only an issue of fakes, but San Marzano's don't taste like they once did even legit ones coming from the region.  This is a result of overharvesting past 25 years.  The Italian soils are depleted.  Same has happened with their olives as it did to their grains decades ago.  Most domestic flours in Italy are supplemented with North American or Chinese grain due to lack of protein.



Offline 02ebz06

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Re: Real vs. Fake San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2017, 12:49:52 PM »
Interesting article. Would never have imagined knockoff tomatoes.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Real vs. Fake San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2017, 02:33:33 PM »
In an article that claims 95% of something is fake, it would be nice to see some specific examples. They only example given was of a misleading brand name - not fake SM's. I smell a faint odor of bovine excrement coming from this story.
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Offline pizzaboyfan

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Re: Real vs. Fake San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2017, 03:07:36 PM »
He also states this:

And Castelvetrano is a tiny town in Sicily—there’s no way all those olives are coming from there,

Now,  Castelvetrano is also a species of olives, in addition to being a town.
If you've ever traveled through Sicily, there are olive trees as far as the eye can see, and to suggest that a real Castleventrano needs to be from the town of that name is like saying it's not a
Buffalo wing, unless it comes from Buffalo.

Perry

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Real vs. Fake San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2017, 03:42:56 PM »
In an article that claims 95% of something is fake, it would be nice to see some specific examples. They only example given was of a misleading brand name - not fake SM's. I smell a faint odor of bovine excrement coming from this story.
Craig,

I'm pretty sure that the tomatoes that are grown domestically and were referenced in the article I cited are the ones I discussed at Reply 23 at:

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=20364.msg209250;topicseen#msg209250.

Those of us who have been around the forum for a long time early on got an education on the authentic San Marzano tomatoes from the designated area of Italy. I did a quick search and found one of my posts, dating back to Dec. 2004, on some of the ins and outs of authentic Italian San Marzanos. That post is at Reply 1 at:

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=698.msg6315;topicseen#msg6315.

I noted that the article I cited in starting this thread mentions the Il Miraclo de San Gennaro tomatoes. Those were a favorite of Marco (pizzanapoletana), as he so noted at:

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=2007.msg17690;topicseen#msg17690.

Marco once mentioned that there were other good San Marzano varietal tomatoes that were grown around Naples that did not bear the D.O.P. labels but were equally as good, and he apparently used those quite a bit. My recollection is that there can be a lot of politics among tomato producers in the Naples area as they compete for business.

Peter

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Real vs. Fake San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2017, 04:38:06 PM »
Craig,

I'm pretty sure that the tomatoes that are grown domestically and were referenced in the article I cited are the ones I discussed at Reply 23 at:

I'm sure you're right about that. I was referring to this quote: "To find out more about this crazy widespread canned-tomato fraud, I called up Danielle Aquino Roitmayr at Gustiamo. “We see all these crazy, sketchy things,” she says, sighing. “Italians will send tomatoes to the U.S. with no label, and companies here will put a DOP label on."

San Marzano brand is not an example of that - just a misleading label.
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, baker's yeast when we must, but always great pizza."  
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Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Real vs. Fake San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2017, 05:24:31 PM »
I recall years ago looking into a "San Marzano" tomato product called La Bella, offered by an importer in NJ. As I noted in the last paragraph of Reply 1 at https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=1095.msg9756#msg9756, I had spoken with the importer but could not get him to answer me directly on whether the tomatoes bore the DOP designation. I did a quick check today and it appears that the La Bella tomatoes are still being sold. In fact, there are quite a few of them, as I discovered at Amazon at:

https://www.amazon.com/La-Bella-San-Marzano/b/ref=bl_dp_s_web_3033253011?ie=UTF8&node=3033253011&field-lbr_brands_browse-bin=La+Bella+San+Marzano.

The descriptions of some of the canned La Bella San Marzano tomatoes make reference to being imported directly from Italy and having been grown in the Agro Nocerino Region or having been "Grown and packed in San Marzano Valley, Italy", but I could not find evidence of DOP certification on any of the labels that I could read or any other text material at the Amazon website. However, I did see the following statement with respect to one of the La Bella tomatoes: "La Bella San Marzano tomatoes are grown in the Agro Nocerino region, the area best known for D.O.P. Certified San Marzano Tomatoes. " However, that doesn't necessarily mean that their tomatoes bear the DOP certification. In that vein, one reviewer said that there was no evidence on the label of the La Bellas that that reviewer tried that the tomatoes were DOP certified, and a couple of reviewers said that the La Bella tomatoes they tried were not the real deal. It sounds to me like the La Bella importer is still shifty after all of these years :-D.

I should add that Marco commented on San Marzano tomatoes in Reply 1 cited above, and that other members also commented nicely on the subject in the same thread.

Peter

Offline parallei

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Re: Real vs. Fake San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2017, 05:42:50 PM »

My recollection is that there can be a lot of politics among tomato producers in the Naples area as they compete for business.

Peter

That is a very politic way of putting it, Peter.  Organized crime runs the whole show in that part of Italy.  Has for ever, and probably always will.

I'll have to paraphrase, but I remember reading someone's quip to the effect that if Italy actually produced all the mozzarella di bufala they exported, there wouldn't be the physical room for any other agricultural products.

I avoid food products from mainland China for product safety concerns, and more and more from Italy for ethical concerns.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2017, 06:22:40 PM by parallei »

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Offline norma427

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Re: Real vs. Fake San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2017, 06:19:35 PM »
Peter,

I read that article today.  Will see if my San Marzano tomatoes are any good.

Norma

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Real vs. Fake San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2017, 06:38:12 PM »
Peter,

I read that article today.  Will see if my San Marzano tomatoes are any good.

Norma
Norma,

Fresh tomatoes are always good, especially when compared what you get in supermarkets. And that should also be the case with your San Marzano tomatoes. But unless you have volcanic soil in your backyard, your San Marzanos are likely to be different than those grown in the Naples area near Vesuvius. In any event, I am sure that many of us will be interested in how yours turn out.

Peter

Offline norma427

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Re: Real vs. Fake San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2017, 08:11:19 PM »
Norma,

Fresh tomatoes are always good, especially when compared what you get in supermarkets. And that should also be the case with your San Marzano tomatoes. But unless you have volcanic soil in your backyard, your San Marzanos are likely to be different than those grown in the Naples area near Vesuvius. In any event, I am sure that many of us will be interested in how yours turn out.

Peter

Peter,

Maybe the seashells and other related sea stuff will help my San Marzanos.   :-D  I don't have any volcanic soil in my backyard though.  All of the tomatoes so far are bigger than normal for this time of the year.

Norma

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Real vs. Fake San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2017, 09:08:53 PM »
Norma,

In France, wine makers give a lot of credit for the character and quality of their wines to the soil, which they refer to as terroir. And that terroir can vary from one part of France to another. For example, there is a part of France called Graves, so named because of its very gravelly soil--the result of glaciers from the Ice Age. Some of the most expensive and valued wines in the world come from Graves. A good example is the wine Chateau Haut-Brion. Many years ago, when I read the story about that wine and its related soil type, I thought that I might like it. However, when I tried that wine, I did not care for it. So, I did not buy any more.

As you can see from the Wikipedia entry on terroir at https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terroiri, it can also apply to tomatoes. So if you have seashells in your soil, they can affect the character and quality of your tomatoes. But, just as wine makers in the U.S. thought--unsuccessfully as it turned out--that they could replicate French wines by using French grape plants in the U.S., it is equally unlikely that one can replicate the San Marzano tomatoes grown in the Vesuvius soil in Italy by growing that variety in U.S. soil. But, as I said earlier, the tomatoes should still be good tomatoes from a quality standpoint. So when your family and friends compliment you on the quality of your tomatoes, you can tell them, in your best French accent: "It's the terroir". ;D

Peter

Offline norma427

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Re: Real vs. Fake San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2017, 11:00:42 PM »
Norma,

In France, wine makers give a lot of credit for the character and quality of their wines to the soil, which they refer to as terroir. And that terroir can vary from one part of France to another. For example, there is a part of France called Graves, so named because of its very gravelly soil--the result of glaciers from the Ice Age. Some of the most expensive and valued wines in the world come from Graves. A good example is the wine Chateau Haut-Brion. Many years ago, when I read the story about that wine and its related soil type, I thought that I might like it. However, when I tried that wine, I did not care for it. So, I did not buy any more.

As you can see from the Wikipedia entry on terroir at https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terroiri, it can also apply to tomatoes. So if you have seashells in your soil, they can affect the character and quality of your tomatoes. But, just as wine makers in the U.S. thought--unsuccessfully as it turned out--that they could replicate French wines by using French grape plants in the U.S., it is equally unlikely that one can replicate the San Marzano tomatoes grown in the Vesuvius soil in Italy by growing that variety in U.S. soil. But, as I said earlier, the tomatoes should still be good tomatoes from a quality standpoint. So when your family and friends compliment you on the quality of your tomatoes, you can tell them, in your best French accent: "It's the terroir". ;D

Peter

Peter,

Thanks for giving me a lesson on wine makers in France and the quality of their soils, which they refer to as terroir.  Interesting that the terroir can vary from one place to another.  What was it about the Chateau Haut-Brion that you didn't like? 

There are many vineyards near where I live but they don't produce the kinds of wine you like.  Also many farms that produce many kinds of things.

I see from your link that the terroir can also apply to tomatoes.  I guess I am not trying to replicate the San Marzano tomatoes grown in the Vesuvius soil in Italy.  Just trying to have good San Marzano tomatoes. My family would flip if I said the word terroir.  They know I am not fancy in my words.  :-D

Norma   

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Offline csnack

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Re: Real vs. Fake San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #15 on: June 23, 2017, 03:23:19 AM »
I'll sort this tomato deal later. I'm still working on getting water shipped to me from ny.

Offline HarryHaller73

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Re: Real vs. Fake San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #16 on: June 23, 2017, 08:27:04 AM »
Peter,

Maybe the seashells and other related sea stuff will help my San Marzanos.   :-D  I don't have any volcanic soil in my backyard though.  All of the tomatoes so far are bigger than normal for this time of the year.

Norma

Tomato flavor and characteristics has almost all to do with genetics, and not so much soil.  A tomato strain either grows well or it doesn't in a certain type of soil. 
San marzano strains have been modified over the years to increase crop size, which has affected flavor, negatively.  The main reason to increase yield for increasing demand.
The other was that the original strains were susceptible to disease and suffered from depleted soils.  And since the quality of san marzanos have gone down, they hide fakes in there thinking people won't notice. 
Restaurants and distributors have moved over to Mexican/CA plums (which is where the San Marzano strain originated) for superior quality.

Same goes for olive oil and wine.  The next scandal will be the fake wine controversy which is rampant in France and Italy, where they mix in cheaper wines and sell for premium via label.

« Last Edit: June 23, 2017, 08:48:48 AM by HarryHaller73 »

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Real vs. Fake San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #17 on: June 23, 2017, 08:41:08 AM »
What was it about the Chateau Haut-Brion that you didn't like? 

Norma
Norma,

It was so long ago that I really don't remember what it was about that wine that I didn't like. I liked the wines from other locations better so I had many other choices to pick from.

Peter


Offline norma427

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Re: Real vs. Fake San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #18 on: June 23, 2017, 09:06:28 AM »
Tomato flavor and characteristics has almost all to do with genetics, and not so much soil.  A tomato strain either grows well or it doesn't in a certain type of soil. 
San marzano strains have been modified over the years to increase crop size, which has affected flavor, negatively.  The main reason to increase yield for increasing demand.
The other was that the original strains were susceptible to disease and suffered from depleted soils.  And since the quality of san marzanos have gone down, they hide fakes in there thinking people won't notice. 
Restaurants and distributors have moved over to Mexican/CA plums (which is where the San Marzano strain originated) for superior quality.

Same goes for olive oil and wine.  The next scandal will be the fake wine controversy which is rampant in France and Italy, where they mix in cheaper wines and sell for premium via label.

HarryHaller73,

Thanks for you explanations.  I see San Marzano tomatoes have changed over the years.

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/varieties-san-marzano-tomato-86784.html

Will wait and see if my San Marzano tomatoes have any taste.

I am also growing Jet Star tomatoes, but know they probably won't taste anything like the Jet Star tomatoes that are grown in Washington Boro.  Washington Boro is close to where I live but they have a totally different kind of soil to grow their Jet Star tomatoes.

https://reallancastercounty.com/markets-2/roadside-farm-markets/tomato-barn/

Norma

Offline HarryHaller73

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Re: Real vs. Fake San Marzano Tomatoes
« Reply #19 on: June 23, 2017, 09:13:34 AM »
HarryHaller73,

Thanks for you explanations.  I see San Marzano tomatoes have changed over the years.

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/varieties-san-marzano-tomato-86784.html

Will wait and see if my San Marzano tomatoes have any taste.

I am also growing Jet Star tomatoes, but know they probably won't taste anything like the Jet Star tomatoes that are grown in Washington Boro.  Washington Boro is close to where I live but they have a totally different kind of soil to grow their Jet Star tomatoes.

https://reallancastercounty.com/markets-2/roadside-farm-markets/tomato-barn/

Norma

If it fruits well, it should taste how your particular marzano strain is meant to taste.   A different soil will not change it's genetic characteristics like a Marzano will never taste super sweet no matter what you do.    I took NJ hybrid Super Fantastic seeds and planted in my CA home in past, they taste exactly the same as they do in the Northeast. 

My neighbor often asked me how my tomatoes grow so nice and taste so sweet, and asked me what fertilizer I used, I just told him I did nothing but water them,  that they were simply hybrid Jersey tomatoes.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2017, 09:18:24 AM by HarryHaller73 »

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