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How to recognise the real San Marzano Tomatoes - Feast Italy

How to recognise the real San Marzano Tomatoes

San Marzano tomatoes are renowned for their sweet, low acidity, and pulpy nature, making them perfect for creating flavorful sauces.

According to the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, the true and original Neapolitan pizza can only be made using San Marzano tomatoes; no other variety will suffice.

Many questions surround San Marzano tomatoes: What sets them apart? Why are they more expensive? And how can you distinguish the real ones from the "fake" ones?

To provide some background, San Marzano tomatoes first appeared around 1770 when the Viceroyalty of Peru gifted some seeds to the Kingdom of Naples. They were planted in the San Marzano sul Sarno area, in the volcanic soil near Mount Vesuvius—the same volcano responsible for the destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum in AD 79.

The connection between the tomatoes and the land goes beyond the name of the location. The volcanic soil, microclimate, and sea breeze from the Gulf of Naples all contribute to the unique flavor profile of San Marzano tomatoes.

In Italy, the name "San Marzano" must adhere to strict "protected designation of origin" (DOP) guidelines, which dictate where they must be grown and how they are processed.

Unfortunately, countless counterfeits are on the market. The DOP designation is not recognized worldwide, so it's easy to find San Marzano tomatoes from California, China, and other locations.

To identify real San Marzano tomatoes, consider the following:

1. San Marzano tomatoes are certified only if they are sold whole or as fillets, peeled, and canned.

2. The Agro Sarnese-Nocerino region between Naples and Salerno is the designated DOP area for San Marzano tomatoes. You can request certification from producers to verify if they are using one of these designated lots.

3. Look for certification seals from the consortium, indicating both DOP status and a certification number on the tin.

4. If the price seems too low, it is unlikely to be the real deal.

Agroqualità is the authority that oversees the designated lots, and each production is assigned a serial number. Our producer, Italianavera, is registered with Agroqualità under the number CI04.

So, if you're wondering whether the San Marzano tomatoes you have are the real deal, the answer is a resounding YES! And they are incredibly delicious.
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