How to Identify Real San Marzano DOP Tomatoes
San Marzano Tomatoes are one of the most famous tomato varieties in the world. However, because of their fame and special characteristics, many companies try to use the words, "San Marzano" to market their tomatoes which are actually a different variety. To identify a true San Marzano tomato, it's important to understand what they are, what makes them different, and how to read a true DOP label.
What are San Marzano Tomatoes?
San Marzano Tomatoes come from the special San Marzano tomato seed. You may think you can grow a San Marzano anywhere in the world, but part of what makes San Marzano tomatoes so special and unique, is where they are grown - in the Sarnese Nocerino Region outside of Naples in the volcanic soil of Mt. Vesuvius. Rich in nutrients from the volcanic soil and lycopene from the sun and climate, they are sweet, delicate, low in acidity, and contain less seeds than other plum tomatoes.
Much more delicate than a standard Whole Peeled Tomato, the fragility of San Marzano tomatoes makes them much harder to can. In fact, it takes 6 hours to produce the same quantity of San Marzano Tomatoes that you can of Whole Peeled Plum Tomatoes in 1 hour.
What does "DOP" mean?
DOP means "Protected Designation of Origin." In Italy, San Marzano tomatoes must adhere to strict guidelines regarding where and how they are grown and processed. However, the USA does not regulate DOP items to ensure they are authentic which allows for a market heavily saturated with fake products and false DOP declarations.
How can you determine which are real?
There are a few things to keep in mind when identifying if your San Marzano tomatoes are truly San Marzano tomatoes and not a regular plum tomato you are being up-charged for:
- San Marzano Tomatoes are only sold in glass or cans in limited sizes (#10, 28oz)
- San Marzano Tomatoes are only sold whole or in filletes, so labels with "puree," "chopped," "diced," "sauce," or "organic" are fraudulent.
- The can must state, "S. Marzano dell'Agro Sarnese Nocerino D.O.P."
- The can must contain the symbols of the Consorzio and the D.O.P
- The Consorzio also assigns a number to each can, labeled as "N°XXXXXX"
6. A San Marzano tomato should not be plump and firm. Instead, when you look at one out of the can it should be extremely fragile.