Anatomy of a Tomato

Not all tomatoes are created equal. Although, many tomatoes are similar. While there are many varieties of tomatoes, most can be categorized by shape, color, and density. Some tomatoes are wonderful for slicing and eating fresh, others are more suited for use in sauces. Beefsteak tomatoes for example are fantastic fresh, and on sandwiches, while we prefer a plum type of tomato for our sauces. The main reason is water content and meatiness of the interior of the tomato. A plum type tomato has less water content and more meat inside than most other tomatoes. You've no doubt seen tomatoes referred to as "San Marzano" tomatoes in supermarkets and online. These tomatoes are usually incorrectly labeled as such, in fact, some companies were sued because of this mis-labeling. San Marzano is in fact a region in Italy, well know for their plum shaped tomatoes, and, if the tomatoes are not actually grown in this region, they're simply not San Marzano tomatoes. The scientific name (and the only correct name) is, Solanum lycopersicum. 

pasta sauce tomatoes ripe on the vine

The reason this is important, at least to us is because Solanum lycopersicum can be grown just about anywhere with a suitable climate, however, the true San Marzano tomato has a different taste profile when grown in San Marzano Italy. The reason for this difference is because San Marzano is situated in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius and has volcanic soil which is rich in nutrients. So, the only true San Marzano tomatoes will have a D.O.P. designation on the can, this stands for "protected designation of origin" and without this stamp, it is not from this region.

So why all the fuss over San Marzano tomatoes, that's a good question. They're good, no doubt, however, much of the soil in that small region of Italy has been turned so many times that it's not a nutrient rich as it once was. In fact, our partner farms don't plant in the same sections every year, they alternate for this exact reason. So what's better than a San Marzano? In our opinion, a Jersey tomato is, that's why we use them! Our partner farms in NJ grow amazing plum style tomatoes perfectly suited for pasta sauce. Sweet, meaty, and not overly acidic, they're beautiful! 


Italo's pasta sauce farm house

Italo's pasta sauce tomato farm

pasta sauce on the vine

sampling the pasta sauce tomatoes

big tractor used to harvest our pasta sauce tomatoes

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