Buy Real San Marzano Tomatoes… from a Merchant You Trust

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The president of the Cosorzio San Marzano says that at least 95% of the San Marzano tomatoes in America are not San Marzano.

How do you make sure they are?

First thing you do, you check the tin’s label: it MUST say “Pomodoro San Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese Nocerino D.O.P.“; 6a00e55029641d8834014e8aace16c970d-800wi

it MUST have the symbol of the Consorzio; it MUST have the symbol of the DOP;

6a00e55029641d8834015390b99585970b-800wi it MUST have a “N° XXXXXXX”, which is the Number assigned to the tin by the Consorzio.

But even if all of these apply, the President of the Consorzio says they have seen cases where labels were printed NOT in Italy, completely fake. Of course! Who is here in the USA to watch??? Very complicated!!! So, what do you do?

As always, best thing is to shop from a merchant you trust!!! And look at the price. If it is too good to be true, it is not true!!!

Also, beware that the Consorzio says that San Marzano tomatoes can only come in tins; the tomatoes can only be peeled whole or fillets. Therefore, Edoardo says that if you see the words “puree”, “sauce”, “chopped”, “diced”, “organic” (also, not regulated by the Consorzio) on the labels, they cannot be San Marzano. Very complicated. Have questions? Send a picture of the label of your San Marzano and we’ll ask the President of the Consorzio what he thinks.

63 Comments Add yours

  1. Terry Larsen says:

    I agree that San Marzano tomatoes make all the difference and this is a topic that really makes me mad. Consumers should not be lied to.. and the Italian farmers should be protected. I want the real thing! Can you tell me if the Cento San Marzano tomatoes are authentically San Marzano? They are distributed by Cento Fine Foods Inc, West Deptford New Jersey. http://www.cento.com/sanmarzano/sanmarzano.html

  2. Percy says:

    And, in the end, I don’t think they are that worth it.

    1. Christopher Robert says:

      Not worth it? Do you even know why San Marzano’s are considered by top professionals to be the best plum tomato in the world?

  3. Don Trask says:

    Cento is the market leader in San Marzano tomatoes! Simply the best!!!

    1. karen says:

      i do not find any cento d.o.p. anymore…in fact amazon and walmart had them on their site…but when received where not…just certified….know where can buy them…online or in illinois…i cannot find them

      i read the above..to identify authentic san marzano tomatoes. i was always told they need 3 stamps/seals…they do not???? thanks

      1. Bob says:

        Caputo’s – Grand & Harlem
        Lake St in Addison
        Lake st in Bloomingdale

    2. Dee says:

      Cento are NOT true San Marzano tomatoes. If you look on the can, they’re made in the U.S.A.

      1. Aaron Mead says:

        There are two: CENTO USA owns a farm that produces San Marzano type tomatos grown in italy. They also produce a D.O.P. sanctioned variety that says so on the label. It has all the requirements.

        Unfortunately they both look similar next to each other and you have to look for the markings to make sure you are getting the real deal. Also, you should be paying much less for the non D.O.P. version.

        1. barb says:

          My can says “certified”, product of Italy and it is distributed by Cento Fine Food in nj.

  4. Shannon says:

    Cento is the only brand of San Marzano carried in my supermarket (in upstate NY). Are these authentic?

    1. karen says:

      i cannot find anyone that sells these…..stores or online….amazon advertised as d.o.p…were not…….walmart did the same…they were not…

      anyone…know where to get these online….i am in chicago..so if any place sells them..appreciate the info…

    2. Dee says:

      No. They’re made in the U.S.A. They are not DOP certified. If the can says “product of the U.S.A.” they are not true San Marzano’s.

    3. Linda Messina says:

      Yes they are. Cento Tomatoes are grown and picked in the most fertile San Marzano dirt in Italy. They are then shipped for processing to the USA. The can says Certified but no longer says DOP Certified

      1. Beatrice says:

        Cara Linda, grazie for your comment! The consortium of DOP San Marzano says that the word “certified” has nothing to do with them. A “certified” San Marzano does not exist. The tomato is either DOP or it is not a San marzano. It might be an exquisite tomato, but it is illegal to call it “San Marzano”. Therefore, it is not authentic. Hope I was clear. Thank you again, for your contribution to this interesting conversation.

      2. Paolo Ruggiero says:

        cento fake 100%100 STOP!
        Being Called to San Marzano tomatoes must cultivate and Working exclusively in Salerno END NAPLES

  5. Ciao a tutti! Thank you for your comments. I agree with you all, this is a very upsetting issue and also complicated. If you doubt the can of tomatoes you have in your pantry or you see in your supermarket is REAL San Marzano, take pictures of the label (see the pictures in the post: number, symbol of dop and consorzio…) and post them on our facebook page (https://www.facesbook.com/gustiamo). The president of the Consorzio of San Marzano Tomatoes (the body that protects their good name) will reply to everybody. Grazie mille!

  6. MeGo says:

    That link is completely incorrect and will get you nowhere!
    This will work:
    http://www.facebook.com/gustiamo
    Buon appetito!

  7. kory says:

    What if you grow your own San Marzanos? Do they not qualify as they were not grown in the Mother Country?

    1. Dee says:

      Nope. The soil content in where they are grown in Italy is what gives them the sweetness and acidity that only TRUE San Marzano’s have.

  8. geoffrey swain says:

    Come on folks! By the time you have prepared your Bolognese type sauce do you really think the authenticity of a tomato will make the difference?. Your cooking frailties will most probably be found wanting.Maybe it is your Italian heritage that is vulnerable….or your Irish whisky heritage aura. Olive oil produced here in Algarve leaves in Spanish tankers, and probably arrives in Italy for labelling as Italian.As long as it is unadulterated olive oil, does it really matter where it is produced. They play on origin to market ‘as better’their products. An olive is an olive at the end of the day. Same as tomatoes. It is what and how you deal with the article that makes most difference.

    1. Dee says:

      Obviously, you’ve never cooked with San Marzano tomatoes. @@

  9. As someone who cooks both in Italy and in the USA I can tell you 100% that there is a huge difference when cooking between using San Marzano tomatoes or a cheaper alternative. I had this experience recently while in the States. I wanted to make Amatriciana for my family and so headed to Whole Foods and picked up a can of what I thought were San Marzano tomatoes imported from Italy. Not only were they hugely expensive, once I got them home they were watery and completely tasteless. The resulting sauce (not surprisingly) was bland and missing the tomato element that is so essential.
    So, to answer Geoffrey above: Since Bolognese doesn’t really have tomatoes in it, then you probably won’t notice the difference. But if you are making a tomato based dish, the difference is HUGE.

    1. regis says:

      Couldn`t agree more, Elisabeth.

    2. Dana says:

      Thank you for clearing that up, Elizabeth. That’s what I was hoping to hear. Makes sense. 🙂

  10. Bob R. says:

    Isn’t it true that there is a variety of plum-type tomato called San Marzano; with several clonal varieties?

  11. Gina Stipo says:

    Cento has several different products, one of which are real San Marzano DOP with the stamp/number from the consorzio. I think they’re most important when making an authentic dish from Southern Italy. Cooks in Bologna, which is in northern Italy, would have used their own local tomatoes, if at all.

    1. Dee says:

      They used to, not anymore. If the DOP symbol is still on any can of Cento, it’s a fake. Cento does NOT can their tomatoes in Italy. They do use San Marzano seeds, but unless they’re grown in Italy, they should not have the Consorzio’s legitimate DOP symbol.

  12. Gina Stipo says:

    I would like to invite Geoffrey to come visit me in Tuscany and see for himself how different olive oils really are, or tomatoes for that matter!

  13. Kathi says:

    How about Pastene? That’s what I have in my pantry. The markings are all correct – the number and logos are there. Is this a good brand? I’ve used Cento, and they were out of this world, but I haven’t tried this brand yet.

  14. no, they do not qualify. it is like you made a cheese in America and you called it Parmigiano Reggiano. Your cheese might be great, but, according to the European Law, you cannot call it Parmigiano Reggiano, because that name is protected and is destined to a product made in a specific place with specific rules. Same applies to DOP San Marzano.
    grazie!

  15. Jim M says:

    Cento changed thier label, calling the tomato San Marzano, but dropping the word “Certified”. These are not true San Marzanos.

  16. Nick Vino says:

    I have been using Cento San Marzano tomatoes for years. The label may have changed, but they are still from the same region and the product is still the best!

    1. Dee says:

      Nope. They’re grown in the U.S.A. Check the fine print on the bottom of the front side of the can. NOT San Marzano’s,

  17. Steve says:

    Since your blog entries about DOP, I have been looking more closely at different DOP labels and noticed that some serial numbers have five digits, six digits, or seven digits. Why the difference?
    Do the serial numbers correspond to the packer or the owner of the label?

  18. Caro Steve, grazie for caring! There can be any number of digits on the label. Each producer of San Marzano tomatoes, every year, announces how many tins of San Marzano tomatoes he will produce at the beginning of the season. The Consorzio, then, allocates to that producer a series of numbers (from-to). Each number identifies 1 tin of tomatoes. The Pres of the Consorzio told me that, starting next year, the numbers will be trackable on their website. You will be able to enter the number and learn who produced the tomatoes inside and where they were processed.
    Hope it is clear. Thank you!

  19. Mike Vaccaro says:

    Althought I’m sure this is all true, I think it would be important to add (and of course this complicates things further) important to add that there is also a variety of tomato that is legitamately called “San Marzano” and if that tomato was grown in my back yard or in California or anywhere, it would still be a true statement to call it a San Marzano tomato! Maybe not a D.O.P San Marzano though! If any expert disagrees please let me know!

  20. Beatrice says:

    Ciao Mike, I’m certainly NOT an expert, I’m only saying what I heard from the President of the Consorzio San Marzano Tomatoes. It is against the European law to call San Marzano ANY tomato that is grown NOT in compliance of the rules of the consorzio. Therefore, he says, tomatoes NOT grown in the specific area of the consorzio SHOULD NOT be called San Marzano. I guess that if you grow your tomato in your back yard, nobody would care. If you make a business out of misleading the public, the President of the Consorzio San Marzano cares, because you are damaging the 200 small farmers who are growing and canning REAL San Marzano tomatoes. He says, it is like opening a dairy in Wisconsin and calling the company Parmigiano Reggiano. Yes, this is a very interesting conversation. Thank you very much for asking!

  21. Scott Jones in PTC, Ga. says:

    A most interesting discussion here. Concerning the Cento brand of SM DOP tomatoes – I, personally have been disappointed in them. My two personal favorite brands are LaValle and Coluccio. The tomatoes are much nicer, firmer (less watery), and produce a far superior sauce, IMHO.
    Try them and you’ll see. Google the brand name to find out where to order.
    LaValle…
    http://www.pennmac.com/items/2415//la-valle-san-marzano-peeled-tomatoes
    Coluccio…
    http://www.ibfoods.com/store/item.asp?ITEM_ID=225&DEPARTMENT_ID=128
    Scott

  22. Marcella Hazan says:

    There is no question that the taste of tinned genuine DOP San Marzano tomatoes is superior to that of any other tomato that comes out of a tin, and yes Geoffrey Swain, it makes a real difference. The name San Marzano alone does not seem to be protected by American laws, just as Burgundy, Champagne, or Chianti appear not to be protected. I have seen a tin with a very pretty label, all in white except for the illustration of a bright red plum tomato on which are superimposed the words San Marzano. Whole Foods displays it as Italian Tomatoes even though very small type on the label identifies the origin as California. I happen to like working with fresh tomatoes, however, if they are ripe and firm. I cannot be persuaded that any tinned or frozen vegetable is superior to or even equal to carefully selected fresh ones. I was startled to find, moreover, that Elizabeth Minchilli makes ragù alla bolognese without tomatoes. Veramente, Elizabeth?

  23. ---Guy says:

    Are these Danicoop tomatoes packed with basil leaf? How about salt, how many mg per 100 g? Any other ingredients?
    Thanks!

  24. nicolette says:

    Guy -Thank you so much for your inquiry about our wonderful genuine marzano Dani Coop tomatoes! The only ingredients in the Dani Coop cans is San Marzano tomatoes and tomatoes juice, no salt, no basil , nothing to disrupt the amazing natural flavors!! You cannot get more authentic than that can you?
    If you would like to order them before they are all gone do it here http://gustiblog.gustiamo.com/cgi-bin/front_end/prodotto?id=102367 or give me a call me on 718 860 2949 and I can take your order over the phone.
    Please also take some time to look at our other artisanal products. Our producers take so much care to produce unique, sustainable quality products which I am sure you will love as much as we do. Let me know if you have any more questions and enjoy!
    Nicolette

  25. Kelly in Springfield, VA says:

    Wow, I’m not worthy! I have one of your cookbooks. I stumbled upon this discussion after having some frustration trying to purchase San Marzano tomatoes in bulk from amazon.com, and what I received were Italian tomatoes, but not San Marzanos. I am still looking for an affordable source for buying them in bulk online or a good local outlet in Northern Virginia, but I may have better luck getting them from local markets when I visit my family in Pittsburgh. I knew about the D.O.P. designation, but it is good to have a source to try to confirm what you buy. Also, I have grown San Marzano’s, and these are a variety of tomato plant/seed sold in the U.S. I would still call them San Marzano’s and they tasted great, but I also understand that these are not that in accordance with the regulations of the Italian government. Anyway, enjoyed reading this discussion. Whoevever was inviting someone to Tuscany to sample olive oil and tomatoes, can I come too? 🙂

  26. Chris says:

    Pomodoro San Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese Nocerino D.O.P. – I need to know where I can get AUTHENTIC SEEDS. Please get back to me.

  27. Don Trask says:

    Terry,
    I called Cento myself and their SM tomatoes are grown in Salerno, Italy, certified as San Marzano. But just don’t my word for it, taste the Cento product yourself and then tell me if they aren’t the best tasting tomatoes you can buy.

    1. Dee says:

      Nope! Cento is not using truthful advertising. The can says MADE IN THE U.S.A. Therefore, not San Marzano. What is so hard to understand about that?

  28. Dear Don, do you work for Cento??? 🙂 I don’t know them or their products. The consortium tells me that Cento is a very big industrial company. I happen to have in the office a label from one of their tins. This label says “Pomodoro San Marzano Certified Peeled tomatoes”. As the post above explains, if the tomato is San Marzano tomato, there are certain rules/words to follow/write on the label. “Certified” is not one of them. The Consortium tells us that “Certified” is not a word that they would accept. The Consortium says that San Marzano tomatoes must be DOP, otherwise, whatever is in the tin cannot be called San Marzano tomatoes. Grazie mille for writing and for your interest in the topic. Hope this is clear!

  29. paolo says:

    BEATRICHE EVERYTHING YOU SAID! AND VERY WELL.
    MORE INFORMATION MAY BE VISITING THE WEB CONSORTIUM http://www.consorziopomodorosanmarzanodop.it
    NOTICE BY IMITATION!!
    http://www.danicoop.com

  30. dom says:

    i need an itlian vat to import, right?

  31. Beatrice says:

    Dom, thank you for writing. Unfortunately, I don’t understand what your question is. You want to import tomatoes? Could you pls be more clear? Grazie.

  32. Jay says:

    I picked up a can of La Valle tomato’s today. The can says “Pomodoro S. Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese – Nocerino D.O.P.” It has both seals and a stamped production number. Are these true San Marzano? This week alone, I have bought four different brands from a small Italian store here in Pittsburgh PA – USA, only to find that they are not real San Marzano tomato’s. I hope I struck gold with this brand.

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  34. robert says:

    Where can Ibuy authentic san marsano tomatoes seeds? Can you please supply me with this information.

  35. ernest weissenborn says:

    In my quest for authentic San Marzano canned tomatoes, I have been flummoxed by the DOP marking either standing by itself on the label on certain cans, or encircled in a small ellipse on others. Can the Consorzio San Marsano enlighten me whether one or the other of these DOP signatures is bogus? Forgive what outwardly seems picky, but it’s either one or the other, especially when efforts to con (in general) are so sophisticated.

    In exasperation…

  36. M DiMattia says:

    I would like to know if there are fresh San Marzano tomatoes available in the US at wholesale. Also, can I grow them in Michigan. I too would like to find good seeds..

    1. beatrice says:

      Dear M DIMattia, fresh San Marzano do not exist. The San Marzano name is only given to peeled canned tomatoes. Not fresh, not organic, not crushed… Therefore, the only way you can enjoy a real, legitimate, legal, San Marzano is by buying the canned tomatoes. For example, these: https://www.gustiamo.com/shop/dop-san-marzano-tomatoes-by-danicoop-2/
      Everything else, is San Marzano style. A copy. It might be very good, too But it can’t be named “San Marzano”.

      1. Dana says:

        Hi Beatrice ~ Would you know if these that you are recommending (your link above), be BPA-free cans? Thanks in advance for your time. 🙂

  37. C rossie says:

    Sustainable fields, the real thing. They are the best, have dop and have to be ordered. Use to be able to get them at Costco, but not anymore. Ask for sustainable fields canned San Mariano tomatoes in search. I haven’t been able to get the large cans though.

  38. Micki Love says:

    Costco is now selling San Marzano Tomatoes that have both the D.O.P. seal and each can is individually number. I kind of trust Costco that these are the real deal and the price is only $9.49 for a three pack (they only sell in bulk)!!!

  39. JoAnn says:

    Are Strianese DOP the real thing?

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