Near Naples, in the Campania region of Italy, a variety of tomato grows that has become famous worldwide: The San Marzano tomato. These tomatoes grow in rich volcanic soil, in the actual shadow of Mount Vesuvius. This unique climate and growing conditions gives them a sweet flavor and low acidity. What’s more, these tomatoes are delicate, so they need to be handpicked immediately upon ripening. San Marzanos are a type of plum tomato, but more slender, with more pointed ends. They have a thick skin that’s easy to peel when ripe, are deep red in color, and have fewer seeds. These tomatoes are so highly prized, there have been fakes created. And while genuine San Marzano canned tomatoes are always sold either cut in half or peeled whole, the only positive way to be sure you are getting the genuine, authentic variety of what has been called the “best tomato in the world,” is to look on the can for the words “”Pomodoro San Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese Nocerino D.O.P.” and the symbols of the Cosorzio and the D.O.P., the latter of which identifies European regional food products that are protected by law. The Cosorzio also assigns a unique number to each can, labeled as “N° XXXXXXX.”
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