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The San Marzano Tomato

The San Marzano is one of the worlds most well known and sought after tomato varieties. Not only does this hardy tomato have an amazing flavor (especially for those of you who don't like the seeds) but its thick meaty type texture makes it a top contender among all paste varieties for sauces, salads, drying and canning.

San Marzano tomatoes originally grew in the Campania region of Italy, near Naples, where pizza originated and these folks know their tomatoes. It's said that the tomatoes are special because they grow in the shadow of Mount Versuvius, famed for destroying Pompeii, in fields that are rich in volcanic soil. The warm sunny weather and stable climate probably don't hurt either.

The San Marzano is an heirloom tomato and can be characterized by its tubular shape, meaty insides and intense flavor. It contains a ton of sugars, acids and just the right about of pectin to make the worlds richest and most delicious sauces. Because it's naturally low in calories and packs a tasty powerful punch many people enjoy just eating them off the vine with little or no embellishments.

To grow the San Marzano from seeds start indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost in very warm soil (80-90F) kept just moist. Once germinated, allow soil to dry slightly but don't allow the plant to wilt. After true leaves begin to develop, continue growth in moderate temperatures (60-70), to slow growth. Transplant outside after frost and soil and night time temperatures begin to warm. Space determinate (bush) varieties 18-24 inches apart, and indeterminate ones 24-36 inches apart, in rows 3-4 feet apart. Best fruit production is when soil moisture is even, and phosphorus rich fertilizer is used. Enjoy these great recipes made with San Marzano Tomatoes:

Homemade Tomato Sauce
Fresh and Easy Tomato Basil Sauce

8 pounds San Marzano tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 large onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In large saucepan, cook tomatoes and basil over medium-low heat until tomatoes are soft. Meanwhile, in medium skillet, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until onions are translucent.
Add onion mixture to tomato mixture and add salt and pepper. Let simmer on low heat for 2 hours or until thick.

Homemade Tomato Sauce

10 to 12 ripe San Marzano tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 cup Burgundy wine
1 bay leaf
2 stalks celery
2 tablespoons

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Have a large bowl of iced water ready. Plunge whole tomatoes in boiling water until skin starts to peel, 1 minute. Remove with slotted spoon and place in ice bath. Let rest until cool enough to handle, then remove peel and squeeze out seeds. Chop 8 tomatoes and puree in blender or food processor. Chop remaining two tomatoes and set aside. In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, cook onion, bell pepper, carrot and garlic in oil and butter until onion starts to soften, 5 minutes. Pour in pureed tomatoes. Stir in chopped tomato, basil, Italian seasoning and wine. Place bay leaf and whole celery stalks in pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 2 hours. Stir in tomato paste and simmer an additional 2 hours. Discard bay leaf and celery and serve.

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