How do you know if you’ve got real San Marzano tomatoes? That’s what Eater set out to discover and they couldn’t have chosen a better place than Gustarosso during the tomato harvest. Eater traveled down to Campania to speak with our long-time partner Paolo Ruggiero about how a DOP San Marzano tomato makes it from a vine in the shadow of Mt Vesuvius to a sauce on your pizza. Paolo’s a fourth-generation San Marzano tomato farmer and owner of Gustarosso, so he knows what he’s talking about! The resulting video brought us to tears of joy: Eater perfectly captured the beauty of this process, the uniqueness of these tomatoes, and the passion of everyone working behind the scenes at Gustarosso.
DOP San Marzano Tomatoes
Gustarosso’s San Marzano tomatoes are protected by DOP status by the European Union. That means true San Marzano tomatoes can only be grown, peeled, canned, and labeled in the Agro Nocerino Sarnese, an area in Campania between Naples and Salerno. This area was blanketed by volcanic eruptions in the past, meaning the soil is chock full of nutrients contributing to the tomato’s taste prized the world over. In addition to the volcanic soil, the abundant water of the Sarno river and the iodine-rich breeze coming from the Golfo di Castellammare form the distinctive terroir needed for real San Marzano tomatoes.
But these tomatoes require more than the land itself. The farmers who work the fields have an essential knowledge that comes only with experience and tradition. Gustarosso‘s motto, “racolti da nonni Italiani”, is true! Gustarosso tomato pickers are on average between 74 and 90 years old. “They are the guardians of the environment”, says Paolo.
Once picked, the tomatoes make their way to the processing facility down the road. Then they’re peeled and hand sorted, since “human touch is much more effective”. The perfect tomatoes are destined to remain whole, whereas the imperfect ones head for the sauce. Each can of Gustarosso DOP San Marzano tomatoes has a unique serial number. This numbers allows you to trace your tomatoes back to the farmer, the day of harvest, and even day of processing. “This is the beauty of the Italian agri-food production chain”, says Paolo. Total traceability, total accountability, total quality.
San Marzano tomato fraud is a real problem, and ultimately hurts honest Italian farmers. That’s why we can’t stress this enough: cook with tomatoes from sources you trust! And we can’t thank Eater enough for their gorgeous work following San Marzano tomatoes from the field to the can.
Congratulazioni Paolo, tutti i contadini, e tutti i lavoratori!