The Best Tomatoes for Sauce: San Marzano Tomatoes

Ask any chef and they’ll tell you that San Marzanos are the best tomatoes for sauce.

The flesh of San Marzanos is thicker and meatier than other sauce tomatoes, they have fewer seeds, a bolder flavor, and they’re less acidic. The end result?Β  These tomatoes just melt into sauces.

To prep San Marzanos for sauce, you first have to remove the skin. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Drop in a few San Marzanos (you may have to work in batches) and boil until they’re skins start to blister (about 1-3 minutes). Remove the tomatoes from the water using tongs, a slotted spoon, or a Chinese skimmer and immerse them in a bowl of ice water. Once the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, use your hands to peel off the skins.

Next, chop off the tops of the tomatoes and slice away any tough flesh, bruises, or rot spots. To remove the seeds, cut the tomato in half lengthwise and gently scrape out the seeds using a small spoon or your finger. At this point, the tomatoes are ready to be frozen or canned.

Removing the skins and seeds from San Marzanos makes for an extra velvety sauce. Try using San Marzanos in this simple Garlic Tomato Sauce for pasta or pizza. They’re also perfect in ratatouille.

Look for fresh San Marzano tomatoes at your local farmers market. You can also find canned San Marzanos in specialty stores or larger grocery chains.

Image courtesy of Satrina0 via a Creative Commons license.

7 thoughts on “The Best Tomatoes for Sauce: San Marzano Tomatoes”

  1. Oh yum! I wonder if my husband would have an easier time with these tomatoes! The acidity usually really messes with him.

  2. I'm working with a strain of San Marzano tomatoes that are EXTREMELY productive. Incredibly. They just keep putting out tomatoes and have shot far past the fruit production of the other tomaotes in my garden, – all without sacrificing taste or quality. The SM is truly an amazing tomato, and will always be 50 to 75 percent of the tomatoes grown in my garden. Great to eat, and even better for sauce. Incredible production and it stands up to the 100+ Tulsa heat great. Our's have a mild, sweet flavor with low acidity.

  3. I grow SM’s south of Tulsa, last year was a good year despite the slow cold start. Real SM’s need volcanic soil to really shine. Green sand or other volcanic amendments really help them shine and taste more like they’re grown in Naples. Also, a bag of crushed oyster shell (Tractor Supply, $6 for 60 lbs) that the chicken farmers give to the hens really helps. Volcanite from Green-Ville down in Texas works well too. Johnny’s also has a hybrid called Super San Marzano that are a lot easier to grow in tough climates. We’ve had better luck with them, the heirloom SM’s are a bit finicky.

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