San Marzano Tomato Profile & Grow Guide (2024)

Have you ever heard of San Marzano tomatoes? They are a special kind of tomato that comes from Italy. Many think they are the best tomatoes for making pizza and other Italian dishes.

San Marzano tomatoes are long and thin, like a cylinder. They are called “paste” tomatoes because they have thick flesh and few seeds. This makes them perfect for cooking into a thick tomato sauce or paste.

San Marzano is an excellent choice to grow tomatoes to make sauces and pastes at home. They have an amazing, rich, sweet flavour that makes any tomato dish taste delicious.

Here are some key facts about San Marzano tomatoes:

  • They originally came from the San Marzano region near Naples, Italy
  • The plants keep growing taller all season (indeterminate type)
  • The fruits are plum or paste tomatoes, not round slicers
  • The vines can grow over 6 feet tall!
  • It takes around 85 days from planting for the tomatoes to be ready to pick

San Marzano tomatoes are famous around the world. Gardeners love growing them, and chefs prize their wonderful flavor for cooking. If you want to enjoy Italy at home, try planting some San Marzano tomatoes this year!

San Marzano Origins & History

Of all the stories about where different tomato varieties came from, the tale of the San Marzano tomato is probably the most interesting.

Real San Marzano tomatoes can only be grown in a special valley called the Sarno River Valley in the Campania region of Italy.

This valley is near San Marzano, where the tomatoes got their name. The area where San Marzanos are from is in southwestern Italy, not too far from the famous Italian food city of Naples.

Like many old gardening stories, there are many myths and legends about how San Marzano tomatoes began.

One story says the tomato plants were a gift to the King of Naples from Peru long ago! Even though there is no real proof this story is true, it shows just how special and valuable these tomato plants were considered.

The main reason San Marzano tomatoes taste so incredible is because of the soil they grow in. The very first San Marzano plants were grown right at the base of Mount Vesuvius, an ancient volcano.

The soil there is incredibly rich and full of nutrients from the volcanic ash and rocks. This “volcanic soil” contains minerals like phosphorus and potassium, essential for helping plants grow flowers and fruits.

San Marzano tomatoes from this region of Italy are so prized that there are laws about what can officially be called a true “San Marzano” tomato.

To be a real San Marzano, the tomatoes must be grown in the Sarno Valley area. They must also carry a special “DOP” emblem from the European Union proving their authenticity.

Even though there are rules about what counts as a true San Marzano, you can still try growing “San Marzano-type” tomato plants at home in your garden.

They may not taste the same as those from that amazing volcanic soil in Italy, but they will still be more delicious than many other tomato varieties!

Flavor Profile

Why San Marzano Tomatoes Taste So Incredible?

San Marzano tomatoes are famous for being the best-tasting plum or paste tomatoes you can buy. There are special rules about how they are grown and canned to protect their amazing flavour.

San Marzanos are the first choice for making the real authentic Neapolitan pizza from Naples, Italy – which many people say is the best pizza in the world!

San Marzano Tomato

So, what makes San Marzano tomatoes taste so much better than other tomatoes? There are a few key reasons:

First, the flesh is very thick, and the tomatoes don’t have a lot of moisture inside. This makes their tomato flavour strong, rich, and intense – but not too overwhelming.

Even though they aren’t very moist inside, the outer flesh still has a soft texture, making San Marzanos perfect for cooking.

Another thing that makes them taste so good is that San Marzanos are sweeter than similar tomatoes, with a little bit of mildly tart acidity. This sweetness, balanced with gentle acidity, makes them taste amazing in sauces that use a lot of tomatoes.

San Marzanos also have fewer seeds inside than other tomato varieties, which many people prefer when cooking.

San Marzano tomatoes perfectly balance all the best tomato flavours and textures. Their rich, sweet, and slightly acidic punch makes them versatile and delicious for all recipes!

Best Uses For San Marzano Tomatoes

If you haven’t guessed, making pizza sauce is one of the most popular uses for San Marzano tomatoes! In Italy and worldwide, these tomatoes are prized for their thick, smooth texture that doesn’t get watery.

This is because San Marzanos have low moisture inside.

Their thick texture is also perfect for making pasta sauces. The sweet tomato flavour goes so well with Italian herbs like oregano in the sauce.

Best Uses For San Marzano Tomatoes

Since San Marzanos are a paste or plum tomato variety, so they are ideal for any dish with a tomato-based sauce.

One example is tomato-based curries – the sweetness of the San Marzanos balances out the heat and spices so nicely. You can use them in regular stews to create thicker, richer sauces without making them too thin or watery.

All these examples show that San Marzano tomatoes are best when cooked, not eaten raw.

Any recipe that involves cooking tomatoes – even soups – is perfect for using San Marzanos. While you can eat them fresh, their flavour shines when cooked into sauces and dishes.

If you grow a lot of San Marzanos and have extras at the end of the season, they are also great for canning.

Canning allows you to save them and use your delicious canned San Marzano tomatoes all through the colder months when tomato plants aren’t growing.

What Are San Marzano Tomatoes Best Known For?

San Marzano Tomatoes – Famous for Cooking

There are many rules about how real San Marzano tomatoes can be grown and produced. Their incredible flavour makes them the best plum or paste tomato for cooking.

Chefs all over the world prefer to use San Marzanos. Even home cooks know to look for the special “DOP” sticker that proves a can contain authentic San Marzano tomatoes.

In gardens, San Marzano tomato plants have an interesting appearance with long, cylindrical fruits that come to a point at the end.

They tend to have a slightly longer growing season than other tomato varieties. This makes them better suited for warm climates where the plants can thrive and produce lots of tomatoes.

Where to Find San Marzano Seeds?

You’ll need to find seeds first to try growing these famous Italian tomatoes. San Marzano seeds can be a little trickier to find than some more common tomato varieties.

But you can usually order them online from seed suppliers, depending on the time of year. Here are some good online stores to check for San Marzano tomato seeds:

With their incredible flavour and texture, it’s no wonder San Marzano tomatoes are so prized for cooking! Finding and growing the seeds at home is worth a little extra effort.

How To Grow San Marzano Tomatoes?

How To Grow San Marzano Tomatoes

Getting Started

If you live in a cooler climate, starting your San Marzano seeds indoors during the winter is best. This will give the plants a head start before transplanting them outside. Since San Marzanos take a little longer to produce ripe fruits, starting them early helps ensure you can harvest as many tomatoes as possible before the first fall frosts kill the plants.

Supporting the Plants

San Marzanos are indeterminate tomato varieties, which means the vines keep growing taller throughout the season instead of being compact bushes.

Because of this, you’ll need to provide support to hold up the long vines. Set up a tomato cage or stake in the ground at planting time so you don’t disturb the roots later.

Consistent Watering

Keep the soil consistently moist from the seedling stage through flowering and fruiting. Proper watering helps the San Marzano plants grow strong stems and lush foliage to support and nourish the developing tomatoes.


To mimic the nutrient-rich volcanic soil that gives San Marzanos their amazing flavour, feed your plants with a fertilizer higher in phosphorus and potassium once they start flowering and setting fruits.

With the right care from planting through harvest, you’ll be rewarded with delicious San Marzano tomatoes in sauces, pizza, and all your favourite Italian recipes in about 3 months!

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