Canned Tomato Taste Test

Everything you need to throw your own tomato party!

Every month I assemble TEAM SPT for some extreme pizza excitement. Last month’s mission was all about the tomato. We talked some tomato history and genetics along with a tasting of several grocery store brand canned plum tomatoes. Pizzerias need the consistency of tomatoes that are canned in season. They use plum tomatoes because they contain less water than the big round guys. That’s why we need to stay on top of the tomato product universe and all that it offers.


Here are two fresh tomatoes, one from my local grocery store (left) and the other from the Union Square Green Market (right). My grocery store carries Canadian tomatoes that are picked green and gassed with ethylene to redden the skin. It was hard, mealy and off-color. The lovely red tomato on the right is from a farm in Pennsylvania. It was picked when ripe and brought to market within 48 hours. It tasted WAY better! Too bad you can only get these in season, otherwise the canned tomato wouldn’t be such a big deal.


We tried a few different tomato brands in a blind tasting similar to the massive ones I did in 2010. I put different products from the same company against each other. These two products from La Valle are different. The can on the left is DOP San Marzano tomatoes and the can on the right is straight peeled plum tomatoes. The DOP tomatoes are more expensive, but is the taste really that different? 


Miriam and Joe did the tasting, I prepared the test. They were given a series of white cups, each holding a whole plum tomato straight from the can. I labeled the cups A-E and hid the original cans in the kitchen. These tomatoes were right from the can with no rinsing or anything. I wanted Miriam and Joe to taste everything about the product. 

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SPT Turns 3 TODAY!

It has been exactly three years since I ran my first official pizza tour on the big yellow school bus (April 27, 2008). So much has happened over the past three years and I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank everyone who has ever been involved in any way.

Thanks to all the people who have taken tours (there are almost 10,000 of you out there!); thanks to all the pizza lovers who have emailed me with suggestions; thanks to all the editors and journalists who have written about SPT; thanks to PMQ and Pizza Today for welcoming me and SPT into the national pizza community; thanks to Tony Muia from A Slice of Brooklyn for helping me get started; thanks to anyone who has ever reviewed us on TripAdvisor, Yelp, Zerve or told a friend about our tours; thanks to all my fellow pizza enthusiasts and bloggers who have hipped me to new spots, shared slices with me, even taken pizza trips with me; thanks to my family for not having me committed when I quite a steady job with benefits. Most importantly, I want to thank all the pizzerias who have been so warm and welcoming to our groups. We only do what we do because they are too busy selling pizza to tell their own stories.

Thank you all for supporting SPT these past three years. We look forward to sharing more slices with you as we continue our journey through the ever-changing NYC pizza landscape.

Yours in pizza,