San Marzano Tomato
Reflections from Truelove Seeds founder Owen Taylor: Dip a spoon into a pot of simmering San Marzano Tomatoes, and you’ll realize you’ve found your forever sauce tomato. Well, that’s what happened to me. These particular pointy-ended plum tomatoes are grown widely in the volcanic soil of the Salerno province near Naples, Italy - the same province and soil where my great grandmother Rosana “Rose” Lauriello was born. You can find these tomatoes canned in most grocery stores, often from tomatoes grown and canned in Salento. They are listed on the Slow Food Presidia for Italy, where they now have protected status. They became endangered as more and more canneries were using hybrid tomatoes that had higher productivity and more disease resistance. I’ll say this: this year, ours pumped out fruits and were the healthiest tomato plants in our fields. And their sauce tastes amazingly rich, sweet, and perfectly acidic, with exactly the right texture. I’m no tomato expert - maybe someday I’ll find a sauce tomato I like more - but for now, this tried and true heirloom from one of my motherlands has earned an all-star spot on my farm for years to come.
Finally, tomatoes have a history much deeper than Italy: they are so named from the Nahuatl (Aztec language) word “xitomatl” or “tomatl”; they have been cultivated as food on the land that is now called Mexico since at least around 500 BC; and they originate in western South America.
Days to maturity: 80
Seeds per pack: 40
Planting / harvesting notes
Start seeds 6-8 weeks before the last frost and transplant into garden well after the danger of frost. We recommend you prune the suckers that form in the crotches of the branches by the main stem. Water tomatoes at the soil level, keeping the leaves dry. Stake tomatoes so that their leaves and branches are kept off the ground, for good airflow between plants, and for easier harvest.
Seed keeping notes
Tomatoes are generally self-pollinating, though we isolate different varieties by 35-50 feet, in hopes that flying insects will not cross pollinate them unexpectedly. Tomato seeds are ripe when the fruits are ready to eat! Cut the fruit at the equator and squeeze or scrape out seeds from each of the cavities. In a cup or bucket, add a little water (1/2" is probably plenty) to your seeds and pulp to keep them from drying out, and allow them to ferment away from direct sunlight. Ideally, you will stir the concoction every day for 3-5 days. In the end, add more water to fill the vessel, stir one final time, and allow to settle. Pour off the floating material and then strain the seeds through a strainer. Sometimes, you will need to add more water and pour off the floating material several times until the water is clear and you can see the seeds sunken at the bottom. Squeeze dry the strained seeds in a towel, and then lay out to dry on a labeled screen or paper product in a ventilated place away from direct sunlight for a week or two.