Hello Italian Tomato 'Hounds
I remember hearing once about the problem with DOP tomatoes, in that there are restrictions requiring imported tomatoes to be packed in cooked puree, rather than juice.
Puree is apparently made with inferior tomatoes (the ones that don't make the grade for whole tomatoes). So what happens abroad is that superior tomatoes are packed in the inferior puree, and the the beautiful flavor of the San Marzano DOPs becomes tainted with a muddy, cooked flavor.
American tomatoes can be packed in either puree or juice.
I decided to test out this theory. I dropped $4-6 on several cans of DOP tomatoes (reputable brands such as La Valle DOP, A-1, Nina's, etc.) and a can of Hunt's packed in juice.
Tasted straight from the can, there's simply no contest.
Tasted side by side, it's readily apparent that Hunt's tastes MUCH fresher. Bright, clean, crisp. The tomatoes were firm and didn't immediately dissolve apart (which admittedly is not a desirable trait when cooking a sauce). All of the brands of puree packed San Marzanos had that same cooked, muddy flavor and couldn't hold a candle to the fresh flavor of the domestic, juice-packed brand.
I hate to say it, but I think we're being duped. I'd be curious to hear from people who have cooked with canned San Marzano DOP in Italy. Are they packed in juice there?
Were you aware of this drastic difference?
Looking forward to reading your responses.