While its jarred or canned counterpart has seen a surge in popularity on grocery store shelves in recent years and is often well known to those of Italian ancestry, one Quebec grower is trying his hand at growing fresh San Marzano tomatoes in Canada.
The San Marzano tomato is thinner, more pointed and has thicker flesh with fewer seeds than a traditional, more well known Roma tomato which makes it a stronger, sweeter, less acidic option. The tomato, when crossed with two other varieties, became the parent for the Roma tomato which is an easier tomato to grow than its San Marzano parent.
EagleXport/Alcaro Farms in Montreal, QC has planted San Marzano tomatoes this year as an experiment.
“We’re planting it this year as an experiment. We’ve always done Roma tomatoes and we were approached by a chain store specifically asking for San Marzano tomatoes,” says Alex Zenebisis of EagleXport/Alcaro Farms in Montreal, QC., adding that they have also seen increased demand in recent years on their Roma tomatoes.
More Romas too
Set to harvest at the end of August, EagleXport/Alcaro Farms planned the crop to yield 15,000-20,000 25 lb. cases. They also plan on increasing Roma tomato acreage by 35 percent.
Left: Alex Zenebisis; right: San Marzano tomatoes still on the vine.
Zenebisis believes there will be very strong demand for the tomatoes to support these volumes. “More people are doing their own canning and making sauces in the fall so there will be a much bigger demand,” says Zenebisis. He believes the San Marzano tomato is well suited to grow in Southern Quebec and that distribution will likely extend beyond the chain store that approached the grower. Some quantities will likely be available for open-market sales in Canada and the U.S.
The window of availability will be short though adds Zenebisis, noting it’s likely four to six weeks of production.