Cooks Illustrated prefers Muir Glen and Hunt's over San Marzano, even the DOP-certified ones. How about you?
I prefer Muir Glen. Lynne Rosetto Kasper who is an authority on Italian cuisine says San Marzano varieties available in America are not worth the price you might pay. She recommends Muir Glen as well as other varieties in her What to Supper.
My first preference is canning my own. And that didn't happen last summer. At the Farmer's Market (here in Seattle) there were San Marzano tomatoes being sold for double the price of any others. I tasted them and did not discern value added. I totally agree with mattcooper that for canned store bought, Muir Glen is the best. Happy to have the background he provided.
I also prefer Muir Glen.
I've had bad luck with Muir Glen. They've been watery and lacking in flavor. Maybe I'll try them again on all of your recommendations. I got a bad batch? I try to get imported brands but based on people's comments I guess those aren't good. Worked for us though. I look for San marzanos imported from San marzano.
"San Marzano" is a squishy term in the first place. Yes, you can buy and plant seeds called "San Marzano," but there are many many varieties of paste tomatoes, including some bred to be better than the genuine San Marzano article. As for any plant, some types do better in one climate, some do better in another. Even if one grows "genuine" San Marzanos, the quality can vary depending on growing conditions. I try to can my own tomatoes, which end up being a mix of whatever is ripe. However, I find Hunts and Glen Muir to be reliable brands that are reasonably priced. I don't think expensive imported varieties are worth the price, and who knows if every single tomato in the can is a "San Marzano" or merely a San Marzano type. Now on to the mystery of the "Bliss" potato. I've grown all sorts of red potatoes--Norlands, Adirondacks, Pontiacs, etc. --but I have never seen a seed catalog that listed a Bliss. Perhaps it is an antique term that just keeps being repeated by recipe writers.
My husband's uncle was living in West Virginia, and he grew tomatoes. He didn't think they were as good as the ones he grew up with on the New Jersey coastal plain, so he bought plants in NJ and planted them in his WV garden -- still not as good. Moral of the story -- seeds and plants may be the "real thing" but the influence of the soil, sun and air is very important. Similarly, where can you get San Francisco sourdough except SF? "Local" is not a new concept!
First of all, any advice that comes from Chris "Starched Apron" Kimbell and America's Test Kitchen I throw out the window right away. They have an intensely Mid Western bias, leaning towards bland. Unfortunately the term San Marzano gets messed up because there is a domestic brand using that lable even though the tomatoes are grown in Arizona. True San Marzanos are grown in the volcanic soil of Napoli/Campagna. Unless you live next to a volcano you can't replicate that taste. That said, I kind of like Muir Glenn as a substitute.
Ha-ha! That's sort of why I asked the question. I'm a little suspicious of Christopher Kimball myself (how a life-long preppy Easterner adopted that Midwestern twang in much of his preferred style baffles me). Plus, it seemed to me that whenever I had a canned tomato that I really liked, it had come from where it was supposed to in Italy. But thanks, everyone, I guess I'll give Muir Glen a try.
Home canned first, muir glen second. i avoid anything that travels too far, ie; san marzano
Frozen first (that I freeze right after picking, perfectly ripe), Muir Glen second.
I use Pomi frequently ---like the brand and very low in sodium. I also slow-roast at end of summer and freeze in bags, then when I use boil down most of the tomato water.
Another point in favor of Pomi is that the tomatoes are in aseptic packaging instead of cans, so the concerns about toxic can linings is not relevant. But is there anything I haven't heard about problems with aseptic packaging, apart from not being recyclable?
I've used San Marzano, Pomi, Muir Glen... I can't remember any being distinctly better than the other because I'm always mixing the tomatoes into something else, but after seeing ATK's choice for Muir Glen, I try to buy those when the budget allows.