The first recipe for the classic tomato sauce was by Francesco Leonardi, cook for Empress Catherine the Great of Russia; from that moment on, nothing would stop the glorious rise of the tomato and in only a short time it would become a favoured ingredient, whether for royal banquets or the simple fare of the humble.
Origin and History
The tomato plant – a semi-wild species with small berries – originated in Peru three thousand years before the arrival of the European conquerors in Cortès’ retinue; its use for cooking was widespread among the Mayas and Aztecs who cultivated it with maize and called the fruit “xitomatl”. The variety that arrived in Europe much later, brought by the Spanish ships, was improved and more digestible, and it had already become an essential ingredient at the table of the great Emperor Montezuma. In Europe, however, it was greeted with some suspicion and considered unpalatable, and even poisonous by some. It was first used in European cooking in the 18th century, as recorded by historians, naturalists, courtiers and cooks.
The Taste of tradition
Tomato processing begins with the sorting of the best tomatoes that are washed to eliminate any traces of earth or other unwanted materials. Then the most suitable fruit is sorted with the perfectly ripe and whole fruit chosen for processing. Next, the fruit is brought to a high temperature to separate the skin from the flesh, and then an optic sorter eliminates any damaged fruit, the stems, and traces of skin. At this point in the production line, the tin cans are filled with tomatoes, whole or in pieces, and their juice, and are vacuum-sealed to preserve their freshness and flavour. The next phase in the operation is sterilization, which eliminates any micro-organisms that could alter the product. At the end of processing, the preserved tomatoes, whole or in pieces, are ready for the final meters of the conveyor belt for labelling and packing in cartons. Next stop, home kitchens and gourmet restaurants all around the world.
Tomatoes are naturally low in sugars and fats but rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, minerals, fibres and antioxidants like lycopene, making them a concentrated burst of beneficial substances. All the energy they have accumulated under the Mediterranean sun is transferred to every dish, as a burst of taste and nourishment. The tomatoes used by the tomato-processing industry are harvested only when fully ripe and when their flesh is red and juicy but still firm enough to be processed.
You can buy preserved aromatic tomatoes grown under the Mediterranean sun in whatever form you want: whole peeled tomatoes, cherry tomatoes or chopped tomatoes. Nothing is more versatile than canned tomatoes, to create an infinite number of simple, healthy but delicious dishes rich in creativity and tempting aromas. The variety of possible combinations is virtually endless. Starting from the simple (but incomparable) tomato sauce for a tasty pasta dish or to flavour a pizza, tomatoes can be used with meat, fish, eggs, and cheese, and even for dessert. Whatever flavour you are looking for in your cooking, tomatoes will be able to provide it adapting to the dish and, depending on the recipe, play a starring role or be a supporting player, be the accompaniment or distinctive note of any dish. All these qualities in just one food that is – to tell the truth – many varieties in shape, appearance, and colour. Just a few quick gestures to open a can of tomatoes and transform it into a masterpiece to bring to your table.
Food Safety & Environmental Sustainability
Italy and the European Union have always been in the vanguard regarding food safety and the quality of food products. To assure consumers of a high level of food safety and safeguard the agri-food sector from recurrent crises, the EU has adopted the farm to fork strategy to meet the challenge of assuring health and safe food along the whole food chain, with an integrated control system, based on a combination of high requirements for agri-food products for health and animal and plant welfare, whether produced in the EU or imported.
All Member States must respect the same criteria and food and sanitary controls are carried out to the same standard across the EU. By harmonising the sanitary regulations, the free movement of safe food was made possible contributing significantly to the well-being of citizens and their social and economic interests.
The main principles of the food regulations
integrated controls along the whole of the food chain
interventions based on risk analysis
primary responsibility of each sector operator for each product made, transformed, imported, marketed or distributed
traceability of the product along the food chain
the consumer as an active part of food safety
Today, all industrial tomato-processing is fully regulated by laws and standards on the raw materials, and the information or claims are printed on the labels.
Which kind to use
Tomatoes, in all their forms, are a precious source of inspiration. The tomato is in fact one of the main ingredients of all the cuisines of the world. Here there are some practical food pairing and suggestions for each type of canned tomato!
01 Peeled Tomato
It is the best known, loved and most used tomato. The canned peeled tomato is the result of the selection of particular elongated varieties, ideal for sauces, but also for pizza, as indicated in the specification for Neapolitan pizza STG.
02 Diced Tomato
Diced tomatoes are obtained from peeled tomatoes, they are both elonged and round varieties, cut into pieces or shredded, treated and packaged like peeled tomatoes. This type of preserve has all the true and rustic flavour of Italian cuisine, it lends itself well to long preparations, but also to season a simple pasta and to enhance all fish-based main courses.
03 Cherry Tomato
This particular variety of tomato stands out from the others for its more acidulous and “sugar flavour”, which makes it very popular even by the kids. Cherry tomato is great for experimenting with many salads and dishes with a more summery flavour and it is very suitable for espresso sauces.