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There are several slightly different varieties of San Marzano tomatoes and there's not much difference between them. Our recommendation though is for San Marzano Redorta. It's just that little bit earlier and has slightly larger tomatoes compared to the other varieties.

This is primarily a cooking variety, superb for recipes which require passata or any type of tomato sauce. It's a meaty tomato with lots of body and has excellent taste as an eater. It's well suited to growing outdoors in the UK and also in greenhouses.


BUSH OR CORDON?


All San Marzano tomatoes are best grown as cordon type tomatoes. When growing them outdoors we would recommend limiting them to 3 or at the most 4 trusses depending on how much sun you get in your area of the UK.

APPEARANCE AND TASTE OF SAN MARZANO TOMATO

San Marzano Tomatoes
Image copyright notice
San Marzano Tomatoes from our allotment

San Marzano are without doubt the best tomatoes for sauces, their combination of flavour, meaty texture and very small amount of seeds makes them stand out above all the other varieties. As you can see from the picture below, these tomatoes do vary in size and texture.

San Marzano tomatoes cut open
Image copyright notice

You may think with all that going for them that they won't do well outdoors in the UK but the opposite is true, they do very well. We recommend the variety San Marzano Redorta because it does better than other similar types in the UK.

This is a vigorous grower and will most definitely need support. Limit the plant to 3 or 4 trusses when grown outside and remove foliage which cover any of them to give maximum exposure to the sunshine.

For all the tomato varieties which we have fully reviewed, click the drop down box below, select a variety and then click the More Information Button.


 

SUMMARY CHARACTERISTICS OF SAN MARZANO TOMATOES



F1 OR OPEN POLLINATED?: Open pollinated variety which will grow true to type when grown from saved seed including San Marzano Redorta. Click here for clear instructions and even clearer pictures on how to save seeds from San Marzano tomatoes.

GROWTH TYPE: Cordon

WHERE TO GROW: Outdoors does very well, can also be grown in a greenhouse.

USE: Principally for tomato sauces of the highest quality but also makes a very tasty and meaty eater.

SKIN COLOUR / TEXTURE: Red glossy skins with a smooth texture

FLESH COLOUR: Red

TASTE AND TEXTURE: Good balance of acidity and sweetness, firm meaty texture

STORAGE: Can be picked green ripens very well on a window sill

TOMATO SIZE: Larger than normal plum tomato shape

REGULARITY OF CROPPING: Regularly produces a good yield

AWARDS: None

SPECIAL FEATURES: The best outdoor tomato for sauces and passata.

WHEN TO SOW SAN MARZANO SEED


The key dates for sowing and planting out San Marzano seeds / plants are given below. The dates displayed below are correct for the UK average. If you want them to be even more accurate and adjusted for your area of the UK click here. It only takes a minute and the adjustment affects every date in this site and lasts for six months.
  • Sow seeds in pots indoors
    Second week of March

  •  
  • Pot up young plants
    Second week of April

  •  
  • Harden off young plants
    First week of May

  •  
  • Plant out young plants
    Third week of May

WHEN TO HARVEST SAN MARZANO TOMATOES


This variety is a cordon type tomato and if they are pruned in that way you can expect to be picking your first San Marzano tomatoes in the first week of August

BUYING SAN MARZANO REDORTA SEED IN THE UK


Seeds for some of the San Marzano strains are available from online seed suppliers and sometimes garden centres. Locating seed for the San Marzano Redorta strain is not difficult especially if you search online.

Occasionally this variety is also available as pot grown tomato plants. Taking into account postage it is probably cheapest and easiest to buy them from your local garden centre.



If you need any more information on growing this variety, click here to go to our main tomato page.

Other varieties which may also be of interest include:

AILSA CRAIG
 
GARDENERS DELIGHT
 
SUNGOLD RED ALERT

COMMENTS / QUESTIONS LEFT BY OUR READERS

Sometimes our readers ask specific questions which are not covered in the main article above. Our
Outdoor Tomatoes comment / question and answer page
lists their comments, questions and answers. At the end of that page there is also a form for you to submit any new question or comment you have.