Introducing Piennolo; totally tasty tomatoes from Campania
Have you ever wondered why many supermarket-purchased tomatoes in the UK are so tasteless? You know what it’s like – you go on holiday somewhere in the Mediterranean, (the Campania region of Italy is our preference, of course!) There you are, on a sun-dappled terrace overlooking the Bay of Naples, you order a Caprese Salad and it’s utterly sublime. The tomatoes have an intense sweet-yet-tart flavour and are the deepest scarlet-red, which contrasts so beautifully with the white of the mozzarella di bufala and the vibrant green of the basil leaves, perfectly reflecting the colours of the Italian flag.
So, when you get home, you think you’ll make one of these salads yourself, but the tomatoes you buy are pale almost to the point of transparency and taste like…well, nothing very much apart from acidic water, and disappointment is hardly an adequate word to express your feelings. It’s just the same when you try to recreate a home-made salsa di pomodoro for your pasta, and for that, we have the perfect answer.
Pomodorino del Piennolo del Vesuvio
While we can’t bring you tomatoes straight from the vine, we have captured the sunshine taste and freshness of the Piennolo tomato in a jar for your delectation.
These little beauties are only cultivated in 18 communes, at high altitude on the mineral-rich lava soils around Mount Vesuvius, bathed in intense sunlight for most of their growing period. The variety was granted Denominazione di Origine Protetta (DOP) status in 2009, which translates literally as Protected Designation of Origin, and it’s not hard to see why, or rather taste why.
The tomatoes are collected in clusters and, traditionally, tied up with hemp string and hung from balconies and rafters in the characteristic shape of a piennolo or pendulum.
They’re small tomatoes with a characteristic shape – oval, narrowing to a pointed tip. With their thick skin and firm flesh, they can be stored for a long time. After about a month, they’re sliced and chopped before preserving and their flavour and fragrance become more intense with every day that passes, which is why they’re so very good from a jar.
And to return to my original comment about tasteless tomatoes…
Piennolo tomatoes are everything tomatoes should be, grown in small quantities with love and passion, in a sunny climate, on soil which nurtures them. Together, these conditions produce a fruit with an unrivalled intensity of flavour, sweet, salty and acidic at the same time. They are a traditional variety, their cultivation recorded as long ago as 1858.
Conversely, large-scale commercial tomato farmers are more interested in revenue and yield than in tradition and quality. Cultivars are selected for size – because, apparently, consumers prefer big tomatoes – and for firmness, to make transporting them without damage easier. The quality of flavour has somehow been overlooked…
I know which tomatoes I’d choose, and I’m sure you’ll agree.
Our Piennolo tomatoes come in 330g jars and are perfect to use when making a simple sauce for your pasta, best heated only briefly to maintain the wonderful freshness of taste. And if you crush them lightly with a fork, you can put them on to a pizza base without the need for a sauce at all.
La Torrente Pacchetella Di Pomodorino Del Piennolo Del Vesuvio DOP- the taste of summer holidays in a jar – just for you.
Try them with our monkfish recipe below.
Click here to buy a jar or 2