I discovered the Piennolo while working in an Italian restaurant. These little cherry tomatoes come packed in glass jars with their thick skin intact. The thick skin is what preserves the fresh flavor throughout the canning process and is a huge part of the magic of these tomatoes, but when it was my job to peel each one by hand I hated them.
I didn't care how delicious they were. I didn't care that they were the sweetest, most flavorful tomato I had. I hated peeling them so they were my enemy.
Now that I don't work there anymore and don't have to peel jar after jar for hundreds of diners, I love these tomatoes. They will leave you ruined for all other tomatoes. After peeling, they only have to be gently crushed by hand and lightly seasoned with olive oil and salt for the best tomato sauce ever. It's the only tomato I will put on a pizza.
They are called Piennolo after the traditional custom of tying loops to gather the tomatoes into large clusters to hang. When hung in a dry, dark space, the thick skin allowed the tomatoes to last months without modern preservation techniques and minimal alteration to the flavor of the tomato. This unique attribute made the Piennolo a historical favorite. The Piennolo are culitivated on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius, where the rich volcanic soil results in a high acid and high sugar tomato. The cultivation of these tomatoes have been well documented dating back to ancient times.
They are still farmed in the traditional way in an entirely sustainable and organic approach. The Piennolo have been awarded DOC status (Protected Designation of Origin) by the European Union. This title is designated to safeguard traditional, high-quality products. The purpose is to protect the reputation of the product and support the local producers by assuring they get a fair price for their premium product.
You can purchase a jar of Piennolo tomatoes for you next pizza here
. Would you try these tomatoes?