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Apr 20, 2009 08:42 AM

Which paste tomato for making sauce?

I have not planted tomatoes the last few years for a number of reasons. Now I am interested in planting them with the intent of making tomato sauce and "putting up" for use later. Anyone out there "swear" by a particular tomato variety for sauce making? I am looking at the "paste" types (Roma?) and preferably something not too obscure. I intend to purchase plants, as its a little too late for me to start from seed. Thanks in advance.

And FWIW I am so glad that this board is here!

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  1. Your best bet is to go to a local reputable nursery in your area and find out what the favorite paste tomato plant is there. I have grown dozens of tomatoes - all started from seed - over the years, but always with a view to eating rather than caning. Roma is a safe and popular variety.

    Another is Amish Paste's a picture:

    Here's a page of paste tomatoes from Burpee's site. They also sell seedlings on-line:

    2 Replies
    1. re: Gio

      Thanks, Gio! I have never heard of the "stargazers" company, and boy am I glad you posted that link. It has some great heirloom varieties, something else that I am interested in.

      1. re: mkmccp

        You're Welcome! Glad I could help a bit.

        Now, if you were looking for a seed company.... Johnny's of Maine but my very favorite is: Seeds of Change:

        Good Luck with everything.

    2. I'm in the MId-Atlantic and have had dependable good luck, year after year with plain old Roma tomatoes. No disease problems and there was only one horrible year that I had cutworms. They grow so vigorously, that it's almost a race to keep them tied up to the stakes, and the output is substantial.

      BTW, I cold pack them and can them as-is, rather than making sauce. The sauce has to be pressure canned, while the plain tomatoes can be water bath canned. I can then use the tomatoes all winter in a variety of dishes and/or make a quick sauce when I want it.

      5 Replies
      1. re: MakingSense

        One peice of advice if your looking for soemthing odd, DON"T try Green Sausage (a "green when ripe" plum tomato found in a lot of heirloom tomato collections.) I tried this one year excited by the possiblity of serving bright green tomato sauce. What no one told me was that when heated ALL tomato juices colors chage twords orange-red (white or yellow become orange, pink and black, purple and/or mahongany turn red ) green tomato juice whe cooked turns a rather unpleasant olivey/khaki color not something inspring you to want to eat it. The taste wasn't so great either.

        1. re: jumpingmonk

          Yep. Sad fact is that I don't like the taste of a lot of heirlooms either. There are hundreds if not thousands of them, some of which are nothing but horticultural curiosities.
          I grow vegetables for flavor. Period. My second consideration is dependability and some heirlooms are a real PITA because they're more likely to get diseases in my hot, humid climate. Nasty funguses, etc.
          Over the past decade or so, I've pretty much stuck to Roma for canning. Totally dependable with a strong crop.
          I'm trying San Marzano and S. Marzano Redota this year for part of the crop but have to start them from seeds. So far they look pretty weak. I've never been a good seed starter so this may not work very well. At least there are stores, so I won't go hungry next winter.

          1. re: MakingSense

            I agree on your statment that heirloom done not automatically equal good. Pretty much all of the tomatoes I like are heirlooms, but I have chosen them based on my own personal tastes; for every one I like there are porably ten or twenty I have tried and said something between "eh" (not bad but nothing really special) and "yuck". I am all for preservation of biodiversity, and love the fact that non-hybrid vegetables mead I can save my own seed and thefore only need to find each type I like ONCE as opposed to every year, but in my opion some strains fell out of favor for a reason.
            Icidentally MakingSense, if your problem is a hot humid environment (and you are not totally turned agaist odd heirlooms) you may want to seek out a tomato variety called Naraclang. It's a black fruited variety from the Phillipines that was specifcally bred for a hot humid climate (basically it was bred for growing in rainforest climates during the monsoon season) It has some nifty adaptaions like droopy flowers that shed rain (and therefore dont get waterlogged and rot or drop.) Don't really have any good leads on where to get seed (I got mine from a seller on ebay but his store is up at the moment) but if you do bump into it it may be worth a try.

            1. re: jumpingmonk

              Thanks for the lead on Naraclang. I couldn't find it but will keep looking.
              The problem is usually not the rain but the humid air on an island in the Chesapeake. I actually wish we got more rain! The storms seem to divide and go around us, soaking everything North and South, leaving us dry. Drives me crazy!
              This year I'm trying Creoles, the tomato I grew up with in New Orleans, bred for that hot humid climate. Not unusual to have 100% humidity with the sun shining and 90+ degrees.
              A terrific source for heirloom tomato seeds and info is this company which has over 600 varieties:

              1. re: MakingSense

                Have had dealing with them for years. In fact I have a few old packets from them that contain varieties they dont even sell anymore (like green zebra orginal strain). that I really should get to planting this year before they are get to old and I permanently lose them.

      2. I know a lot of people who swear by the Roma. We heard the lady at our favorite pizza place extolling the virtues of San Marzano, so we grew some of them last year. I don't know if it was purely psychological, but they were great -- a litle sweeter than other tomatoes, but not excessively; and not as seedy.

        We planted seeds by late May/early June and had a nice September/early October harvest. (Live in New England, so season length is a crapshoot, but last year it worked out okay.)

        1. Go to the following website...

          The company is located in Fort Myers, FL. I've ordered from them, but chile seeds since I grow the incendiary pods. The online catalog is great, and the company specializes in tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.

          1. Since you need plants, you'll probably be limited to one of the Roma varieties in a garden store, but you might luck out and find San Marzano or Amish Paste. Next year you should consider Opalka. I grow it every year. It's a true paste type, but it tastes exceptionally good raw. If I could only grow one tomato it would be Opalka.

            I second Chilidude's recommendation of Tomato Growers Supply as a seed source and for window shopping. Sorry, they don't sell plants.