The Best Paste Tomatoes to Grow

You can use any tomato for making a sauce, but starting with paste tomatoes means less time reducing them down on the stove. Paste tomatoes have a denser, drier flesh and few seeds, making them meaty, thick and ready to turn into a rich sauce.

The texture is only half the battle, though. You also want flavor. Some paste tomatoes, unfortunately, can be bland. Others are flavorful enough to do double duty as fresh eating tomatoes.

Here are nine sauce-worthy paste tomatoes to try in your garden.

 

  • 01 of 09

    Amish Paste

    Close-up of an Amish Paste Tomato

    Marie Iannotti

    This is a popular heirloom favorite with seed savers. It’s similar to a ‘Roma,’ with more fresh flavor. The juicy fruits can be plum-shaped, or lean more toward oxheart, and plump up to a decent 8-12 oz. ’Amish Paste’ was selected for the Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste.  (Indeterminate, 80 - 85 days)

     

  • 02 of 09

    Black Prince

    A black prince tomato

    F. D. Richards/Flickr/CC By 2.0

    Black Prince heirloom is a good choice for gardeners in cool climates. It has a long harvest season, with roundish 3 - 5 oz. fruits that fill out to about 3 inches around. Nice fresh or processed. The seed used to be difficult to find, but its popularity has made them more available. (Indeterminate, 70-85 days)

  • 03 of 09

    Italian Gold

    A close-up of gold tomatoes

    Marie Iannotti

    It’s always fun to make a sauce out of a non-red tomato and watch the faces at the dinner table. ‘Italian Gold’ is a compact plant with clusters of 5 oz. pear-shaped fruits. The fruits are high in pectin, which makes them nice and thick for canning or freezing. They also have a subtle fruity taste you’d expect from a yellow tomato. (Determinate, 75 - 80 days)

  • 04 of 09

    Opalka

    A close-up of Opalka tomatoes

    Marie Iannotti

    This is a Polish heirloom that was given to tomato guru Carolyn Male by a co-worker. They set huge clusters of 3-4 in. dense and flavorful fruits, which tends to stress the plants and cause the foliage to decline. Don't worry; they will hold on as the fruits slowly ripen in succession, on the vine. (Indeterminate, 85 days)

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Polish Linguisa

    Close-up of Polish Linguisa tomato

    Merrill Johnson/flickr/CC By 2.0

    Another Polish heirloom tomato that deserves praise is the sausage-shaped 'Polish Linguisa.' It produces abundant 10 oz. tomatoes that are high in sugar. The flesh is dense but less firm than many paste tomatoes. The flavor is very good, but the big surprise here is how prolific the plants are. (Indeterminate, 75 days)

     

  • 06 of 09

    Principe Borghese

    Close-up of some Principe Borghese tomatoes

    graibeard/flickr/CC By 2.0

    Principe Borghese is an odd little tomato, with extremely dry, dense flesh. Because of its low water content, Principe Borghese is often billed as being perfect for drying, while still on the vine. Although this tomato does indeed dry beautifully, gardeners in humid areas should not attempt to let them dry on their own. They will mold before they dry. However, it does make a flavorful paste tomato. You'll need several plants, because the fruits, although plentiful, are only a couple of inches long. (Determinate, 75 - 80 days)

  • 07 of 09

    San Marzano

    A close-up of San Marzano tomatoes

    Jim Lukach/flickr/CC By 2.0

    This is THE classic paste tomato, and even the canned varieties are popular with picky chefs. To be an authentic 'San Marzano,' the tomato has to be grown in 'San Marzano' (the same way sparkling wine can only be called Champagne if it’s grown in the Champagne region of France.) In its namesake town, the plants are grown in volcanic soil, which keeps the acid level low. Cans of authentic 'San Marzano' tomatoes will be labeled with a Denominazione d' Origine Protetta (DOP). We might not have those growing conditions, but 'San Marzano' is still a great paste tomato, with dense, almost dry, sweet fruits that grow to about 3 1/2 in. long. Low on water and seeds, it does not take long to reduce into a thick sauce. Very productive, with some disease Resistance. (Indeterminate, 80 days)

  • 08 of 09

    Saucy

    A close-up of saucy tomatoes

    Marie Iannotti

    This is another compact plant with high yields. The fruits are small, 2 - 3 oz., but come in clusters of 5 or more. ‘Saucy’ was bred at Oregon State University, by Dr. James Bagget, from a cross with 'Roma.' It has meaty flesh, but with a classic tomato flavor. There’s enough juice to use saucy fresh, in something like salsa. It mixes well, without falling apart. It also has good disease resistance. (Determinate, 70 - 80 days)

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Sausage

    A close-up of sausage tomatoes

    Jill Clardy/Flickr/CC By 2.0

     Aptly named for the shape of its fruits, 'Sausage' tomatoes can grow 5- 6 in. long. The red variety has a nice depth of flavor. There is also a ‘Green Sausage’ that ripens green with yellow splotches and has a tangier taste than the red. (Indeterminate, 80 days)

As paste tomatoes ripen, put them in freezer bags and toss them in the freezer. At the end of the season, when it’s not so hot in my kitchen, thaw them out and make all the sauce at once. The skins pull right off, and any excess water is left in the bags. Use the leftover tomato water to make a vegetable stock. Nothing is wasted!