Weekend Gardening: Tomato Journal, Paste Tomatoes

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Andrea Meyers - Paste Tomatoes: San Marzano, Roma, and Amish Paste

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This summer has brought us the best tomato harvest we’ve ever had. Though some of the plants are plodding along, our paste tomatoes are thriving and we’re bringing in a couple pounds a day. We have three types of paste tomatoes that do very well in our garden: San Marzano, Roma VF, and Amish Paste. We tried a new one this summer, Super Italian Paste, and I wanted to love it because it produces huge paste tomatoes that I can’t even get my fingers all the way around, but they have only ripened a few at a time and crack before they are fully ripe. So no more Super Italian Paste tomatoes for us.

Andrea Meyers - Homegrown San Marzano Tomatoes

The San Marzano tomatoes originate from Italy, though seeds can be purchased throughout the world. If you can only grow one type of paste tomato, I recommend these. The tomatoes are long and meaty with very little juice and seeds, and they have a lobed shape, usually with four sides that you can feel with your fingers. We have two plants that produce prolifically all the way to frost. They take a little longer to ripen, but I just watch the stem ends and pick as soon as the green on the tomato is all gone, even they are still a bit orange. There might be some green left under the skin, but I’ve found it nothing to worry about.

Andrea Meyers - Homegrown Roma Tomatoes

Roma VF is the most common variety of Roma tomatoes found in supermarkets all across the U.S. It’s a hybrid with resistance to some diseases, making it a good solid tomato to grow in the home garden. Like the San Marzano, they produce abundantly though they ripen a little earlier. We start getting these tomatoes around mid-July.

Andrea Meyers - Homegrown Amish Paste Tomatoes

This is our second year growing Amish Paste tomatoes, and what a treat they are. The fruits are smaller than Roma VF with a nice round shape. They look almost like large cherry tomatoes, and the flavor is fantastic for eating and cooking. The plants grow tall—ours are up to 9 feet—and the tops tend to lean over when fruiting, so support is very important.

All three are excellent cooking tomatoes, and below are some of our favorite recipes for them, including a no-cook pasta sauce.

Recipes with Paste Tomatoes

Andrea Meyers - Shrimp Creole Andrea Meyers - Huevos Rancheros Andrea Meyers - Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

Andrea Meyers - Zucchini and Tomato Gratin Andrea Meyers - San Marzano Sauce with Peppers Andrea Meyers - No-Cook Tomato Sauce

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  1. says

    I know the feeling. If I never see another tomato, it will be too soon. Last year there was almost no harvest, at all, and this year, they just won’t stop producing. I’ve been making sauces, dehydrating, powdering, and eating tomatoes until I’m almost afraid to look one in the eye. My paste tomatoes, Roma, came in and then finished up by the end of July, so I had plenty of space in the garden to plant some fall greens. I’m still getting tomatoes from my Early Girl tomatoes but have been very disappointed in the Big Boys. I don’t know if the signs got switched at the nursery, or what, but rarely did a tomato get over 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter. Great recipes. Thanks for sharing. Come visit when you can.

    • says

      Hi Sharlene T. Your tomato experience sounds like ours. We’ve dehydrated tomatoes but never powdered them. Sounds like an experiment for us to try.

  2. says

    Hi Andrea! I’m new to gardening – I just planted my first one this spring and its been so fun! One of my favorites are the cherokee reds, and they’ve been growing like crazy too! I need to get my hands on some San Marzano seeds for next year, those are my favorites to cook with and would be so great to have my own in my backyard :) Very jealous of all your tomatoes!

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