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.
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.
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.
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.