by Bethany Hayes
Tomatoes are the most popular summer vegetable, and like any other veggie, tomatoes come in different varieties. From black to orange and all colors in between, tomatoes come in more varieties than we think, and if you want to turn your homegrown tomatoes into a delicious sauce, make sure you grow some of the best tomatoes for tomato sauce.
Until I grew several cultivars of heirloom tomatoes, I never realized that tomatoes aren’t all the same. Some tomatoes are best for slicing, while others make more flavorful tomato sauce.
If you plan to use your homegrown tomatoes to create pots full of homemade tomato sauce, make sure you grow a few of these tomato cultivars. The sauce will be full of flavor.
The 10 Best Tomatoes for Tomato Sauce
Not all tomatoes are created equal. Here are some of the best tomatoes to grow for making tomato sauce.
1. San Marzano
San Marzano is a prized, Italian, heirloom tomato for over 100 years. It’s the perfect tomato for sauce because it has low water content. That means you have to boil these tomatoes for a shorter period to develop the thick consistency needed for tomato sauce.
Chefs love San Marzano tomatoes because they have fewer seeds than other types and plenty of flesh, which is needed to thicken the sauce naturally.
If you want to add San Marzano tomatoes to your home garden, make sure you have a sunny, sheltered location. These plants need to be warm, so many prefer to grow them inside of greenhouses or containers. Expect a harvest from mid-June to early October.
Roma tomatoes are a classic; it’s hard to beat them. This popular tomato is primarily used to create tomato paste and sauce, making a delicious base. Romas have firm, thick flesh and few seeds.
Vining tomatoes like Romas are a bit problematic if you want to use primarily only these to create sauces. Only a few fruits ripen at one time, so unless you have several of the same plants producing simultaneously, you’ll need to freeze the tomatoes and make the sauce later.
One benefit of Romas is that they’re relatively disease resistant. While they grow well in greenhouses and inside containers, they thrive in sunny, outside locations. Ensure strong support for these plants, or the vines might snap before the fruit ripens.
Giulietta is a large, egg-shaped, Italian plum tomato that fruits from July to September. It grows well in greenhouses and cool conditions, as well as sunny outside spots.
One thing to know is that Giulietta tomato plants are large, typically reaching up to six feet tall. They require some staking to avoid falling over on the ground. The plants are indeterminate, producing large yields.
4. Super Italian Paste
Here is another Italian heirloom tomato that produces reddish-orange fruits with thick, meaty flesh and few seeds. This combination makes it clear as to why it is a favorite for making tomato sauce.
These are vining tomatoes that don’t all ripen at the same time. They grow well in pots, but if you want to use these as a primary base for your tomato sauce, it’s best to grow several of them, starting at different time frames, to spread out your harvest.
Super Italian Paste tomatoes’ major problem is that they are vulnerable to blossom end rot caused by a calcium deficiency in the soil. Be sure not to keep the plants too wet, or late blight will develop.
5. Viva Italia
Many chefs and gardeners swear by this variety of tomatoes for making a sauce. Viva Italia tomatoes are a great all-around choice because they have an excellent raw flavor, but their flavor increases once cooked.
This cultivar loves hot weather, growing well in warmer climates. Once planted in the spring, expect your first fruits to be ready after 90 days. It’s an easy to grow plant that handles growing in-ground gardens as well as containers. Make sure you provide a stake or support system for optimal growth.
6. Big Mama
As you might have guessed from the name, Big Mama tomatoes are large and in charge. These plants produce a high yield of tomatoes, with the first fruits developing 90 to 110 days after planting.
Big Mama tomatoes are lemon-shaped with easy-to-peel-skin after boiling. That makes it even easier to use these fruits to make tomato sauce less fussy. Peeling tomato skins is never a fun task.
Chefs like this tomato because it has high flesh density with few seeds. However, it has a higher moisture level, so it needs more time to boil down or should be used for soups.
These aren’t small plants, so make sure you provide adequate support for the plants, or they’ll topple over. Make sure the soil has plenty of drainage, or the plant won’t grow well.
7. Amish Paste
Amish Paste tomatoes are quite similar to Roma tomatoes in shape and texture. They’re a classic paste tomato with a firm, meaty flesh, and few seeds. The key difference between Roma and Amish Paste tomatoes is that the latter has a sweeter, fresher flavor that some prefer in their sauce.
These tomatoes date back at least 150 years, tracing back to Amish communities in Wisconsin and Pennslyvania. The Amish developed this tomato to be the perfect canning tomato, so you know it’s a great choice if the ultimate self-sufficient community prefers it.
These tomatoes reach up to 12 ounces, which is considered large for a paste tomato. The plants are large and require staking. Expect a harvest within 90 days after transplanting.
8. Costoluto Genovese
Here is another Italian cultivar that is perfect for tomato sauce. Costoluto Genovese tomatoes are known for having intense flavor, making them ideal for a slicing tomato for sandwiches and a sauce tomato.
Costoluto Genovese also has a high acid content, which makes safely canning easier. The tomatoes reach up to eight ounces with heavy lobes and thick, meaty flesh.
Expect these plants to produce their harvest within 80 days after transplanting. Since this variety is indeterminate, it continues to grow throughout the entire growing season.
Opalka is a Polish, heirloom tomato, known for being rich and flavorful, more so than other paste tomatoes. These tomatoes are perfect for making tomato sauce because they have few seeds, thick flesh, and intense flavor.
Opalka tomatoes are great for processing; they stand up to the process well. They have a long, pepper-shape, reaching up to six inches long.
This tomato plant is indeterminate, so the fruit ripens throughout the entire season. It takes around 85 days after transplanting for the fruits to develop on the plant.
10. Jersey Giant
Here is an heirloom paste tomato that is hard to find, but it’s a fantastic option for gardeners if you can find it. Jersey Giant tomato plants produce heavy yields, and the fruits measure around six inches long.
This New Jersey canning tomato has meaty, rich flesh that is much tastier than modern paste types. The fruits have few seeds, making it even easier to create the desired consistency for tomato sauce.
If you stumble upon these plants or seeds, know that Jersey Giant tomatoes have an indeterminate growth habit and produce fruits 80-90 days after transplanting.
If you’re growing tomatoes to make homemade sauce, make sure you grow some of the best tomatoes for tomato sauce. These cultivars have meaty, rich flesh with fewer seeds, the perfect combination for making the right sauce consistency. Be sure to give a few of these a try!