One of the things that many gardeners enjoy growing fresh tomatoes for is to make sauces. Whether it’s a favorite spaghetti topping, a fun salad garnish, or a thick pasty sauce for any of a number of cultural recipes, growing your own tomatoes for it is the way to go. Some tomatoes are better than others for sauces, and are usually known as sauce tomatoes, or paste tomatoes. Here are some of the best varieties:
Sauce Tomato Varieties
For a tomato to be a good sauce variety, it should be robust in flavor and have a thick, meaty flesh.
- Aunt Lacy’s Italian Paste Tomato is an Italian immigrant heirloom that bears meaty, tasty tomatoes that makes great pastes when rendered.
- Big Mamma is an indeterminate vine tomato hybrid that is in the beefsteak family. It produces huge orbs and their medium-mild flavor makes them a good option for filler in a large recipe.
- Grandma Mary Tomato is a very productive plant that produces pepper-like tomatoes of about three inches in thin 1-1/2 ounce sizes. An excellent indeterminate for backyard growing and rich sauce making.
- Jolly Elf is a cherry tomato variety known for its extremely sweet taste and prolific production. Very common throughout North America as a table and salad tomato, it is also useful in sauces that require a sweet offset to the tomato flavor.
- Oroma is a popular variety in the northwestern U.S. with a prolific productivity and relatively fast growth. These are flavor-rich tomatoes.
- Principe Borghese is a traditional Italian tomato that is often sold in stores dried. It’s thick, rich flavor is prized for many dishes and seeds are now becoming available in North America for growing in seaboard climes.
- Purple Russian is a very dark, oval-shaped tomato that grows to about 2-3 inches in diameter. They contain a thick juice with great tomato flavor and a hint of smoke. Popular for sauces.
- Ropreco Paste was given its name for its thick, juicy center. This vividly tasty tomato is one of the most popular sauce varieties grown in the U.S. It’s an offshoot of the most popular sauce tomato in Italy, the Ropreco.
- San Marzano is an Italian immigrant tomato with a very compact size and prolific production. They are plum-type tomatoes that bear fruit over a long season and are very popular for chef’s pastes in New York, but will grow just about anywhere in the U.S.
- Saucey is one of the better-known sauce varieties. Like its name, this tomato is juicy and plump and grows well in the northwestern United States. They are finnicky growers sometimes, but thrive even in cloudy conditions.
- Viva Italia is a popular tomato type in the northern United States and southern Canada. It has a thick, juicy pulp that is popular for sauce making. Flavor is mildly rich and the plants are generally cold-tolerant.
Preserving Sauce Tomatoes
There are several ways to preserve sauce tomatoes, either as a tomato or as a sauce or paste. As a tomato, most will keep for a week or so in a refrigerator and nearly all can be frozen whole or in slices/chunks. Many cooks prefer frozen tomatoes that have been sliced or diced and frozen in their own juice (no additives). You can also render them down to sauce or paste when fresh, and then can or jar them for freezer or shelf storage.