August 12, 2021

Of Tomatoes and Tomato Sauce

Does anyone grow paste tomatoes for making tomato sauce? I used to. I've grown Roma, San Marzano, and Amish Paste. I especially liked the flavor of the Amish Paste. But I found that paste tomatoes, no matter their variety, seem more susceptible to disease and other problems. So much so, that I finally gave up and stopped planting them.

I pick tomatoes while they are still somewhat green, and then let
them ripen on the countertop.  I have less bird damage that way.

The appeal of paste tomatoes is that they are fleshier and less juicy. That means it takes less cooking time to make sauce. Of course, any tomato can be used, the juicy ones just take longer to thicken. Also, because I freeze them to make sauce later, they tend to be watery when they defrost. I've learned to drain this tomato water and can it by itself, as an additive for soups and such. Kind of like the soup stock from vegetable scraps. Waste not, want not!

This year, I've had tons of cherry tomatoes. Last year I planted a few plants and they self-seeded so readily, that this year I have cherry tomatoes growing everywhere!

Matt's Wild Cherry Tomatoes and Eva Ball tomatoes.
Both varieties have done exceptionally well for me.

Since it's more than we can eat, I started adding them to my pizza sauce too. They are so flavorful, I figured they'd be great in sauce. Last week, I made my first batch containing cherry tomatoes and discovered that the sauce thickened up more quickly than it usually does!  

This morning's picking of tomatoes and okra.

I never thought about the juiciness of cherry tomatoes;. They are one-bite size, so we eat them whole in salads or scrambled in eggs. Mostly I just notice the flavor, but apparently, they are relatively meaty for their size!

I'm hoping the cherries grow a lot of volunteers next year too. Now that I know how great they are in tomato sauce, they are doubly appreciated.


  1. We grow paste tomatoes every year, and love them. The plants this year are small though and my cherry tomato plant is not producing much. I only plant one cherry but this is good to know.

  2. I grow a lovely paste tomato every year. So big, so velvety in texture and amazing flavor that I don't even grow slicers anymore. As for cooking. I slice in half, freeze, then later let them melt in a pot and as they release the clear liquid, I use a turkey baster to remove it from the pot (usually a couple quarts). Fast cooking then and only have to strain out the skins and seeds at the end. And yes, my snacking & cherry extras go in the pot too. Love me some tomatoes! Take care, Kris

  3. Good info, as always Leigh. I halve and dehydrate a good jar full of cherry toms to re-hydrate and put on winter pizzas, as they give a nice pop of flavour. Never even thought of adding them to sauces.

  4. I grow the larger cherry tomatoes and a lot of them. They're like tiny cherry tomatoes on steroids! I grow at least 6-8 plants every year. Simply love canning them for tomato sauce and of course they are a wonderful tomato for pairing with potatoes and garlic over a campfire. I do grow San Marzano, Amish Paste and Roma but my most dependable tomatoes are my cherry.

  5. I used to grow Roma plum tomatoes fir sauce. In fact I prefer them for salads too. Now I get them from the local farm. I live just a few miles from where a lot of famous varieties were developed, Cook College of Rutgers. We are in tomato country!

  6. I've planted both Roma and San Marzano tomatoes for years. I lean more towards the San Marzano because they are bigger. As you say they are prone to pests. To combat this I follow my one third method (2/3 for us & 1/3 for pests and disease about 60 plants). I used to get a harvest of 100% of our yearly needs. My new garden beds were not ready in time for tomatoes this year so I had to buy them this year. But looking forward to next summer.

    I love cherry tomatoes! Anything you can do with big tomatoes, you van do with their smaller cousins. They're just double the work getting it done.

  7. We grow paste tomatoes and some other heritage ones. Ours are still green, hoping for some soon! Homemade pizza is the best with fresh ones

  8. When planting tomatoes to preserve, we always plant some romas but when the day of preservation comes, I just toss all the tomatoes in the same pot. I put in the romas, the slicing and even the cherry tomatoes. To me, they are all the same except for as you mentioned, the water content and how long it takes to cook it down. I have never done flavor tests though that were scientific. I remember one year all we had were gobs of cherry tomatoes and I just pureed them in a blender and cooked them down to make some pints of sauce. I didn't mark them separately though and they got mixed in with the others and though at times I thought there might have been a particular tasty jar, I wasn't sure if it was the sauce itself or just the recipe.

  9. I love sun gold variety of cherry tomatoes . This year I have them plus a red pear cherry tomato. My son got several plants for me and himself at the FFA plant sale early in the season at the high school both my kiddos went to.

    Last year I had an abundance of cherry tomatoes this year I did not .
    so I kind of just snack on them when I’m out working in the garden and once in a while I throw a few at my chickens. But I can understand what you’re saying because of the thickness they have of the meat. they’re not constructed like a big tomato it’s a compact package here. So what you’re talking about makes good sense to me now if I can just grow enough to accomplish that end.

    Here’s to next years garden !

  10. I'm a little envious of all of you who can grow paste tomatoes. lol.

  11. Hi Leigh! :) Smart way to ripen your tomatoes! I have none this year, sigh. I planted some seeds but we've had so much rain I think they drowned. I remember though, the cherry tomatoes really growing well in the past!

  12. I have been saving juice from my canning routine for years. I save them in plastic cups, freeze the juice then store them in plastic bags in the freezer. This is the best base for vegetable soup, all year long. I recently used nearly a half pint of cherry tomatoes in a meat loaf. Just put them in the blender with some garlic, onion and peppers and added to the meat mixture. The loaf was so moist, I may be doing that again.

  13. I grow paste tomatoes because I prefer them for canning. I have regular ones as well, but they all go into the pot. Since I've started mulching with straw, I've found the garden has far fewer issues with disease. But the first tomato ripened today and before I could get to it, the chooks snapped it up and had a feast.

  14. I grew the most amazing tomatoes for sauce when I lived in Southern California. It is called Punta Banda, and it is from Native Seed Search in Arizona. They are small and meaty. I would fill a pot with them, cook it down and end up with half a pot of delicious sauce. I think it requires a $25.membership to get the seeds now, but I would be willing to pay it. They do so well in my arid climate. I need to get more seed next year. I am really bad at starting seeds indoors though.


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