What is a paste tomato, also called “plum” or “sauce” tomato? These varieties are generally cylindrical in shape, and are the best suited of all tomatoes for cooking and preserving because their fruits produce fewer seed cavities and seeds, and have both lower water content and higher proportion of solid flesh than other tomatoes, which makes them preferable for cooking. Cooks and kitchen gardeners will not want to be without them. Of course, any tomato can be used for cooking, but the larger number of seeds, higher water content and less flesh all mean more work: seeds have to be removed and when cooked, more tomatoes have to be used to produce the same amount of cooked sauce.
For growing large numbers of tomatoes to preserve in a single batch try the oblong, red, waxy Roma, an heirloom version of the classic paste tomato frequently found at supermarkets. If you have had disease problems with Roma tomatoes, consider growing the Roma hybrid. Those who value optimal flavor over large volume should grow San Marzano Redorta, an heirloom tomato which produces extremely large oblong fruits with outstanding flavor. One or two San Marzano Redorta tomatoes make enough sauce for dinner!
Reminder: don’t refrigerate those paste tomatoes before throwing them in the cooking pot! Most gardeners and cooks know that tomatoes should not be refrigerated but many may not know why. Fruits native to warmer regions such as the tomato are typically injured by temperatures as low as the common house refrigerator. Their cells begin to malfunction and the uncontained enzyme action damages cell walls, develops undesirable flavors, and causes discoloration. It has been well documented that tomatoes deteriorate when stored below temperatures of 50°F for an extended period of time. For more about storing tomatoes read Why Don’t Your Refrigerate Tomatoes?
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