Paste tomatoes are often called Roma tomatoes. They are popular with some gardeners but not with others. Have you wondered what paste tomatoes are and why you should grow them?
Paste tomatoes are normally used for making tomato paste. They are also particularly useful for making sauces and for drying. They are different from other tomato varieties in that they contain less water and have fewer seeds. They also have a different shape from regular tomatoes.
What are the Major Differences between Paste Tomatoes and Other Varieties?
Here are some of the major ways that paste tomatoes differ from other types of tomatoes.
- They have lower water content.
- Most paste tomatoes have fewer seeds.
- Paste tomatoes have an elongated shape rather than round.
- They have a more intense flavor.
- These tomatoes have meaty flesh and quite thick skin. This makes them easier to peel.
- A wide variety of paste tomatoes like the Roma have a lower acid content.
- Paste tomatoes are also very easy to crush and reduce when making pastes or sauces.
- Their texture is more grainy when compared to other tomato varieties.
- Paste tomatoes are also better for making sun-dried tomatoes due to their lower water content.
- All paste tomato varieties are determinate. This means that they will only grow to a certain height and then start producing flowers and fruit. This means you’ll have to harvest all the ripe tomatoes at the same time, and you’ll usually only get one harvest.
- Paste tomato plants don’t have to be pruned due to their determinate growth habit.
Why do Gardeners Grow Paste Tomatoes?
Many home gardeners grow paste tomatoes because they want to either can them or make tomato paste from them. Because of their lower water content, they are ideal for this purpose. When you purchase canned tomatoes at the grocery store, you’ll find that they are Roma or paste tomatoes.
Another good use of paste tomatoes is to stuff them. The seed cavities inside these types of tomatoes are more hollow, and it’s easier to scoop out the flesh. This means that the stuffing that you use won’t be watered down.
6 Reasons why you should be Growing Paste Tomatoes
If I haven’t convinced you yet to grow paste tomatoes, here are six primary reasons why you should be growing these beauties in your own garden.
1. You’ll get a Bountiful Harvest
Because most paste tomatoes are determinate, you can expect a plentiful harvest when it comes time to pick your fruit. You will find that most of the tomatoes will ripen around the same time within only a few days of each other.
This is ideal if you want a big harvest of tomatoes to make some excellent tomato sauce for your pasta, some tantalizing salsa, or a rich tomato paste to use on pizza.
2. Fruits Ripen Late in the Season
If you’re into canning or preserving your produce, you’ll understand that a late harvest is great. This is usually the time when you’ll have all your preserving tools and utensils ready and waiting for that bumper harvest.
3. Paste Tomatoes are Ideal for Slow Roasting
If you’ve never tried slow-roasted tomatoes, you’re in for a treat if you try this method:
- Slice the tomatoes in half.
- Place them on a baking tray that you’ve lined with parchment paper.
- Season with salt and pepper and drizzle lightly with some olive oil.
- Set your oven temperature to around 275 degrees Fahrenheit (135 degrees Celsius).
- Roast your tomatoes for around five hours.
- Take the tomatoes out of the oven and let them cool.
- Once cool, place them in an airtight container or plastic freezer bag in a single layer.
- Pop them into the freezer to use during winter on bruschetta, pizza, or to add to pasta dishes.
4. Dry your Tomatoes and Make Tomato Powder
Paste tomatoes are also great for dehydrating in your food dehydrator. They’ll take far less time than other tomato varieties. All you have to do is slice them and place them in a single layer on the trays.
Place them in the dehydrator and dry until they’re crisp and have no moisture content left. The time will vary depending on the type of dehydrator that you have.
Once your dried tomatoes have cooled down, you can grind them up into a coarse powder using a coffee grinder or other processor. Then, you want to spread the powder onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place it in a very slow oven for around half an hour or so. This will remove any moisture that might still be there.
Let this cool and then place into a clean jar and store in your pantry. Once you make tomato powder, you’ll be amazed at all the ways that you can use this in your cooking.
5. You can Make a Great Tomato Sauce in Half an Hour
Unlike when you use other types of tomatoes, with paste tomatoes, you can make a flavorsome tomato sauce in around half an hour. You can use the sauce straight away to serve over pasta, or you can easily freeze it and use it at another time. Or, make a big batch, use some for tonight’s dinner and freeze the rest.
Here’s how to make a quick tomato sauce:
- Peel the tomatoes and cut them open to remove the seeds.
- Chop the tomatoes roughly.
- In a large pan, saute some chopped onion and garlic in a little oil.
- Add the tomatoes to the pan and cover.
- Cook until the tomatoes are soft and fall apart easily.
- Take the lid off the pan and simmer until the sauce has thickened to the consistency that you want.
Expert tip: If you freeze the leftover sauce in ice cube trays first and then put them into a plastic bag, it will be easier to get just the right portion that you need for your next meal.
6. Paste Tomatoes can be Frozen Whole
If you’ve had a bumper harvest and you’re short on time, you’ll be happy to know that paste tomatoes can be frozen whole. All you have to do is place them in an airtight container or a plastic freezer bag and pop them into the freezer.
Another benefit of doing this is that the skins will peel away much easier once you take the tomatoes out of the freezer to use in your cooking.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you eat paste tomatoes raw in salads and sandwiches?
Of course. Paste tomatoes are still packed full of flavor, but they are not as juicy as other tomatoes. However, if you only have paste tomatoes on hand, it’s perfectly fine to throw them into a salad or put them on a sandwich.
Can you use other types of tomatoes for canning or making tomato paste?
You can use any type of tomato for canning or for making tomato paste or sauce. You will find, though, that you’re going to have to cook them for a great deal longer to evaporate the high water content.