Friday, June 19, 2009

Six Tomatoes for Cooking and Preserving

Guest blogging today at the Practical Preserver is Teresa O’Connor. While I put together our book list, Teresa (who tweets as SeasonalWisdom) has the reins. You're in for a treat, as she shares her knowledge of that garden staple - the tomato. Welcome Teresa! Here's what she has to say:

Six Tomatoes for Cooking and Preserving

If you’re craving delicious homemade tomato sauces, pastes, salsas or ketchups – not to mention sun dried tomatoes – look no further than the paste tomatoes.

Beefsteaks, grape and cherry tomato varieties taste delicious in salads and on sandwiches. But when it comes to cooking and preserving, the paste tomatoes are typically the ones to pick.

Paste tomatoes have meatier flesh, fewer seeds and less water than other types. As a result, these varieties create a thicker juice and require less time to cook down to a paste consistency.

Of the many delicious paste tomatoes available, here are six super ones to try:

‘Roma’ – When you say “sauce tomato,” this is what most people hear. The popular heirloom is ideal for cooking and processing. Compact bush plants are prolific producers of 3 inch long fruit that tends to ripen all at once. (Determinate; 78 days)

‘San Marzano’ – In Italy, this heirloom is considered the premier variety for canning, tomato paste or puree. Bright red pear-shaped fruit has little juice and heavy, flavorful walls. Crack resistant, 2 to 3 inch tomatoes grow in clusters on productive plants. (Indeterminate; 80 days)

‘Grandma Mary’s Paste’ – Besides having a terrific name, this old variety has delicious 3 inch red tomatoes, which are perfect for cooking or eating fresh. Plants are very prolific. (Indeterminate; 70 days)

‘Purple Russian’ – All season long, this tasty heirloom produces dark purple oval fruit, which has a meaty, rich flavor ideal for processing. Four inch plum-shaped tomatoes grow on disease resistant plants. (Indeterminate; 80 days)

‘ Principe Borghese’ – This old Italian variety is famous for sun dried tomatoes. Red grape-shaped fruit is dry with few seeds, making it well suited for sauces too. Fruit grows in heavy clusters. (Determinate; 75 days)

‘Jaune Flammee’ – This prolific French heirloom is actually a globe tomato, not a paste. But the golden-yellow fruits with contrasting red interiors make lovely and delicious sun dried tomatoes. (Indeterminate; 70 to 90 days)

Author’s Note: Teresa O’Connor was trained as a master gardener in California and Idaho. You can read more of her gardening, seasonal folklore and healthy living tips at her blog:


  1. Hi Karen (and Teresa)
    Nice to have you back. I'm such a dingbat when it comes to food. I had no idea there were so many different kinds of tomatoes.
    Karen Walker

  2. You're making my mouth water! Wish my backyard tomatoes would grow faster...


  3. Miracle Grow works wonders,Elizabeth. I feel all-powerful when I'm out there sprinkling my little bluish-green concoction all around the garden. Sort of like spritzing with a perfume atomizer. I also do a short interpretive dance as I go along.

  4. I love making home made tomato sauce and barbeque sauce. Yummmm. Tis the season!

    Nancy, from Just a Thought…

  5. If it weren’t for my wife, a gourmet cook, I’d eat frozen hamburgers 8 nights a week. So, you can imagine my surprise when I saw what could be done with a simple tomato. It is one of my favorites, gotta admit.

    Best Regards, Galen

  6. Love the idea of a guest blogger here! Don't forget to use links within your posts :)


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~ I'm the author of Headwind: The Intrepid Adventures of OSS Agent Katrin Nissen. If you're a WWII buff, you'll like it here!