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TexasGardenGirl
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Looking for the best tomato for sauces

Well, after a bought of very bad luck with tomatoes and stumbling upon the tomato taste and compare thread here, I've begun rethinking which types of tomatoes will replace the ones that didn't make transplanting.

After reading through the taste and compare thread I realized I didn't know there were so many different kinds of tomatoes. So, I'd love to hear what your favorite varieties for sauces are. I'll be using them for Italian food. I always thought the go to sauce tomato was the roma but I keep reading they just don't have much taste. I guess they're more bland and have too much "grocery store tomato" taste to them. I don't want that! I want to learn to enjoy tomatoes! Only thin that sucks is I have to get already established plants. So, if possible what varieties that are typically available at local nurseries or (shudder) big box stores actually have good taste? I really want to try something new. So, please, please share your knowledge! What tomatoes should I try for sauces? And, if you want to go another step, what types should a professed "raw tomato hater" try? Thanks very much in advance!

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Re: Looking for the best tomato for sauces

I don't have a list, but there is one that I am growing this year called San Marzano and it is recommended of sauces. It's a heirloom tomato variety similar to a Roma.
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Re: Looking for the best tomato for sauces

Taste is a subjective thing. Since you are a "raw tomato hater", I would suggest going with a sweeter hybrid type as opposed to the traditionally popular rich heirloom type on tomato sites.
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Re: Looking for the best tomato for sauces

I like intense tomato flavor, such as the flavor of sundried tomatoes. I can find sundried tomatoess. They are expensive so I don't buy them very often. I haven't been able to find tomato powder made from ground up dehydrated tomatoes locally. So I am going to make some when I harvest my tomatoes this year. Tomato powder is great for sauces and soups.
I buy Near East spanish rice mix which includes a flavoring packet of tomato powder with dehydrated onions, etc. Sometime I make a cup of soup from the flavoring packet, without adding the rice at all. The intense tomato flavor is what I love most about it. I found tomato powder abailable online. I am going to try making my own first.
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Re: Looking for the best tomato for sauces

My favourite are Beefsteak tomatoes. I add them to sauces, simply slice them, serve in sandwiches, or add them to stew. They are very fleshy and juicy and exactly what I love in my sauces!
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TexasGardenGirl
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Re: Looking for the best tomato for sauces

BirdLover wrote:I like intense tomato flavor, such as the flavor of sundried tomatoes. I can find sundried tomatoess. They are expensive so I don't buy them very often. I haven't been able to find tomato powder made from ground up dehydrated tomatoes locally. So I am going to make some when I harvest my tomatoes this year. Tomato powder is great for sauces and soups.
I buy Near East spanish rice mix which includes a flavoring packet of tomato powder with dehydrated onions, etc. Sometime I make a cup of soup from the flavoring packet, without adding the rice at all. The intense tomato flavor is what I love most about it. I found tomato powder abailable online. I am going to try making my own first.
So, what exactly is "tomato" flavor? I've never been able to get past texture of the grocery store kinds. I always find them mushy and slimey. So, what exactly is this "tomato flavor" I keep reading about? I just don't understand what that really means. Can you help describe it?

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MichaelC
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Re: Looking for the best tomato for sauces

While San Marzano is the classic, I've found Amish Paste to be even better. I grew San Marzano last summer, and I'm still making sauces with packages I froze!

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TexasGardenGirl
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Re: Looking for the best tomato for sauces

MichaelC wrote:While San Marzano is the classic, I've found Amish Paste to be even better. I grew San Marzano last summer, and I'm still making sauces with packages I froze!
If I don't end up with new tomato plants for mother's day (what a wonderful gift that'd be!) then I may give Amish paste or San Marzano a try. There's 3 other varieties I'd like to give a try this year if I can get them ordered by next week. I'm really grateful the growing season is pretty decent here.

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Re: Looking for the best tomato for sauces

Texas wrote:
"So, what exactly is "tomato" flavor? I've never been able to get past texture of the grocery store kinds. I always find them mushy and slimey. So, what exactly is this "tomato flavor" I keep reading about? I just don't understand what that really means. Can you help describe it?"

Tomato flavor is hard to describe. You know it when you taste it. There is a big difference between tomatoes from the mainstream grocery stores and home grown garden tomatoes. There is more variety and flavor in home grown tomatoes. All produce is that way. It is like the difference between night and day. I have found that low cost, low quality produce is rather tasteless, stale and unappealing. Fresh vegetables that are grown right don't need salt and cheese sauce to give them flavor.
Myself, I have had good experiences with organically grown heirloom tomatoes. I am going to try that Amish Paste tomato next. It sound like it is right up my alley.
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MichaelC
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Re: Looking for the best tomato for sauces

TexasGardenGirl wrote:If I don't end up with new tomato plants for mother's day (what a wonderful gift that'd be!) then I may give Amish paste or San Marzano a try. There's 3 other varieties I'd like to give a try this year if I can get them ordered by next week. I'm really grateful the growing season is pretty decent here.
The thing with plum tomatoes is that they're very prone to blossom end rot. Not only did I have to throw away a lot of San Marzano fruit, but often the rot was hidden and I didn't discover it until I cut the end off. But I did get many good pounds from two plants.

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TexasGardenGirl
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Re: Looking for the best tomato for sauces

BirdLover wrote:Texas wrote:
"So, what exactly is "tomato" flavor? I've never been able to get past texture of the grocery store kinds. I always find them mushy and slimey. So, what exactly is this "tomato flavor" I keep reading about? I just don't understand what that really means. Can you help describe it?"

Tomato flavor is hard to describe. You know it when you taste it. There is a big difference between tomatoes from the mainstream grocery stores and home grown garden tomatoes. There is more variety and flavor in home grown tomatoes. All produce is that way. It is like the difference between night and day. I have found that low cost, low quality produce is rather tasteless, stale and unappealing. Fresh vegetables that are grown right don't need salt and cheese sauce to give them flavor.
Myself, I have had good experiences with organically grown heirloom tomatoes. I am going to try that Amish Paste tomato next. It sound like it is right up my alley.
I guess comparing mainstream, grocery store tomatoes to home grown is like comparing apples and oranges. I do love the differences when I cook home grown vs store bought veggies like okra or zucchini or green beans. Those 3 plus tomatoes are what my family always grew. But I never would try the tomatoes. I was convinced they were all the same and "gross" because my family did grow the big, round slicing tomatoes. But seeing the different varieties has definitely convinced me the tomato needs to be given another chance by me. Since I seem to have killed the ones I transplanted (according to my dad, I did it wrong....oops) I'll be getting some new ones Thursday.

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Re: Looking for the best tomato for sauces

MichaelC wrote:
TexasGardenGirl wrote:If I don't end up with new tomato plants for mother's day (what a wonderful gift that'd be!) then I may give Amish paste or San Marzano a try. There's 3 other varieties I'd like to give a try this year if I can get them ordered by next week. I'm really grateful the growing season is pretty decent here.
The thing with plum tomatoes is that they're very prone to blossom end rot. Not only did I have to throw away a lot of San Marzano fruit, but often the rot was hidden and I didn't discover it until I cut the end off. But I did get many good pounds from two plants.
^^^
This. I'm sorry I don't have a recommendation for you. I try to grow a few "sauce" tomatoes in my lineup each year, and every time, they are practically the only ones that get Blossom End Rot. And so far, they are not special enough to warrant the extra care regimen and nutrients to ensure THEY don't get BER when everybody else -- and we're talking dozens of others, if not over 100 -- is doing fine. :roll: I will admit that some of those varieties, when they DO produce good fruits, are amazingly intensely flavored -- but I can't deal with the disappointment of finding the bad ones and throwing away of these fruits -- the bottom 1/3 of the tomato is the best part so there is no sense in trying to keep the top 2/3 even if you could cut away the BER -- besides, usually the spoilage gets in the core/pith so nope, no saving.

...I'm not sure if did grow any sauce tomatoes -- dry plum/elongated shape tomatoes -- this year.

I gues when you are growing a limited number of plants, what you want are good producers. Another trait for "sauce" tomatoes is Determinate growth -- they fruit with large clusters at the end of each branch all at once then usually die. But you harvest a whole bunch at once... Which you can then process at once.

You can overcome that by freezing peak ripeness fruits, then when you have enough and the energy and time, process them for sauce. I end up cooking ones that are not as good to eat fresh -- too bland in some way -- dehydrating or into sauces. I freeze peak ripe fruits that we can't keep up eating fresh and those go in the sauces too. So most of my tomatoes are juicy and I just strain out the nearly clear water and broth when they first start boiling, then put them through the food mill to remove skin and largest seeds, then cook down. The (Incredibly flavorful) tomato broth/juice is saved for another use -- or I might just drink it as the chef's reward. :wink:

I suppose the ones that have been particularly suited for sauce, if I were to name them, are the big oxheart types -- they are meaty with less gel and with only small pockets/cavities (and less seeds which are typically elongated and thin rather than squat and fat). But most of them are indeterminate and sometimes produce later. And if they are exceptional as fresh, are coveted for sandwiches due to their meaty texture and superior, stand-up-to-other-flavors presence, and I hardly get any to freeze or sauce.

I do end up with a lot of productive small red (or other colored) pingpong ball to racket ball sized ones earlier in the season, and if they are not GREAT for fresh eating, they will get cooked down into sauce. And then late season when the big ones are done, cherries keep pumping out so I end up with quart and gallon freezer bags of cherries, yeah.
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Re: Looking for the best tomato for sauces

San Marzano is probably the best and usually the best tomato sauces are made from them. I do like Amish paste because it has a manageable vine. It has a lot of water though and the best paste tomatoes are meatier and have less water.

I use Amish paste as a as a slicer. It is small, but easier to grow than large tomatoes. It does not have the full flavor of a tomato like Brandywine but it has good texture and it isn't seedy.
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TexasGardenGirl
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Re: Looking for the best tomato for sauces

applestar wrote: ^^^
This. I'm sorry I don't have a recommendation for you. I try to grow a few "sauce" tomatoes in my lineup each year, and every time, they are practically the only ones that get Blossom End Rot. And so far, they are not special enough to warrant the extra care regimen and nutrients to ensure THEY don't get BER when everybody else -- and we're talking dozens of others, if not over 100 -- is doing fine. :roll: I will admit that some of those varieties, when they DO produce good fruits, are amazingly intensely flavored -- but I can't deal with the disappointment of finding the bad ones and throwing away of these fruits -- the bottom 1/3 of the tomato is the best part so there is no sense in trying to keep the top 2/3 even if you could cut away the BER -- besides, usually the spoilage gets in the core/pith so nope, no saving.

...I'm not sure if did grow any sauce tomatoes -- dry plum/elongated shape tomatoes -- this year.

I gues when you are growing a limited number of plants, what you want are good producers. Another trait for "sauce" tomatoes is Determinate growth -- they fruit with large clusters at the end of each branch all at once then usually die. But you harvest a whole bunch at once... Which you can then process at once.

You can overcome that by freezing peak ripeness fruits, then when you have enough and the energy and time, process them for sauce. I end up cooking ones that are not as good to eat fresh -- too bland in some way -- dehydrating or into sauces. I freeze peak ripe fruits that we can't keep up eating fresh and those go in the sauces too. So most of my tomatoes are juicy and I just strain out the nearly clear water and broth when they first start boiling, then put them through the food mill to remove skin and largest seeds, then cook down. The (Incredibly flavorful) tomato broth/juice is saved for another use -- or I might just drink it as the chef's reward. :wink:

I suppose the ones that have been particularly suited for sauce, if I were to name them, are the big oxheart types -- they are meaty with less gel and with only small pockets/cavities (and less seeds which are typically elongated and thin rather than squat and fat). But most of them are indeterminate and sometimes produce later. And if they are exceptional as fresh, are coveted for sandwiches due to their meaty texture and superior, stand-up-to-other-flavors presence, and I hardly get any to freeze or sauce.

I do end up with a lot of productive small red (or other colored) pingpong ball to racket ball sized ones earlier in the season, and if they are not GREAT for fresh eating, they will get cooked down into sauce. And then late season when the big ones are done, cherries keep pumping out so I end up with quart and gallon freezer bags of cherries, yeah.
So, what I get from this is plum varieties are probably just best left alone if I want something very productive that won't leave me tossing most of the fruits. And that most varieties that are meaty with few seeds work well in sauces. Is that about right? I do have the space for indeterminate tomatoes. I just wanted smaller stuff to start with so I could get my toes in the world of gardening, so to speak. But I'll choose something that's not as prone to BER since it seems everyone is cautioning me with the plum tomatoes. Thanks so much, everyone, for all the feedback. I'm so excited to give tomatoes a try this year. Whether in sauce or finding an eating tomato I love, I just look forward to picking produce and cooking!

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MichaelC
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Re: Looking for the best tomato for sauces

Fortunately in this area there are several spectacular farms producing SM and Amish Paste tomatoes through the fall. I decided not to grow them anymore after last year.

imafan, perhaps it is due to my and the local farmers differences in abilities, but the Amish Paste I get here are much better than the SM I grew. I haven't noticed too much liquid being an issue. Knowing the particular farm, I imagine they probably dry farm them to some extent.

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TexasGardenGirl
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Re: Looking for the best tomato for sauces

Well, I'm happy to say I went and got my new tomato plants today! We finally got the rent money we were owed that was keeping me from getting anything done in my garden. I made sure that every plant I got was already in nice, full sunshine and that they'd been that way for awhile.

So here's what I'll be planting this year!

-1 Sweet 100 cherry tomato (the only one to survive my dummy transplant mishap)
-1 Chocolate Sprinkle cherry tomato (sounded like a fun one to try)
-6 German Johnson heirloom tomato plants (this is the parent plant to Mortgage Lifter)
-1 Black Prince Heirloom.

I'm letting the plants get used to the sun in my backyard for the day and tonight when everything is cooled off and the sun is going down I'll put it all in the garden. The Black Prince is so absolutely beautiful. I feel like I got super lucky to find one so established as to already be getting ready to make blossoms! It's not blooming just yet but it won't be long! So, here's hoping I get a great yield!

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Re: Looking for the best tomato for sauces

I liked black Prince! And so did everyone I gave them to! It grew beautifully the first year, and then got fusarium wilt the second year.... :(

I think you'll really like German Johnson! I'm partial to pink flavors!

Chocolate sprinkle DOES sound fun!
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TexasGardenGirl
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Re: Looking for the best tomato for sauces

Lindsaylew82 wrote:I liked black Prince! And so did everyone I gave them to! It grew beautifully the first year, and then got fusarium wilt the second year.... :(

I think you'll really like German Johnson! I'm partial to pink flavors!

Chocolate sprinkle DOES sound fun!
I'm kind of excited about the chocolate sprinkle one and the black prince. I can't wait to start harvesting and canning and all that other fun stuff!

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TexasGardenGirl
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Re: Looking for the best tomato for sauces

Super exciting! Put the tomatoes in my garden last night at sunset. Gave them a thorough watering. When I put the black prince in, it had a few buds waiting to open. Well, I just went out to check on the plants to see how they fared through their first night in their new home and the black prince has two open blossoms!!!!! Ah! I'm super excited about this! I know the plant was already rather mature when I got it so someone else did the work but....the buds opened in MY garden. It makes me super happy!

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