Here, we’ll discuss – of course – the best tomatoes for sauce and we’ll also make mention of the best can tomatoes for sauce.
The Best Tomatoes for Sauce? It Depends…
Really, the best tomatoes for sauce is, or are, dependent on the type of sauce.
In Italy, a tomato puree is commonly used. And this tomato puree is either homemade or shop-bought available in bottles or in cans. To this sauce nothing at all is added. It’s 100% tomato.
This Italian sauce works ever so well if you’re intent on a smooth, simple sauce such as you would eat with lasagne or ravioli.
Roma tomato, which is undoubtedly among the best tomato for sauces, is ideal for blending a thicker sauce such as pasta sauces. Nevertheless, you can cook and puree roma tomatoes to make a smoother sauce.
If you are using canned tomatoes (shop-bought or otherwise), for many people, ‘San Marzano’ is the go-to tomato of choice. It’s advisable that, if you are shop buying, you avoid canned tomatoes that have added basil. Why? Because the basil takes on something of a metallic flavor.
Keep in mind, there’s a chance that when you buy canned tomatoes the lining consists of a substance referred to as BPA.
BPA stands for bisphenol A. BPA consists of epoxy resins, among other things. Epoxy resin may be a great substance for industrial flooring, but it’s not so great inside our tummies. Thus, many experts agree that bisphenol A has some serious health implications.
Anyway, to get back to cans that have BPA in the lining…
It is said that foodstuffs that are high in acidity – yes, like tomatoes – aid BPA to leach out.
You can buy glass jarred tomatoes. These are a very costly option, though.
Back to the tomato, ‘San Marzano’. For many, this variety is the gold standard in terms of making sauces.
If you wish to peel ‘San Marzano’ you may find that freezing the fresh tomatoes first (pop them into zip bags) works well.
A day, maybe two days, prior to sauce production, take the tomatoes from the freezer and thaw. This cycle of freeze and thaw loosens the skins. It’s then easy to squeeze out the pulp into a container.
Best Tomato for Sauce Making
If you’re utilizing fresh tomatoes for your sauces, the best tomato depends on whether you are happy to spend time peeling (or otherwise).
‘Early Girl’ tomatoes are fantastic fresh tomatoes for sauces. Problem: ‘Early Girl’ tomatoes are very small. That makes it a real pain to peel them.
If you are unable to find roma or ‘San Marzano’ tomatoes (they are commonly available as seeds and also as transplants (smaller-sized tomato plants ready for transplanting)) at garden centers and farmers’ markets), keep in mind that both of these tomatoes are said to be ‘paste’ varieties.
Any ‘paste’ tomato is nicely suited as a tomato sauce base.
Here are a few alternative examples of paste tomatoes that you may want to try. The first two on the list we’ve mentioned:
Best Tomatoes for Sauces
‘San Marzano‘ – deep red. Originally grown (and still are) in Italy’s Campania region. Regarded by many as the best paste tomato. Sweet flavor. Pulp is dense. Low acidic content. Low seed count. All of this makes them perfect for sauce production. What’s more, the skins are easily peeled.
Roma – roma tomatoes are inclusive of many different varieties as opposed to a single tomato variety. They are referred to as ‘plum’ tomatoes because of the shape. The plants fruit prolifically, which is one among many reasons why romas are so popular overall.
Among top roma tomato varieties is ‘SuperSauce’.
‘SuperSauce‘ – the roma tomato, ‘SuperSauce’, develops large-sized fruit – around 2lbs in weight. In fact, it’s said to be the world’s largest paste tomato. The bush reaches around five feet in height. This roma variety is an indeterminate grower (vigorous) and produces copious fruit throughout the summer months. Actually, ‘SuperSauce’ produces a smooth sauce (unlike many other roma varieties). Ideal for eating fresh as well.
‘Margherita‘ – again, like ‘SuperSauce’ the ‘Margherita’ tomato has a perfectly apt name. ‘Margherita’ tomatoes are great for many different dishes. It’s a determinate plant and the fruit is ready to harvest around 70 days after transplanting. It’s a heavy crop producer, and fruits are approximately five to six ounces each.
‘MiRoma‘ – another that fits under the roma umbrella. ‘MiRoma’, a plum tomato, is rich in flavor. The plant is determinate so you may get away without any staking. Fruits reach harvesting time after about 70 days from transplanting.
‘Rubia‘ – a paste tomato. Reach harvest stage after around 70-80 days. Medium-sized fruit, elongated, nicely rich in flavor, and skins are dark red and smooth.
‘Orange Roma‘ – as the name suggests, this is another roma. As the name also suggests, the color is orange. The fruit consists of very few seeds. Fruit nicely sweet. Flesh is meaty and thick. The vine is indeterminate and bears a prolific amount of fruit.
‘Yaqui‘ – this tomato produces large fruits on vigorous, high-yielding plants (indeterminate). The plants grow to a mere 10-24 inches in height making our little friend ‘Yaqui’ ideal for small gardens and containers.
‘Campari’ – Campari tomatoes are certainly among the favorite of all tomatoes. Plus, they’re really good for making sauce (otherwise, I would not have added this section here). Campari tomatoes are very high in terms of sugar content. In this case, that’s a great thing because it means they do very well for making sauces.
Read more about Campari tomatoes.
Best Tomatoes for Tomato Sauce
There is an array of tomatoes that you can use to make a pretty good tomato sauce. However, if you wish to make a really delicious tomato sauce (which, of course, you do), then a paste tomato is the right choice.
Paste tomato varieties are generally firmer. They are meatier in texture. They tend not to have many seeds. They don’t consist of much water. All of this together means there’s less prep involved and less cooking time.
Classic Paste Tomatoes for Tomato Sauce
In terms of tradition, there are a couple of tomatoes that have been recommended for many decades. These two are easy to find. Either you can grow them at home or chances are decent you’ll get them fresh at the local market.
Roma – We’ve discussed roma already so you’ll have good knowledge about this superb tomato. The traditional roma tomato is approximately three inches in length. These days, through constant improvement (to make it verticillium and fusarium wilt resistant), there are larger-fruiting roma varieties to be had.
There is a downside to roma for canning, though: they could be sweeter. Roma is not as sweet as a few of the heirlooms, including Amish Paste. The orange roma tomato is more on the sweet side than red varieties.
‘San Marzano‘ – known as the classic paste tomato, ‘San Marzano’ is quite dry, it’s sweet, and it’s dense in texture.
Best Oval Tomatoes for Tomato Sauce
‘Amish Paste‘ – while it has some similar characteristics to roma, ‘Amish Paste’ has a fresher flavor and it is sweeter. This tomato can grow up to between 8 and 12 ounces in weight.
‘Polish Linguisa‘ – this is an heirloom and as the name would suggest, it’s of Polish heritage. In fact, ‘Polish Linguista’ was introduced to America when Polish immigrants brought it to New York back in the 1800s. It’s particularly sweet, weighs around 10 ounces, and is nicely meaty.
‘Opalka‘ – another Polish-introduced heirloom, ‘Opalka’ has a richer flavor than the majority of past tomatoes. The fruits grow to between four and six inches in length.
Best Large Tomatoes for Tomato Sauce
‘Big Mama‘ – ‘Big Mama’ is plum-shaped, it’s meaty, and it’s very large. It grows to as much as five inches in length and three inches across. Plus, because of its huge size, it’s easier in terms of processing for tomato sauces than, say, something like roma.
‘Jersey Giant‘ – not easy to find this heirloom tomato. If you are able to grow it or find it at the local farmers’ market then give it a try as it is excellent for making tomato sauces. The fruits reach between four and six inches in length.
‘Jersey Devil‘ – this tomato has a similar shape to a banana pepper. It grows to between five and six inches in length and is particularly juicy.