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What Are Plum Tomatoes? Types, Health Benefits, and Substitutes

Last Updated on April 21, 2024

What are plum tomatoes? Have you ever wondered why there’s something so special about plum tomatoes? Whether for adding bursts of flavor to salads or for making a delicious tomato sauce or tomato paste.

The most loved vegetable

Plum tomatoes are the star ingredient in many Italian dishes. Today, we’ll uncover everything there is to know about this tasty vegetable, from its health benefits to its many uses!

Plum Tomatoes

Plum tomatoes are cylindrical, oval-shaped and initially look like large grape tomatoes. This member of the Solanaceae family which includes potatoes and peppers is easy to grow and available fresh in grocery stores in most parts of the country.

Commercially, they are a favored choice for canning and processing and are used to make tomato sauce.

tomatoes on the vines

Generally, plum tomatoes have fewer seeds and thicker flesh than other types of tomatoes, providing less juice compared to other heirloom varieties.

This makes it easier for grilling, baking, or roasting as you won’t end up with mushy tomato sauce after cooking them down.

It also makes them a delightful treat when they are at their peak of ripeness for other dishes requiring particular firmness in the tomato component.

Plum Tomato Nutritional Benefits

Low in calories and fat-free, making them a healthy addition to any diet. In every half-cup serving (around 85 grams) of chopped raw plum tomatoes, you get 18 calories as well as:

Vitamin A: 3 percent of the recommended daily intake (RDI).

Vitamin C: 21 percent of the RDI

Potassium: 5 percent of the RDI

Fiber: 1 gram

Iron: 1 percent of the RDI

Do you know they are also a wonderful source of phytonutrients and antioxidants? Such as lycopene. Lycopene is particularly high in processed tomato products like tomato sauce and paste because it involves breaking down cell walls.

There is evidence that tomato lycopene may improve health by reducing heart disease, prostate cancer, and macular degeneration.

(Reference: Healthline)

The Difference Between Plum Tomatoes & Roma Tomatoes

Roma tomatoes are commonly known as Italian plum tomatoes. They are one of the most famous varieties of plum tomatoes. 

As a result, they are on different levels when it comes to categorical identification. But one thing is for sure – Romas are plums, but not all plums are Romas.

roma tomatoes

These two are both popular varieties of tomatoes, however, they differ in many ways. Firstly, plums have a pear shape with a pointed end, whereas Romas have an oval shape. In terms of taste, Plums tend to be sweeter than Romas and therefore are more suited for eating raw.

On the other hand, Romas have a lower sugar content which makes them better for cooking. Plums have thick walls and few seeds which makes them ideal for canning or preserving.

Finally, Plums tend to be larger than Romas – generally about 2-3 inches in diameter versus 1-2 inches for Roma. /o

How To Grow Plum Tomatoes

You can grow your own plum tomatoes with a variety of varieties that are fairly easy to grow. Here are some tips for you:

how to grow

Start with tomato seedlings: You can purchase the seeds from many online sources and local garden stores. Choose the variety that ideally suits your climate and growing season for better success rates.

Plants grow in full sun: Tomatoes love sunlight, so try to find a spot that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. This will help ensure healthy growth and development of the fruit over time.

Don’t crowd the plants: Give each plant plenty of space — at least three feet apart — so they can thrive without interfering with each other’s root systems or need for light exposure.

Fertilize regularly: To keep your plants healthy throughout the season, use organic fertilizer once or twice every month or two during their active growth periods (spring through early summer).

Harvest carefully: Pay attention as your tomatoes mature — when they reach their full size and change color (from greenish yellow to a deep red), they are ready! Be sure to pick them gently from their stems as this will help preserve their delicate insides until you get them home for preparation or storage purposes.

Plum Tomato Varieties

Choosing the right plum variety can make all the difference when you’re cooking or canning. While they all share certain similarities, there are some distinct differences as well.

plum tomato recipes

The most common types of plum tomatoes include San Marzano Tomatoes, Roma Tomatoes, Costoluto Fiorentino Tomatoes, Amish Paste and Big Mama Tomatoes.

Italian Plum Tomato (San Marzano tomatoes)

San Marzano tomatoes are the most popular type on the market and are considered the “true” Italian plum tomato.

They boast thick walls with a deep red color and a robust flavor that is both sweet and acidic at the same time.

San Marzanos also have fewer seeds than other varieties. This helps make them a superior choice for pizza sauces with less liquid. This in turn leads to a more flavorful food item when you’re finished cooking or preserving it.

Roma tomatoes

Roma VF is the most common Roma tomato sold in the US (VF describes a plum tomato with resistance to Verticillium and Fusarium wilts).

They are very similar to San Marzano tomatoes. However, they have a more oval shape than their counterpart and tend to have less sweetness when compared side by side.

Not surprisingly then, Romas aren’t seen quite as much at the dinner table as San Marzanos. Because of their lack of sweetness, raw eaters find them somewhat disappointing!

Costoluto Fiorentino

In addition to its flat, thick-walled texture and bold flavor profile, Cocaluto Fiorentino is specifically for sauces, and its flesh is deep red in color, making it ideal for dishes like pizzas and eggplant moussaka where visual appeal is also important!

Amish Paste tomato

The Amish Paste tomato dates back to the 1800s and hails from Lancaster County Pennsylvania. It has an oblong shape with ridges running along each side that make it easy to slip off its skin if you so desire!

Amish Paste’s have small amounts of juice but a more concentrated flavor than other varieties so if you need an intense-tasting sauce without adding additional flavors this just might be your go-to option!

Big Mama Tomatoes

Big Mama Tomatoes are a hybrid of plum tomatoes, known for their giant size and distinct sweet flavor. A Big Mama tomato can grow up to two pounds in weight.

Due to their meaty texture, they are a tasty ingredient in sauces and stews. Big Mama tomatoes tend to break down easily when cooking, making them perfect for sauces or soups.

Their prolific yields even in small spaces, plum tomatoes are very easy to commercially produce and distribute.

How To Pick When Buying

When selecting plum tomatoes it is wise to choose ones that are bright red, firm to the touch, evenly shaped, and have no blemishes or spots on the skin. Similarly once bought, you should store them in a cool environment away from direct sunlight or heat sources.

Room temperature works best as they can lose flavor when exposed for long periods of time to extremely cold temperatures.

Recipes using Plum Tomatoes

Plum tomatoes have a sweeter flavor and denser texture than other types of tomato, making them ideal for recipes that feature the taste of the tomato itself. Here are some delicious recipe ideas featuring plum tomatoes.

Tomato Soup – This classic comfort food warms up any winter day and is especially delicious when made with plum tomatoes. You can make this delicious Chinese-style Tomato Tofu Soup with plum tomatoes.

Tomato salad – Whether for summer barbecues or al fresco dining, it couldn’t be easier to whip up this delicious starter. You can use plum tomatoes to make cucumber tomato salad (Israeli Salad) or Tomato Avocado Toast.

fire roasted tomatoes

Fire Roasted Tomatoes – For an easy accompaniment that packs a punch, try this fire-roasted tomato for your salsa which makes enough salsa to feed around 12 casual diners around the table:

Preheat your oven to 400°F / 205°C before cutting around 8 ounces (around 225g) of plum tomatoes into small chunks spread out over a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brushed lightly with olive oil, crushed garlic, and Italian mixed herbs before adding a pinch of sea salt flakes over the top.

Bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes or until softened and lightly charred at edges. You can use them straight away for pasta dishes or make them into canned tomatoes.

If you can’t find plum tomatoes in your local shops, you can substitute them with other types of fresh tomatoes. Please feel free to check this article Substitutes for Plum Tomatoes.

Storage and Preservation

Storing and preserving plum tomatoes can extend the shelf life and flavor of your seasonal produce. There are a few simple steps you can take to optimally store and extend their shelf life.

tomatoes on the vines

It is important to remember never to store tomatoes in the refrigerator. Because they are sensitive to low temperatures and ethylene gas, which is in refrigerators, they become soggy and flavorless over time.

When freezing (freezing could be an option for preserving your Plum Tomatoes) make sure that you pre-frozen the tomatoes by slicing them before freezing.

So that when it comes time after defrosting they are ready for use in recipes without further preparation needed beyond a quick washing before use. 

Once frozen, store in airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags at 0 degrees Fahrenheit/-18 Celsius. (Here is the Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion tool).

When properly preserved without exposure to heat or humidity while sealed during storage, frozen plum tomatoes may last up to 8 months. Canned plum tomatoes may be kept for up to 4 years past the expiration date. You can enjoy your seasonal fruits all season long by following these simple steps!

making tomato salads


Plum tomatoes are popular with cooks because of their high flesh content moist, juicy texture, and intense flavor. Whether you are growing or buying plum tomatoes, there are some common questions to consider.

Q: What types of plum tomatoes can I buy or grow?

There are many varieties of plum tomatoes, including Roma, Opalka, and San Marzano.

Other varieties include Amish paste and Principe Borghese. Each variety has its own characteristics related to sweetness, size, and shape as well as cooking suitability.

Q: Where do I find a reliable source of quality plum tomatoes?

High-quality plum tomatoes can be found in supermarkets or farmer’s markets during the summer months when they’re in season.

You can also buy them dried or canned year-round at most grocery stores. If you plan on growing your own collection of plum tomatoes, try checking with local nurseries for plants suited to your climate and soil type.

Q: What is the proper way to store fresh plum tomatoes?

Freshly harvested plum tomatoes should be stored at room temperature away from direct sunlight until ready to use.

Once cut open, use within two days for peak flavor and texture.

Otherwise, place leftovers in an airtight container before refrigerating for up to five days before discarding any remaining tomato product.

Q: Are all plums equally suitable for cooking?

No – not all plums are ideal for cooking. This is because many varieties have been specifically bred for particular qualities such as short growing season requirements or sweet flavor profiles.

These qualities make them ideal for fresh eating fruits versus vegetables used in sauces or cooked dishes such as casseroles and stews.

It’s generally recommended that you select a variety that has qualities most suitable for the dish being prepared so that the richest possible flavor is achieved every time!



The most loved vegetable

What are Plum Tomatoes?

Plum tomatoes are the star ingredient in many Italian dishes. Today, we’ll uncover everything there is to know about this tasty vegetable, from its health benefits to its many uses!
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Author: SHU-CHUN


  • The most common types of plum tomatoes include San Marzano Tomatoes, Roma Tomatoes, Costoluto Fiorentino Tomatoes, Amish Paste and Big Mama Tomatoes.
    Choosing the right plum variety can make all the difference when you’re cooking or canning. While they all share certain similarities, there are some distinct differences as well.

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