The Best Tomatoes for Canning and Freezing to Grow in Your Garden

Grow these tasty canning tomatoes to make the best sauces, salsas, and juice for preserving.

sliced tomatoes canned in jar
Photo: Jason Donnelly

Tomatoes are at the top of the list when it comes to homegrown garden produce to preserve. Choosing the best tomatoes for canning and freezing will help you make the job easier, and the results tastier. This guide will help you select the most easy-to-grow, disease-free types of tomatoes that preserve well, ensuring delicious results you can enjoy for months after tomato harvest season is complete.

Choosing the Best Tomatoes for Canning

There are hundreds of tomato varieties in the marketplace. Some are excellent sandwich toppers while others are more suited to sauce. Let your finished product guide your tomato variety selection.

Great tomatoes for making sauces are different than the best tomatoes for canning whole or making salsa. For example, tomato paste and sauce call for tomatoes with low moisture content and seed count, a fleshy, meaty fruit, skins that are easy to remove, and high yields. The best tomatoes for canning whole are sized to fit in jars and maintain a firm structure and excellent taste after processing. Match your finished product with the tomato for the job and you’ll create a winning recipe.

canned tomatoes on kitchen counter

BHG /Crystal Hughes

Best Canning Tomatoes for Sauce and Paste

Cooks have been choosing Roma-type tomatoes for sauces and paste for centuries for good reasons. These oval, palm-size fruit have small seed cavities that results in ample meaty flesh that will become sauce. Small seed cavities also mean fewer seeds to strain out in the preservation process. Cut a Roma tomato open and you'll notice that it has very little moisture compared to a juicy beefsteak. This low-moisture content is a benefit when it comes to making tomato sauce or paste—less cook time is needed to create a thick, flavor-rich sauce.

Because they are a determinate type of tomato, most Roma tomatoes ripen over the course of 2 to 3 weeks. This short harvest window means the plants will produce several pounds of fruit all at once so you can efficiently make large batches of sauce and paste to keep for winter. After Roma tomatoes ripen, they store longer than slicing and salad tomatoes. This is beneficial when large quantities are needed to make sauce and paste.

Tomato sauce and paste is commonly canned or frozen. It doesn’t matter which preservation method you use; grow the following tomato varieties to make batches of sauce and paste to preserve.

'Amish Paste': A meaty heirloom that reliably yields 8- to 12-ounce fruits, 'Amish Paste' has good disease resistance and high yields. It is a low moisture fruit which means most of the tomato will become sauce. 'Amish Paste' grows best in cool and moderate climates; it doesn’t grow well in southern regions.

'Big Mama': This modern hybrid produces massive plum-shaped fruit that are about 5 inches long and 3 inches wide. An easy-to-peel Roma tomato, 'Big Mama' has notable low moisture content and big yields.

'Polish Linguisa': A bright red heirloom tomato hailing from Eastern Europe, 'Polish LInguisa' was brought to the United States in the 1800s. Its 10- to 12-ounce meaty fruits make it a great sauce or paste.

'San Marzano': The favorite paste and sauce tomato of many home cooks, 'San Marzano' is a traditional Italian heirloom known for its sweet flavor. It has excellent disease resistance, long, blocky fruit, and small seed cavities.

'Super Italian': Resembling a banana pepper, this heirloom variety is about 6 inches long and has deep orange-red flesh. It has very little juice and few seeds.

Viva Italia: A hybrid variety of old-fashioned ‘Roma,’ 'Viva Italia' ripens a few days faster than the old variety and has better disease resistance, along with larger tomatoes. Its tomatoes are usually 4 to 8 ounces each.

fresh tomatoes in a colander

BHG/Niki Cutchall

Best Canning Tomatoes for Salsa, Juice, and Whole Fruit

Beefsteak and slicing tomatoes are commonly used for salsas, juice, and canning whole. Their high moisture content is essential for juice and a benefit for salsas and whole canned tomatoes. When choosing tomato varieties for salsa, juicing, or whole canning, flavor is the most important characteristic. A tomato with poor flavor when eaten fresh will not improve when preserved. Delicious tomatoes make great salsas, juices, and canned fruit. Here are 3 excellent varieties to try.

'Ace 55': A perfect size for canning whole, 'Ace 55' produces fruit the size of a tennis ball. The thick-walled tomatoes stay firm when cooked. It’s a good tomato for growing in pots when staked.

'Black Krim': A deep brown-red fruit with a bold, smoky flavor, 'Black Krim' is a high-yielding Russian heirloom best suited for cool to moderate climates. Use the fruit to make unique salsa and canned tomatoes.

'Rutgers': This vigorous variety produces flavorful medium-size fruit that hold up well to canning. The deep red fruits are uniform in size and are great for slicing and fresh eating too. Be sure to stake these tall tomato plants.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How many tomato plants should you grow for canning?

    Four tomato plants will yield about 9 pints of tomato sauce or salsa. Each tomato plant can produce about 10 to 12 pounds of fruit; 35 pounds of fresh tomatoes are needed to make 9 pints—a full canner—of sauce. 

  • Can you use green tomatoes for canning?

    Green tomatoes can be canned using the same recipes you use to can fully ripe tomatoes. Even if a recipe doesn’t call for unripe, green tomatoes, you can add them for a unique flavor boost. 

  • Which tomatoes are not good for canning?

    Any type of tomato can be canned but some are better for canning than others. Many extra large beefsteak and slicing tomatoes are not the best choices for canning. Their tender flesh and high moisture content cause them to disintegrate in the canning process.

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