The 15 Best Tomato Varieties to Grow for Canning

Whether you’re growing cherry tomatoes for fresh snacking or massive heirloom slicers for your summer BLTs, the sheer variety of tomatoes available can be both exciting and overwhelming. But if your heart is set on preserving your hard-earned harvest through canning, then certain tomato types shine above the rest.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive deep into the world of canning tomatoes, and explore the specific traits that make some varieties better suited for this preservation method. From plump and meaty plum tomatoes to the vibrant hues of orange and yellow canning options, you’ll discover the ideal tomatoes to grow for stocking your pantry with homemade sauces, salsas, and more. So, keep reading to learn about it!

1. Amish Paste

Amish Paste tomatoes are an excellent canning tomato, but they make a premier multi-purpose and all-purpose tomato, too! First developed in the 19th century, Amish Paste hails from the Amish communities of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Packed full of flavor, these tomatoes are slightly irregularly shaped – some shaped like teardrops, while others tend more towards an oxheart look. The perfect size for canning, these flavorful tomatoes are ideal for slicing up and eating fresh too!

The meaty flesh works well in salsas and sauces and has a slight sweetness to it that will elevate many other dishes. Plants begin fruiting about 85 days after transplanting and should be staked for proper growth. If you’re interested in saving seeds, be sure to plant these tomatoes at least 10′ away from other tomato varieties to keep their heirloom genes going strong.

Pros

  • Excellent for canning, but also versatile for fresh use
  • A slightly irregular shape adds visual interest
  • Meaty texture and sweet flavor
  • Reliable producer, even in cooler climates

Cons

  • Need to be staked for proper growth
  • Must be isolated from other tomato varieties to preserve heirloom genetics

2. Roma VF

Roma VF is a good choice if verticillium and fusarium wilt are a problem in your area. While there are different Roma varieties available, the “VF” in this cultivar’s name refers to the fact that this seed type is resistant to verticillium wilt and fusarium wilt. That’s great news if your tomato patch suffered from wilt last year, as you won’t need to worry about it again with these hardy plants!

An open-pollinated tomato variety, Roma VF is a determinate grower, meaning it will produce most of its tomatoes in a short period of time. That makes this an excellent choice come canning season, as you’ll be able to get all of your canning done at once. Even so, this plant type does best when staked or caged and it can grow in a smaller 2′ diameter pot if you’re working with a limited space.

Pros

  • Resistant to common tomato diseases like verticillium and fusarium wilt
  • Determinate growth habit makes for easy, one-time canning
  • Uniform size and shape
  • Can be grown in small spaces or containers

Cons

  • Determinate growth means a shorter harvesting window
  • Still requires staking or caging for the best results

3. San Marzano

Some canners say San Marzano is the only tomato type worth growing. This centuries-old classic originally comes from Italy and, while its flavor may not be quite the same when grown outside of the volcanic soils around Mt. Vesuvius, it is a mouth-watering tomato variety, nonetheless.

With extra sweet and low acid flavor, these paste tomatoes are ideal for sauce making, but they are tasty in salsas or when sliced fresh too. San Marzanos also have minimal seeds, meaty flesh, and a delightful teardrop shape that’s sized just right for canning. These tomatoes freeze well and develop a deep, rich flavor when roasted too.

As indeterminate growers, San Marzanos should be staked to keep them from growing too wild and to support their heavy fruit load. They will also produce tomatoes throughout the growing season, so they are well-suited for small-batch canning. Many varieties in the United States are resistant to most wilt strains.

Pros

  • Exceptional sweet and low-acid flavor
  • Meaty flesh, minimal seeds, and ideal canning shape
  • Freeze well and develop rich, complex flavors when roasted
  • Many disease-resistant varieties are available

Cons

  • Flavor may not be quite as intense when grown outside of native Italian soils
  • Require staking as indeterminate growers

4. Big Mama

If you love canning with plum tomatoes but hate the hassle of removing the skins from pint-sized fruit, Big Mama tomatoes are the solution. While they may look like standard plum tomatoes at first, the fruit is significantly bigger, weighing in at around 10 ounces per tomato. Their large size and thick skins make them a breeze to work with during canning time!

With a low moisture content and small seed cavity, these tomatoes make tasty salsas and soups too. Plants begin fruiting about 80 days after transplanting and are easy to work with. Just keep in mind that these hefty plants will need to be secured in the garden with heavy-duty stakes to keep them from taking over.

Pros

  • Large, 10-ounce fruits reduce peeling and prep time
  • Thick skins make them easy to work with for canning
  • Low moisture content and small seed cavities
  • Versatile for canning, salsas, soups, etc.

Cons

  • Require sturdy staking to support their hefty size
  • Plants can become quite large and sprawling

5. Fresh Salsa

As their implies, Fresh Salsa tomatoes are hard to beat when it comes to homemade salsa making. These hybrid plum tomatoes produce oversized fruit that’s not quite as large as Big Mama’s, but still big. Dense flesh and small seed cavities simplify the canning process, and the meat maintains its solid texture and sweetness, even when diced up.

For a determinate tomato, expect fruit production to begin about 65 days after transplanting. These tomato plants also stay quite small, maxing out at about 4′ tall, so they are well suited to small growing spaces and container planting.

Pros

  • Oversized plum-type tomatoes perfect for salsa
  • Compact, 4-foot plants suit small gardens
  • Dense, low-moisture flesh holds up well when canned
  • Determinate growth for easy, one-time harvesting

Cons

  • Shorter harvesting window than indeterminate varieties
  • Flavor may not be as complex as heirloom types

6. Costoluto Genovese

Like San Marzanos, Costoluto Genovese is a classic heirloom tomato with dense meat and a rich flavor. A favorite of U.S. president Thomas Jefferson, this centuries-old tomato type is sweet enough to slice up on sandwiches and burgers, but the high acid content and distinct flavor makes it well-suited for canning too.

While plum tomatoes tend to be the tomato type most home preservers prefer for canning, Costoluto Genovese’s are larger heirloom tomatoes with deeply lobed flesh. An indeterminate type, these tomatoes begin fruiting about 80 days after transplanting and continue producing a sizeable harvest throughout the growing season. Seeds are also easy to save for next year’s garden or for sharing with friends!

Pros

  • Classic Italian heirloom with rich, well-balanced flavor
  • High acidity makes it ideal for canning
  • Large, lobed shape adds visual appeal
  • Easy to save seeds for next year’s garden

Cons

  • Larger sizes may require more prep work than plum tomatoes
  • Indeterminate growth requires staking for support

7. Bonny Best

First developed in 1908, Bonny Best is a perfect dual-purpose tomato. Throughout the growing season, it produces reliably, with round and firm fruit weighing in at between 6 to 8 ounces. These tomatoes are ideal for slicing and eating fresh, but the uniformly sized fruit is wonderful in canned goods too.

A good tomato variety for cooler climates, expect your Bonny Best to start fruiting about 80 to 85 days after transplanting. Mature plants grow to about 4 to 6′ in height and should be staked for best results.

Pros

  • Reliable, consistent producer in the garden
  • Firm, 6-8 ounce fruits perfect for fresh eating or canning
  • Does well in cooler climates
  • Dual-purpose tomato – great for both fresh and preserved uses

Cons

  • Mature plants can reach up to 6 feet tall, needing sturdy staking
  • May not have the most complex, bold flavor as compared to heirlooms

8. Golden Fresh Salsa

Like the Fresh Salsa tomato variety, Golden Fresh Salsa produces a meaty and low-moisture fruit about 70 days after planting. Fruit maintains its texture well, even after dicing — but the true reason to grow this plant is its color. While most canning tomatoes are red, Golden Fresh Salsa has a warm golden hue to add more color to your pantry.

If you grow this tomato type, try out golden pasta sauces or liven up fresh-made salsas. A determinate tomato variety, Golden Fresh Salsa produces tomatoes all at once. So, make sure your canning equipment is ready when fruit begins to appear!

Pros

  • The vibrant golden color adds visual appeal to canned goods
  • Meaty, low-moisture flesh ideal for salsa and sauces
  • Determinate growth habit simplifies the canning process
  • Maintains texture well when diced or crushed

Cons

  • The flavor may be a bit milder compared to red tomato varieties
  • Determinate growth means a shorter harvesting window

9. Biltmore

There are so many reasons to grow Biltmores. These hardy plants are resistant to many tomato diseases and they produce a large and reliable harvest that matures in a short period of time. These plants also mature faster than many other canning tomato types, with fruit appearing about 68 days after transplanting.

A smaller tomato type, Biltmores max out at about 4′ in height, but their heavy fruit load means they should be staked regardless. Perfect patio plants, Biltmore tomatoes have smooth and rounded shapes and a deep red color.

Pros

  • Excellent disease resistance
  • Produces a large, reliable crop in a short timeframe
  • Compact 4-foot plants suit small gardens
  • Early maturity, with fruit in just 68 days

Cons

  • Smaller fruit size compared to some other canning varieties
  • Requires staking to support the heavy fruit load

10. Bradley

A less traditional canning tomato, but a delightful one, Bradley produces round, pink fruit that is just right for fresh eating or sauce making. First developed by the University of Arkansas, Bradley tomatoes begin fruiting about 80 days after transplant. They are also resistant to a number of common diseases, including fusarium wilt, gray leaf spot and Alternaria stem canker.

For a semi-determinate tomato, Bradley’s harvesting window is shorter than some indeterminate tomato types, but that can mean greater efficiency with your home canning. For best results, use sturdy stakes with this plant and it should continue fruiting right up until frost.

Pros

  • Unique pink color and fresh, bright flavor
  • Resistant to common tomato diseases
  • Semi-determinate habit provides a balance of concentrated and extended harvest
  • Works well for both canning and fresh use

Cons

  • Less traditional canning tomato compared to plum or paste types
  • Shorter harvesting window than fully indeterminate varieties

11. Grandma Mary’s

An heirloom paste tomato with a meaty texture and delicious flavor, Grandma Mary’s has been selected for their early production and sizeable fruit. Oblong tomatoes have minimal seeds and nice, thick flesh that makes them easy to work with. An indeterminate grower, these plants should be staked and will produced throughout the growing season.

Once transplanted, Grandma Mary’s should begin fruiting in about 68 days. These hardy plants also produce reliably, even during cool summers. So, they’re a solid choice if you live in a colder region.

Pros

  • Heirloom paste tomato with an excellent meaty texture
  • Large, oblong fruits have minimal seeds
  • Indeterminate habit provides a continuous harvest
  • Hardy and productive, even in cooler climates

Cons

  • Like other indeterminate types, requires staking for support
  • Slightly longer maturity at 68 days compared to determinate options

12. Hog Heart

First developed in Italy, hog heart tomatoes were brought to the United States at the beginning of the 20th century and have been impressing growers ever since. Oblong fruit sometimes develops into a heart shape and can grow quite large. While some hog hearts have weighed in at over 3 pounds, most stay much smaller and are often shaped like banana peppers.

Meaty flesh and a small seed cavity make these tomatoes simple to can with. Hog hearts are also delicious fresh, and they freeze well too. A hardy tomato type, except in extremely cold spots, these are indeterminate growers, so they should have ample support in the garden.

Pros

  • Large, unique heart-shaped and banana pepper-like fruits
  • Meaty flesh and small seed cavities make for easy canning
  • Delicious both fresh and preserved
  • Hardy and productive, except in extremely cold areas

Cons

  • Larger fruits may require more prep time than smaller plum tomatoes
  • Indeterminate vines need sturdy staking

13. Orange Icicle

For something a bit different, orange icicles are a fun tomato to keep. These slender and long-paste tomatoes have orange flesh to add color to your canning jars. They also work well in fresh-made salsas and you can even turn them into a homemade orange ketchup!

The flesh is rich and sweet with a slight citrus flavor that adds an intriguing note to any recipe. Just keep in mind that these tomatoes often have lower acidity levels than other tomato types. For food safety, orange icicles should be pressure canned or canned with lemon juice or citric acid to make certain your acidity levels are adequate.

Pros

  • Adds vibrant color and citrusy notes to canned goods
  • A slender, elongated paste shape is ideal for canning
  • Works well in salsas, sauces, and even homemade ketchup

Cons

  • Lower acidity requires pressure canning or added lemon juice/citric acid
  • The flavor may not appeal to everyone’s tastes

14. Red Rosso Sicilian

Like San Marzanos, Costoluto Genovese is a classic heirloom tomato with dense meat and a rich flavor. A favorite of U.S. president Thomas Jefferson, this centuries-old tomato type is sweet enough to slice up on sandwiches and burgers, but the high acid content and distinct flavor makes it well-suited for canning too.

While plum tomatoes tend to be the tomato type most home preservers prefer for canning, Costoluto Genovese’s are larger heirloom tomatoes with deeply lobed flesh. An indeterminate type, these tomatoes begin fruiting about 80 days after transplanting and continue producing a sizeable harvest throughout the growing season. Seeds are also easy to save for next year’s garden or for sharing with friends!

Pros

  • Classic Italian heirloom with rich, concentrated tomato flavor
  • Deeply ribbed, meaty flesh is perfect for canning
  • Determinate growth habit simplifies the canning process

Cons

  • Delicate skin is prone to bruising, requiring gentle handling
  • Longer maturity at around 90 days after transplanting

15. Super Italian Paste

Rounding out our list is the aptly named Super Italian Paste, a heirloom tomato variety prized for its ability to produce an abundance of meaty, low-moisture fruits perfect for canning. With their oblong shape and rich red-orange hue, these tomatoes are the ideal base for homemade sauces, salsas, and more. Just be sure to provide ample staking support for these indeterminate plants as they reach for the sky.

Pros

  • Heirloom variety produces abundant crops of meaty, low-moisture fruits
  • Oblong shape and deep red-orange color make it an attractive canned product
  • Versatile for sauces, salsas, and more

Cons

  • Requires sturdy staking as an indeterminate variety
  • need to be isolated from other tomato types to preserve heirloom genetics

Canning Tomatoes: Whole, Diced, or Crushed?

Once you’ve gathered your top-notch tomatoes, you’ll need to decide how you want to can them. The most versatile option is whole or halved tomatoes, which can then be chopped, blended, or left intact for use in a wide variety of recipes. Canned diced or crushed tomatoes are also incredibly useful, cutting down on prep time for soups, stews, and sauces.

Canning Methods

Water Bath Canning: The Classic Approach

Water bath canning is a beloved and relatively straightforward method for preserving high-acid foods, such as tomatoes. This technique involves submerging jars of prepared tomatoes in a hot water bath, which kills any harmful bacteria and allows the jars to seal, ensuring long-term shelf stability. Follow these steps to water bath can your way to tomato nirvana:

  1. Sterilize your canning jars and lids according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Fill the jars with your preferred prepared tomatoes, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.
  3. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice or citric acid per pint of tomatoes to ensure proper acidity.
  4. Wipe the jar rims clean and attach the lids.
  5. Process the filled jars in a hot water bath for the recommended time, typically 35-45 minutes.
  6. Remove the jars from the water bath and allow them to cool completely before storing.

Pressure Canning: The Ultimate Safeguard

For those who seek to can low-acid foods, such as vegetables, meats, and some tomato varieties, pressure canning is the safest and most reliable method. This process uses high-pressure steam to kill any potentially harmful microorganisms, ensuring the long-term safety of your canned goods. The steps are similar to water bath canning, but with the addition of a pressure canner:

  1. Prepare your tomatoes as desired and fill the sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.
  2. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice or citric acid per pint of tomatoes.
  3. Wipe the jar rims clean and attach the lids.
  4. Process the filled jars in a pressure canner at the recommended pressure and time, typically 10-15 pounds of pressure for 25-30 minutes.
  5. Allow the pressure canner to depressurize completely before removing the jars.
  6. Store the cooled jars in a cool, dark place.

Let’s explore some of the most popular and versatile ways to can your homegrown tomatoes:

Canned Whole or Halved Tomatoes: The most basic and versatile option, canned whole or halved tomatoes can be used in a wide array of dishes, from sauces and soups to stews and casseroles. Simply peel, core, and pack the tomatoes into jars, adding a touch of lemon juice or citric acid to boost the acidity.

Canned Diced or Crushed Tomatoes: For a more prepped and ready-to-use option, diced or crushed tomatoes save time in the kitchen. Diced tomatoes are hand-cut, while crushed tomatoes are heated and mashed, making them ideal for salsas, chili, and other recipes.

Canned Stewed Tomatoes: Take your canning game up a notch with stewed tomatoes, which are pre-cooked with herbs and spices for a richer, more complex flavor. These make a fantastic base for homemade pasta sauces, chili, and more.

Canned Tomato Sauce or Puree: If you’re aiming to create a versatile pantry staple, canning your own tomato sauce or puree is a fantastic option. The concentrated, velvety texture of these canned goods lends itself beautifully to countless recipes, from pizza to pasta to soups.

Canned Tomato Salsa: Bring the taste of summer to your winter meals by canning homemade salsa. With a mix of diced tomatoes, peppers, onions, and your favorite seasonings, canned salsa is a delicious way to enjoy your garden’s bounty year-round.

Canned Tomato Juice: For the ultimate in versatility, can up some fresh tomato juice to use in cocktails, soups, or simply as a healthy, flavorful beverage.

Canned Tomato Paste: Transform your garden’s tomatoes into a concentrated, thick tomato paste that can be used to add depth and richness to sauces, stews, and more.

Canned Tomato Soup: Nothing beats a steaming bowl of homemade tomato soup, and canning your own gives you control over the ingredients and flavor profile.

Tomato Jams and Jellies: For a unique and unexpected way to preserve your tomatoes, consider canning them into sweet and savory jams and jellies, perfect for pairing with cheeses and charcuterie.

Tomato Ketchup: Bid farewell to store-bought ketchup and make your own using canned tomatoes for a healthier, lower-sugar condiment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What’s the difference between pasting and slicing tomatoes when it comes to canning?

A: Paste tomatoes, such as the varieties mentioned in this guide, are generally thicker-walled, lower in moisture, and have fewer seeds compared to slicing tomatoes. This makes them better suited for canning, as they hold their shape and texture better during the preservation process. Slicing tomatoes, while delicious for fresh eating, can often become mushy or watery when canned.

Q: Can I use a mix of tomato varieties when canning?

A: Absolutely! While the tomato varieties mentioned in this guide are excellent choices for canning, you can certainly mix and match different varieties to create your own unique blends. Just keep in mind that the different varieties may have slightly different processing times, so be sure to adjust your canning methods accordingly. Experiment and have fun with the endless possibilities of tomato canning!

Q: How long will my canned tomatoes last?

A: Properly canned tomatoes can last for 12-18 months when stored in a cool, dark place. However, it’s important to inspect the jars before use and discard any that show signs of spoilage, such as bulging lids, leaks, or off odors. With the right canning techniques and the best tomato varieties, your preserved pantry can be a veritable treasure trove of summer’s bounty.

Q: Can I can tomatoes without adding acid?

A: No, it’s essential to add an acid, such as lemon juice or citric acid, when canning tomatoes. Tomatoes are a borderline high-acid food, and without the added acid, they may not be safe for long-term storage. The acid helps ensure the proper pH level and prevents the growth of harmful bacteria, ensuring the safety and longevity of your canned tomato creations.


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Mohsin
By Mohsin

Hi, I’m Mohsin, creator of Tomato about website. I have over a two decade of gardening experience and I love helping others growing healthy tomatoes!


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