I’ve tried numerous heirloom paste tomatoes over the years and failed for a variety of reasons.
Amish Paste had a tendency to blossom end rot while none of the other tomatoes did. San Marzano was tall and spindly and fell victim to blight in the cool bay area summers. This year I planted a San Marzano Redorta from TomatoFest in hopes that I could get successful paste tomato harvest.
Geography/History: Named for a mountain, Pizzo Redorta in Bergamo, Italy.
Catalog Description (TomatoFest): This is Gary Ibsen’s preferred Italian paste tomato. A much larger tomato (8 oz., 4-inch) with much better taste than its cousin, San Marzano. Good enough to eat off the vine with the bonus of ending up with more tomato paste per plant. Yum!
Bay Area Reality: Even though this tomato is listed as indeterminate, we found the growth habit to be almost determinate – it didn’t get spindly for me and was sturdy enough to put out huge numbers of tomatoes with no issue. As you can see by the picture, we got a fair amount from one plant (the picture shows just one round of picking and we got about three times that amount total from a single plant).
Taste: A really meaty, dry fleshed tomato with clean tomato flavor and lower acidity. We dehydrated our batch and it was really easy. Of the few that I peeled and processed, the skin is thin and slips off extremely easily after you quick boil and ice quench it. With little pulp, this is an outstanding paste tomato.
Final Verdict: I wish I had planted a lot more of these! We plan on doing multiple plants next year so we can make some great sauce and sun-dried tomatoes! I also plan on doing an Amy Goldman Italian American tomato for 2013 to compare.