Roma Tomatoes are a variety of a common tomato. They are known by other names such as Italian or plum tomatoes. They are mostly grown in the US, Mexico, Australia, and Great Britain. These tomatoes are mostly used for canning or producing tomato paste.
They are slender and firm in nature or at least more so than the ordinary tomatoes. They are mostly egg or pear shape. These tomatoes are open pollinated but they are not considered to be an heirloom vegetable.
Roma Tomato Trivia
- They are in the same plant family as potatoes, eggplants, and tobacco
- These tomatoes are attacked by far fewer diseases
- There are baby varieties as well.
Roma Tomato Buying Guide
The first thing to check is the firmness of the tomato. The ripe tomato should be slightly firm meaning that it will be firm but it will also change shape to the touch. The tomato should also be evenly colored and if there are green or yellow parts at the top, they are too young.
The skin should be smooth and shiny and if there are any blemishes on it, it’s a disease issue and you should avoid them.
Roma Tomato Production & Farming in Texas
Most US tomatoes are grown in California and Florida. The production of these tomatoes has shrunk quality a lot in Texas in the last couple of decades but there are still commercial and private growers out there. Tomatoes are demanded all year round and they are mostly sold to markets and restaurants. These are made for canning so, the buyers are often sauce producers as well.
The key is to start growing when the soil is dry enough meaning when it’s not sticking to tools when the land is being worked. The top of the land should be tilled at the depth of about 8 to 10 inches. This should be done weeks before the actual planting.
In most cases you don’t need to buy seeds but only a few plants of already grown tomatoes and those green plants should be up to 8 inches tall. It’s important to start planting only after there’s no chance for the frost to hit them what so ever. Make the transplant holes 3 to 4 inches deep and 2 to 4 feet apart in the row. For staked or caged plants, space the rows at least 3 feet apart. For unsupported plants, leave 4 to 5 feet between the rows.
The tomatoes should be picked when they are in full color.
It’s a standard practice for more than 30 pesticides to be sprayed on conventionally grown tomatoes. The thin skin does not stop chemicals from infiltrating the whole tomato, so peeling won’t help you here.
The tomatoes themselves are of an American origin and they have been transported to Europe by Italian and Spanish explorers where they have quickly become a part of the local cuisine. They are now grown where ever the climate allows.
Roma Tomatoes may sound like they are of Italian origin but they are actually a variety created by American government in the 1950s. They are made for canning and long term storage and that’s how the variety was selected.
These tomatoes are packed the same way as the ordinary variety but there’s usually less of them in the same package due to how soft they are and how they are shaped. That means that Roma tomatoes are mostly packed in open cardboard boxes and that they are not refrigerated on the spot, but bought as they are in the store.
They are mostly bought by the pound since they are used for canning.
Enjoying Roma Tomatoes
For the most part Roma tomatoes are used for canning and for sauces. That means that you usually blend them and use with pastas or pizzas. However, this isn’t the only way to use them. They can still serve you in the same way any other tomato would have.
They can be sliced and used on sandwiches and pastas. They can also be roasted slightly if they are cut with a sharp knife and brushed with some olive oil. Basil and fresh mozzarella are the most common additions to these tomatoes since they complement one another.
How tomatoes need to be stored depend on how ripe they are. The riper the tomatoes are; they will last less. If they are unripe you can keep them in a simple paper bag or in a cardboard box. Ripe tomatoes could be kept on a counter and possible covered with a cloth or at least put to be away from the sunlight. Overripe tomatoes should be used right away when they are bought.
Roma Tomatoes are best used for canning. Here’s an explanation on how to do it.
Bring a large pot or canning kettle full of water to a boil.
As the water comes to a boil (which will take a while), use a sharp knife to cut a small “x” in the bottom of each tomato.
Prepare a large bowl of ice water and set it near the pot.
Once the water is boiling, put in the tomatoes. Cook them for about a minute, then lift them out with a slotted spoon and transfer them directly into the ice water so they can cool quickly.
As soon as the tomatoes have cooled off enough so that you can handle them easily, use a sharp paring knife to remove the tomato skins. Having blanched them, the skins should slip right off without too much fuss.
Bring the water back to a boil, put the jars in the canning rack, and boil the empty jars for 10 minutes to sterilize them.
Put the lids in separately, also for 10 minutes, to soften the sealant.
Remove the jars from the water (empty any water back into the pot and bring back to a boil).
Put a tea kettle full of water on to boil.
While the water is boiling, put 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice in each jar. Stuff the jars evenly with the tomatoes. If you don’t care how “whole” they are in the end, really cram them in there, releasing the juices from some to create enough liquid to cover them. Cover the tomatoes with boiling water from the tea kettle, if needed, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace at the top of the jars.
After wiping the edges of the jars clean, place the lids and rims on the jars, set the jars in the canning rack, and lower them into the boiling water in the canning kettle or other large pot. Cook, with the water boiling the whole time, for 45 minutes.
Remove cans from their water bath and set them on a counter to dry and cool. Store jars in a cool, dark place until ready to use.
Tomato is one of the most widely consumed vegetables, connected with reduced risk of chronic diseases and speciﬁc types of cancer. Tomato contains important bioactive compounds, including carotenoids, polyphenols, and vitamin C. Carotenoids, such as lycopene, are responsible for the red color, and β-carotene, zeaxanthin, and lutein are provitamin A. Polyphenols, including ﬂavonols and ﬂavonoids, are potent antioxidants. All of these compounds have different beneﬁts for human health.
Carotenoids are a class of isoprenoids that generally consist of eight isoprene units joined together so that the linking of the sub units is reversed at the center of the molecule. They are divided into two groups on the basis of functional groups: carotenes, which contain only the parent hydrocarbon chain without any functional group, such as lycopene, α-carotene, and β-carotene; and xanthophylls, which contain oxygen as the functional group, and include lutein and zeaxanthin.
Flavonoids are a group of polyphenolic secondary metabolites with low molecular weight that have health promoting properties. Flavonoids have been involved in protection against cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, age-related diseases, and oxidative stress. Their structures consist of two benzene rings, which are connected by an oxygen-containing pyrene ring. According to the modiﬁcations of the central pyrene ring, they can be divided into different structural classes, like ﬂavonols, anthocyanidins, leucoanthocyanidins, catechins, ﬂavanones, ﬂavanols, and ﬂavones. Flavonoids are synthesized as part of the phenyl propanoid pathway on the epidermal cells of tomato fruit and transported into the cuticle of the fruit as it ripens.
When Are Roma Tomatoes in Season in Texas?
To find out when Roma Tomatoes are in season in Texas, please check the seasonal chart below. Why is this important? We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas now.