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Plum Tomatoes Vs Roma – What’s The Difference?

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Plum and Roma tomatoes are some of the most widely available tomato varieties. And while many people enjoy using these tomatoes for sauces and stews, not everyone knows what makes plum and Roma tomatoes different. 

What are the differences between Roma and plum tomatoes? The key thing you should about these tomatoes is that Roma tomatoes are a type of plum tomatoes. Roma tomatoes along with other types of plum tomatoes are best used for making tomato paste and sauce.

In this article, we explain all the key differences between plum tomatoes and Roma tomatoes.

Continue reading to learn about the specifics of Roma tomatoes, what sets them apart from other types of plum tomatoes, and what are similarities all plum tomatoes share. 

What Are Plum Tomatoes?

Plum tomatoes are a popular tomato variety grown in Europa and America. These tomatoes have been specifically grown for processing purposes.

Unlike regular tomatoes, plum tomatoes have low water content and a chewy flesh that makes thick and flavorful pastes and sauces

As you can guess by the name, these tomatoes have a plum-like shape though they can also be egg-shaped or pear-shaped. 

There are a few different types of plum tomatoes:

Grape Tomatoes 

Grape tomatoes are very small plum tomatoes. These tomatoes seem to be a cross between plum and cherry tomatoes though they appear more oval than real cherries.

Grape tomatoes originate from South East Asia. These tomatoes are sweet and can be used instead of cherry tomatoes for salads, stir-fries, soups, and more! 

San Marzano 

San Marzano tomatoes are one of the more popular types of plum tomatoes. These tomatoes stand out from the pack thanks to their thin oand blong shape and extended tip

These plum tomatoes get their name from the city they were first grown in – San Marzano sul Sarno in Southern Italy. 

Roma

Roma tomatoes are perhaps the most popular variety of plum tomatoes. These tomatoes are medium-size plum tomatoes with a balanced flavor that makes them excellent for paste

Amish Paste

Amish Paste are acorn-shaped plum tomatoes with a deep red color. They are not as popular as the three plum tomato varieties mentioned above. 

Amish Paste tomatoes come from Pennsylvania. The latter is the center of the Amish state, hence the name of the tomatoes. 

As the word paste in the name of the tomatoes suggests, these plum tomatoes are also great for making tomato paste.

What Are Roma Tomatoes?

As you already know, in this article we are talking about Roma tomatoes. Roma tomatoes, also known as Roma VF, are a popular variety of plum tomatoes. 

These tomatoes are widely grown in different parts of the US, Mexico, and Australia.

But as Roma tomatoes are not as delicate as other tomato varieties, they are shipped to various parts of the world and you can find them in nearly any country. 

If not fresh Romas, you will surely come across canned Roma tomatoes or sauces and pastes made from Roma tomatoes. 

The letters VF that come after the name of Roma tomatoes indicate that Roma tomatoes are resistant to verticillium wilt and fusarium wilt. These are two common soilborne plant diseases that affect tomatoes. 

This plum tomato variety is easier to grow than many other tomato varieties including other plum tomatoes.  This surely contributes to the popularity of Roma tomatoes. 

Roma tomatoes are open-pollinated. This means that pollination occurs by insects, bees, wind, and other natural means. 

So, if Roma tomatoes are simply a type of plum tomatoes, why is there so much confusion over them? 

The reason why many people can’t figure out whether plum and Roma tomatoes are the same or not is that Roma tomatoes are one of the most popular types of tomatoes.

So, people have started to mistakenly consider them a cultivar rather than a type of tomato. 

What Are The Differences Between Roma And Plum Tomatoes?

Roma tomatoes are one of the many varieties of plum tomatoes. And still, Roma tomatoes have characteristic features that set them apart from other types of plum tomatoes. 

We have compared Roma and plum tomatoes to find out if there are any differences between them. 

Classification 

As plum tomatoes are a cultivar and Roma tomatoes are a type of plum tomatoes, the categorical identification of plum and Roma tomatoes differ. 

Plum tomatoes are a part of the Solaneles family, an order of flowering plants that includes more than 100 genera and over 4000 species

Being a type of plum tomato, Roma tomatoes have the scientific name Solanum Lycopersicum.

Plants under the category Solaneles classify into two groups – nightshades and morning glories. Roma tomatoes belong to the nightshades family also known as Solanaceae. 

Growth Habit

Based on their growth habit, tomatoes are classified into determinate and indeterminate varieties. 

Roma tomatoes are determinate. It takes around 80 days for this variety to produce fully ripe tomatoes and you get many tomatoes at once

In contrast, San Marzano tomatoes, another common variety of plum tomatoes, are mostly indeterminate. These plum tomatoes have a longer growth period. 

Unlike the determinate tomato plants that are small, compact, and bush-like, the indeterminate ones are continually growing vining plants. 

So, if you want to grow plum tomatoes, Roma tomatoes are the variety you should start growing.

Availability

Plum tomatoes are very popular and widely available. While there are many plum tomato varieties, Roma tomatoes are one of the most popular ones. 

Most canned tomatoes you will find online and in stores are Roma tomatoes. This is also the variety that is widely available in fresh markets and supermarkets. 

Roma tomatoes are quite shelf-stable and not as susceptible to bruising as other tomato varieties. This is another factor that explains the wide availability of Roma tomatoes

Lastly, Roma tomatoes, namely the Roma VF variety, are resistant to many plant diseases. So, more farms choose to grow Roma tomatoes. This leads to the wide availability of Roma tomatoes. 

Size And Color 

Considering that multiple tomato varieties may fall under the category of plum tomatoes, it would be safe to say that these tomatoes are small to medium in size.

Datterino plum tomatoes, for example, are quite small. They are nearly the size of cherry tomatoes. 

Medium-size plum tomatoes may be 2-4 inches long. Roma tomatoes are typically 3 inches long

As for the color, plum tomatoes are typically red though some varieties, such as Banana Legs and Sunrise Sauce come in yellow and orange shades too. 

Roma tomatoes are commonly available in shades of red though golden-yellow Roma tomatoes are also available. 

Shape

Plum tomatoes may be oval or cylindrical in shape. Less commonly, they may also be pear-shaped. Roma tomatoes have an elongated egg shape. You may also come across pear-shaped Roma tomatoes

Taste And Texture

Plum tomatoes have a robust tomato flavor. They are sweet with mild acidity. Texture-wise, plum tomatoes are meaty, i.e. they have thick walls and a lower water content compared to other tomato varieties. 

There are also fewer seeds in plum tomatoes which is another reason to use them for sauces.

Plum tomatoes, unlike other tomato varieties, have only two locules, i.e. seed compartments. This leaves more space for the meaty pulp

Being a type of plum tomato, you can expect Roma tomatoes to have a low moisture content and dense and meaty flesh. 

Uses In Cooking

As noted above, plum tomatoes are also known ad processing tomatoes. These tomatoes have fewer seeds compared to other tomato varieties and more solid content.

If you strain your tomato sauces to get rid of the seeds and achieve a smooth texture, you can skip it when using plum tomatoes

The sweet pure flavor of plum tomatoes is another characteristic that makes these tomatoes perfect for sauces, juices, and tomato purees.

You won’t need to put in a lot of effort to achieve a balanced and rich flavor which is often a problem with tomato sauces

In addition to sauces, Roma and plum tomatoes can be used for a variety of cooked dishes, including soups, stews, cooked tomato salsas, etc. 

Plum tomatoes are also a good choice when tomatoes are off-season. Unlike other tomato varieties, you can get almost fully ripe plum tomatoes when tomatoes are not quite in-season. 

Can You Eat Roma And Plum Tomatoes Raw?

The fact that plum tomatoes, including Roma tomatoes, are better cooked doesn’t mean that you can’t use these tomatoes raw. 

You can use these tomatoes for sandwiches and salads if you prefer meaty tomatoes or if you don’t have any other tomatoes at home at the moment. 

Shelf Life

Aside from being exceptionally good for processing, plum tomatoes also have a longer shelf life than most other tomato varieties. 

The flesh of plum tomatoes, including Roma tomatoes, is tougher which significantly extends their shelf life

When it comes to where the tomatoes should be stored, people have different opinions. Some people like to store their tomatoes at room temperature and eat them as soon as possible while others prefer to have them in the fridge. 

If you have bought plum tomatoes that are not fully ripe yet, leave them at room temperature until they fully ripen, and then transfer them to the fridge. Store the tomatoes with their stem side up to prevent bruising and moisture loss.

Properly stored plum tomatoes may last over two weeks in the fridge. 

Health Benefits 

Plum and Roma tomatoes, similar to all tomatoes, have a range of health benefits. Including these tomatoes in your diet can have the following positive effects on your health. 

  • Improved heart health. Being a good source of beta-carotene and lycopene, plum tomatoes help reduce cholesterol levels and improve overall heart health. 
  • Lower risk of cancer. Lycopene in tomatoes is a powerful cancer-fighting compound. Using tomatoes can help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. 
  • Healthier skin. Tomatoes are a rich source of vitamin C. Vitamin C stimulates collagen production and helps preserve the elasticity of the skin. 

What Pairs Well Plum And Roma Tomatoes?

Plum tomatoes, including Roma tomatoes, have a concentrated flavor, low moisture content, and mild acidity.

While these characteristics make plum tomatoes perfect for sauces and juices, you can pair these tomatoes with a range of other ingredients to make a variety of flavorful dishes

Plum tomatoes go well with basil, oregano, feta cheese, bacon, garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and other ingredients. 

Can You Substitute Roma Tomatoes With Plum Tomatoes? 

Now you know that Roma tomatoes are a type of plum tomatoes. This means that you can use other types of plum tomatoes instead of Roma tomatoes. 

Other good substitutes for plum tomatoes, including Roma tomatoes, are Campari tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and beefsteak tomatoes

How To Identify Plum Tomatoes

So, plum tomatoes are tasty, meaty, and perfect for canning and making sauces. 

But how do you identify plum tomatoes if you have never bought them knowingly, and there happens to be no label indicating the tomato variety?

You can identify plum tomatoes by their shape and size. These tomatoes are smaller than regular tomatoes and not round.

If the tomatoes have a slightly elongated oval or pear shape and they aren’t longer than 4 inches, they are almost certainly plum tomatoes

If the shape of the tomatoes is oblong with pointed ends, it is possible that those are San Marzano plum tomatoes. 

Whenever you can’t identify plum tomatoes just by looking at them, you may ask the seller to cut one for you. If you see only two compartments with very few seeds and thick meaty flesh, then you are looking at plum tomatoes. 

How Do You Choose The Best Plum Tomatoes?

Plum tomatoes, including Roma tomatoes, have a delicious balanced flavor and rich meaty texture so long as you are buying good ones. 

Whenever you are buying Roma tomatoes or any other plum tomato variety, here are the things you should look for. 

Firstly, inspect the color. Only fully ripe plum tomatoes will be good for a sauce. If a part of the tomatoes is still green, don’t buy them.

Secondly, feel the tomatoes. Plum tomatoes shouldn’t feel completely firm. They should feel slightly soft.

A slightly soft texture of the plum tomatoes indicates that they are ripe and juicy. With this said, make sure you are not buying mushy tomatoes. The tomatoes shouldn’t cave in when you press on them. 

Lastly, look for bruising and discolored spots. If you notice too many spots on the tomatoes, don’t buy them. 

What Are The Best Ways To Cook Plum Tomatoes?

As noted above, plum tomatoes, including Roma tomatoes, are exceptionally good for sauces. When making a sauce using plum tomatoes, make sure you slow cook them. 

The slow cooking process will yield a rich and balanced flavor and a thick consistency.

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