Best tomato plants for sauces, sandwiches, salads

Overwhelmed by the varieties of tomato seeds or starter plants available from your local garden center? You are not alone. I used to choose tomato plants and tomato seeds by the name. German Girl and Big Boy just sounded cute. Those varieties grow well in any garden, but choosing varieties of tomatoes to plant that meet your dining needs, like for tomato sauce or paste, or for a salad or a sandwich, can better utilize your garden space and fill your tomato requirements.

Salad Tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, so called for their demure size of 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches, can be eaten whole or sliced in two for those of us who are squeamish about a tomato bursting apart in our mouths. Options for cherry tomatoes may include Cherry Dots, Sun Cherry Tommy Toe, Gardener’s Delight, Mini Charm or Amish Delight, just to name of few. 

Larger varieties to quarter or cut even smaller can include my favorites of German Girl and Big Boy, or Early Girl, Jubilee or Betterboy. All these varieties are indeterminate.*
Slicing Tomatoes

Slices of tomatoes can enhance the flavor of a burger, become a main ingredient of a BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato), or be a standalone treat on bread or a saucer. Perhaps the most popular tomatoes for slicing are hefty varieties of beefsteak-type tomatoes like Big Beef, Beefmaster, Brandywine, Beefmaster, Burpee’s Supersteak or Ponderosa Pink.

Canning Tomatoes or Freezing Tomatoes

Meaty tomato varieties with few seeds are a good choice for tomato paste or sauce, or for freezing or canning. Referred to as paste tomatoes or plum tomatoes, their shape is more oblong or pear-like than the typical tomato variety. Determinate* varieties may include Belstar, Halley, LaRoma III or Martino’s Roma. Indeterminate * varieties may include Giant Paste, Hungarian Italian, Rocky or San Marzano.


Determinate: compact tomato plants; fruit ripens close to the same time, in 70 to 75 days.
Indeterminate: tomato plant continues to grow and produce fruit until frost, and has a longer maturation rate of 75 to 90 days.

Related content: