How Do I Choose the Best Plum Tomatoes?

Misty Amber Brighton

Plum tomatoes are a small variety of this fruit and are normally oblong rather than round. When choosing ripe tomatoes, it can be helpful to check the color of the fruit's skin, as those that are partially green may not be ready to eat. You should also make sure the flesh is somewhat firm, and not mushy. This is because fruit that is too hard may not be ripe yet, but tomatoes that are too soft could be overripe. It can be helpful to look for signs of disease or bruising, especially if you plan on canning plum tomatoes.

Plum tomatoes are sometimes referred to as Roma tomatoes.
Plum tomatoes are sometimes referred to as Roma tomatoes.

You can normally identify plum tomatoes by their size and shape, as they are typically much smaller than other varieties. A typical plum tomato might be around 3 to 4 inches (7.24 to 10.08 cm) long and could be oval or pear-shaped. Fruit that is smaller than this could have been picked too soon, while tomatoes that are larger that normal might have been crossbred with another variety.

Crostini with plum tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil.
Crostini with plum tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil.

Most varieties of plum tomatoes are red, though some are yellow. Before you choose plum tomatoes, it can be helpful to look the fruit over carefully to check the color of it. If the tomato is fully ripe, it will not have any green spots on it, and it should be an even shade of red or yellow. Generally speaking, produce with darker skin is riper than those with lighter skin.

In addition to checking the skin, you may want to see how firm the flesh is. When you feel plum tomatoes, they should be slightly soft, but should not cave in easily when pressed with the fingers. If the flesh seems very rigid when you press on it, the fruit might not quite be ready to eat. In this instance, you may be able to place the fruit in a sunny window for a few days to allow it to continue ripening.

Many cooks choose plum tomatoes because they are an excellent variety for making sauces. If this is something you would like to do, it can be very important to choose fruit without any blemishes. Some signs you may want to look for include black or brown ulcers on one side of the fruit, or small green specks that cover the entire tomato. Crops that are split open could also be affected with disease, so these should be avoided as well whenever canning tomatoes

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Discussion Comments


@raynbow- I love to use plum tomatoes for making fried green tomatoes. Because they have firm texture and mild flavor, they taste great battered, seasoned, and fried until crispy and golden-brown. Since plum tomatoes are small to medium in size, they are also easy to slice and perfect for frying.


@raynbow- If you have never tried plum tomatoes, you are missing out. These small, oval-shaped tomatoes are mild and slightly sweet. They are not overly tangy and do not have a lot acid to their flavor, so they are great for people who don't like tomatoes strong or sour flavors.

I cook with plum tomatoes a lot because I really enjoy the way they taste. They are great in salads, but they also make sauces that are flavorful yet mild. Add some Italian spices to the mix and you have the perfect marinara sauce.

I also think that plum tomatoes go well with Mexican food because they are a nice contrast to other bold flavors in this type of cuisine. I think that it is nice to have a mild tasting tomato along with the bold cheese, hot peppers, and tangy spices that are typically used in Mexican cooking.


I like to use tomatoes in many different types of recipes and salads, and am always looking for new varieties. I have never tried plum tomatoes, so I'm wondering what to expect of their flavor. I would also like to know what dishes they go nicely with.

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