Plum tomatoes are roughly egg shaped and sized tomatoes which were specifically bred for sauces and canning. Their breeding has made them highly flavorful, with a high solid content. Plum tomatoes are also easier to handle than some other tomato varieties, and they are often available year round at grocery stores, in varying states of quality. You can also grow plum tomatoes at home; many seed supply companies sell plum tomato seeds.
The plum tomato is very fleshy, with fewer seed compartments than many other tomato cultivars. Plum tomatoes tend to be less juicy than some cultivars, and they are ideally suited to drying, because of their concentrated flavor and lower moisture content. In sauces, the concentrated flavor can enhance the flavor and mouthfeel of the sauce, and because the tomatoes hold their shape well, they tend to do well when canned for future use.
You can also find plum tomatoes ground into tomato paste, a concentrated tomato product which can be added to stocks, soups, and sauces to fortify them and to inject a strong tomato flavor. These tomatoes also perform well when used fresh in simple sauces, sometimes simply cut into wedges and sauteed with garlic, onion, and a few other ingredients, and they can be used raw in salads as well.
One well known variety of the plum tomato is the Roma tomato, an Italian variety which is grown throughout the world. Many canned tomatoes are Romas, and Romas are frequently available at the market, although they may be less than stunning in the winter months, when they are out of season. Roma tomatoes are less prone to bruising from the shipping process, so while they may not always be of stellar quality, they tend to be firm and usable.
A miniature form of the plum tomato is known as the grape tomato. Grape tomatoes are known for having an intense flavor, just like their larger relatives, and they go well with salads, but they can also be preserved in oil with fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into salsas, and used as a garnish.
If you want to grow plum tomatoes at home, you will need a warm, sunny spot well out of the wind, or a greenhouse, depending on where you live; tomatoes can be grown in USDA zones three and higher, although people on the cooler ends of the scale may want to use a greenhouse. You can either grow tomatoes from seed or purchase seedlings at your local garden store. Plant the tomatoes in loamy soil and keep them well watered but not soaked; try to avoid getting water on the leaves, as this can encourage rot. The tomatoes should start to emerge in the summer, and you can harvest them as needed and use them fresh, can them, or turn them into sauces.