Roma tomatoes are a paste tomato, though these days they are used more frequently as an all purpose tomato. Paste tomatoes are generally firmer and less juicy than what would be considered a slicing tomato, such as a Beefsteak variety. Roma tomatoes, as with most paste tomatoes, are also shaped differently than slicing tomatoes, being oblong rather than more or less round. Roma is probably a catch-all name for small, oblong saucing tomatoes, as most sauce tomatoes have unique names such as San Marzano Gigante and Striped Roman, to name just two. Another aspect of tomatoes that varies from variety to variety is the amount of natural fruit acid they contain. Higher acid tomatoes are better for canning or preserving, while lower acid tomatoes are easier on most pallets and digestive systems. There are hundreds of varieties of paste tomatoes and slicing tomatoes, from modern hybrids to heirloom varieties that have been grown for centuries. Tomatoes originate from the southern American continent, and you can still find varieties in places, like Peru, that have been grown there for as long as anyone can remember.
Roma tomatoes, as with most all tomatoes, found in today’s grocery stores tend to be picked unripe, which doesn’t mean that the tomato won’t develop juice and flavor to some extent as they ripen on your counter. Tomatoes can actually be picked completely hard and green, but will in time ripen, though their flavor and juice will be much diminished over a vine ripened tomato. Selecting tomatoes by color will enhance the possibility of getting better flavor, so Roma tomatoes that are more red than pink will tend to have better flavor.
All tomatoes require more or less the same conditions, nutrients and water to grow well. When selecting tomatoes for a home kitchen garden the choices can seem overwhelming. When planning to grow tomatoes, consider the end use of the tomatoes during this decision-making process to determine if fresh tomatoes are more useful than cooking or preserving tomatoes. Roma tomatoes are best used for making sauces, as is the case with most paste tomatoes. Not to say that Roma tomatoes cannot be eaten fresh, but varieties like Dr. Wyche’s Yellow or Cherokee Purple have far superior flavor and texture for fresh eating. Non-paste varieties also can be added to the mix when making sauce, adding flavor complexity and enhancing the eye appeal by producing a more richly colored sauce. The world of tomatoes is large; just use that one word for a query on the internet and see what you get.