Conserve excess tomatoes with an easy, homemade tomato paste that can be made on the stove top, in your oven, or in a slow cooker.
Well, I’m posting this a lot later than I would have liked. You see, this year I was able to get up a new fence around the area where I usually plant things, and once again planted a lovely organic vegetable garden. I wanted to write a couple of posts about different ways to conserve and use excess vegetables from your garden at a time when everyone would be looking for ways to use theirs, but life got in the way. I figured now is as good a time as any. Better late than never, right?
Making tomato paste is one of my favorite ways to use and conserve excess tomatoes. Tomato paste is very concentrated, so you can easily reduce a lot of tomatoes into a small space. You can then freeze it, can it, or make it into fermented ketchup. I’ll be sharing how to do that next time!
I used to peel all of the tomatoes before making tomato sauce and tomato paste, but I found it took a lot longer than the way I do it now. Now, I blend the tomatoes in the blender, and strain out the seeds and skin. You can save some time cooking down the sauce by removing the seed sections before blending the tomato pieces. Some people begin cooking the sauce with the peels and seeds still in the sauce, but I find that it can make the sauce bitter if you don’t remove them before cooking.
Making tomato paste is simple. Basically, you are just going to make a basic tomato sauce, and slowly reduce it to make it more concentrated by evaporating out a lot of the water. There are several ways to do it. You can slowly reduce it in a pan on the stove over low heat, in a slow cooker with the top off, or even spreading out the tomato sauce onto baking pans or dehydrating trays, and heating over low heat until you reach the consistency that you like. I like making a sauce in a pan on the stovetop, and further reducing it, and caramelizing it slightly in the process, on the stove.
Which tomatoes make the best tomato paste?
While you can use any of the tomatoes in your garden for making tomato sauce or tomato paste, certain tomato types are better than others. Tomatoes like Roma tomatoes, and other so-called paste tomatoes, have more flesh and less seeds, so they take less time to cook down to a thick sauce, and make a nice, hearty, thick sauce. Most of the best varieties for sauces and pastes are tall and elongated, rather than short and wide.
How to store homemade tomato paste
Most of the time I freeze my homemade tomato paste in perfectly cube-shaped ice cube trays like the ones I used for freezing my homemade baby food and smoothie cubes, and my homemade pumpkin puree. The advantage to using perfectly cube-shaped ice cube trays is that the frozen tomato paste cubes fit together perfectly in ziplock bags without wasting any space. You can then label your bags and sort through them easily to find what you need from the freezer.
Making your own tomato paste takes a bit of time, but it’s totally worth it. You can then use it in soups, sauces, or add it to ground beef for homemade tacos, etc.
Easy homemade tomato paste recipe
This post is also available in Español.