Homemade Tomato Paste
Welcome all to the overabundant summertime tomato harvest what-do-I-do-with-them solution post!
Lets get real for a moment, any of us that have a home garden with multiple tomato plants has had a time when we have more tomatoes ripen all at once than we know what to do with! From this day forward, you will now know that a batch of homemade tomato paste is your solution! Spoiler alert: I started with 8 1/2 pounds of tomatoes, and ended up with a much more manageable 20 ounces of paste.
Personally, I am not at all against buying canned tomato paste or tomato sauce, as it is easy to find quality options at the grocery store for reasonable prices (and some of my favorite sauces start with two cans of diced tomatoes). Todays post is designed to help prevent you from tossing your lovingly home grown tomatoes due to spoilage.
I used a combination of all of the San Marzano/Heinz/Grape tomatoes from my garden, the cherry tomatoes from the volunteer plants at my in-laws house, and a few extra roma tomatoes from the farmers market. The San Marzano (photo far right) are an Italian style plum tomato. They are great for paste because when compared to other tomatoes, they have a much higher pulp to liquid ratio so the process of making paste goes faster.
To start this super simple recipe, first wash and give all the tomatoes a rough chop. Then put them in a blender and puree until the tomatoes are past the visual appearance of being smooth. I used a Ninja blender and the food puree setting for about 1 minute 20 seconds.
Once blended, my 8 1/2 pounds of tomatoes turned into approximately 4 1/2 quarts.
Next, I like to go ahead and remove all of the skin and seeds. If you have a food mill, this is the perfect time to use it! I simply use a fine mesh strainer and silicon spatula. I use the spatula to move the puree around the strainer. The pulp and liquid passes thru the strainer and the seeds and skins stay behind (see last photo).
Using my method, this took me about 20 minutes to pass all of my puree thru the strainer. I put the leftover bits in my compost bin. Note: I poured directly into the fine mesh strainer, which then went to a regular strainer that was there for stability over the pot and allowed me to not have to hold the mesh strainer for the whole 20 minutes.
Now we are ready to get the tomatoes in the oven! Prepare yourself because this is a loooooong bake. Using a kitchen timer is an absolute must. The tomatoes go in the oven at 275 and need stirred every thirty minutes to prevent any burned edges.
The sheet trays really help out with the puree to paste baking process because of the large surface area for evaporation.
Essentially we are trying to evaporate and reduce the tomatoes as much as possible while trying to avoid changing the taste of the tomato. I see tomato paste as a pantry staple that can be used in any number of recipes so I do not want to do much to it! No Salt, no seasoning, no caramelized roasted bits…At the end of the day I want this tomato only recipe to still taste like a tomato and be versatile enough to fit equally well with in either an upcoming chili recipe or pasta sauce..
The first hour or so this the puree bakes, you probably will not notice much evaporation having taken place. I was about 2 1/2 or 3 hours into what ended up being a five hour bake before I started to notice the puree thickening. As the puree reduces into a paste, you should also notice the color become a deeper and deeper red. The photos above and the video below will both help you see the transformation take place 🙂
Also: this smells amazing while baking! I seriously considered putting a pot of pasta on to boil halfway thru the bake time even though I had already eaten dinner! It was sooo tempting!
When freezing, it is best to store something in the easiest to use format. Many recipes only call for one or two tablespoons of tomato paste, so I like to store my paste in smaller quantities!
Side Tangent: I really like these silicon ice cube trays with lids made by Joie. The only place I have ever found them is TJ Max and Marshalls. If you find them, buy them! I probably have ten of this tray and I use these trays for all of kinds of foods, such as my pesto, herb preservation, cookie dough, and pizza sauce portions!
Homemade Tomato Paste
Ingredients: Lots of tomatoes; lots of time.
- Clean and rough chop tomatoes
- Put into blender and puree
- Strain out tomato seeds and skin (use food mill if available, otherwise use fine mesh strainer and spatula)
- Pour puree onto sheet pans and bake at 275 while stirring every thirty minutes until desired paste consistence is achieved. A Kitchen timer is your friend-my bake time was 5 hours
- Use now, or freeze for later use 🙂