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Have you ever made your own tomato paste?

I would love to try this. Any great recipes and/or methods welcome.

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  1. Narsai David advised against trying this, because commercial tomato paste is cooked in an oxygen-free environment which cannot be duplicated at home.

    1. Sometimes my tomato jam is like a tomato paste

      1. You could certainly oven-roast sliced tomatoes until they are soft and jammy in texture and then put them through a food mill but I think you'd need to use or freeze them within a few days and the flavor would not be the same as canned paste.

        1. I can and freeze ~50lbs. of tomatoes from my garden every summer and do what I think of as tomato concentrate. I grow primarily paste-type tomatoes, so that's the start. I just give them a quick blanch to get the skins off, quarter and seed, and then cook down, pureeing at some point in the process. It's not gooey thick like commercial tomato paste, but it's super flavorful and just as useful. I freeze it in ~2oz. packages which take up very little room in the freezer and are perfect for when I need that little bit for depth of flavor. It can always be caramelized and cooked down more once it's in the pan, but IME trying to get a really thick commercial type paste in quantity at home doesn't work--it gets too bitter and black--see GH1618's comment.
          I think the suggestion of drying the tomatoes first is great.

          One of my favorite tricks for when I want a fresher, brighter tomato flavor but not so much liquid is draining. I'll blanch,seed and rough chop the fresh tomatoes and set them to drain. Then I reduce the drained liquid to almost nothing and then add the cut pieces back in to cook for a bit.

          2 Replies
          1. re: splatgirl

            There's two ways that I've been thinking about doing it. And, after reading some of these comments, I'm figuring that I'm not going to be making a paste but, rather, a very concentrated, very simple, very thick tomato sauce. One way would be to put some chopped up tomatoes in a pot or slow cooker and let em cook and cook. At some point, I'll run them through my food mill (one of my most favorite gadgets) and then will either be done with it or will cook it down some more. Another is to cut them in half and roast them in the oven (probably a low temp for a long time) and then run them through the food mill. If they've roasted enough in the oven, they may not need any more reducing. If not, then I can reduce stove top. Now I'm thinking I would have to try it both ways and see how I like it ;)

            1. re: sherrib

              I was trying to make this tomato sauce not long ago:


              and before adding the wine, I got a very tomato-paste like consistency with really rich flavor. I liked it so much I made another couple of batches without the wine to freeze as paste. So, I would definitely recommend the roasting & food-mill method.
              BTW, the roasting times in this recipe were way too long for me - instead of 2 hrs @325 + 30 min @400 I did 65-70 min @325 + 10-15 min @400, and had to keep an close watch at the higher temp or I would have had nothing but blackened tomatoes.

          2. I did it years ago, when I had access to cheap, plentiful tomatoes. It can scorch easily on the stove, I think I may have reduced it in the oven. A slow coooker would work, too, high, lid ajar (temps are high enough, gotta let the steam out, like an apple butter).
            One could also partially dry the tomatoes in a dehydrator and try that, too.
            But, I would only do so (make the paste) if I had lots and lots of very inexpensive tomatoes.

            1. I've been thinking about trying dehydrating tomatoes part way and then running them through the food mill and see how that would work.

              1. I wouldn't do it in the middle of winter, but look for a Sept 27 2006 article about Paul Bertolli in the LA Times called 'Capture the Sun'.

                9 Replies
                1. re: AAQjr

                  Bertolli also has a recipe for tomato paste in his book, Cooking by Hand. He calls it tomato conserve.

                  1. re: Madrid

                    Yes, It is the same. Great book.

                  2. re: AAQjr

                    I found and read the article, thank you. Most recipes I've come across do it this way - make the sauce first and then reduce in the oven. I'm trying to avoid this method because it seems a little tedious and messy. I'm wondering if I wouldn't get the same results by roasting the tomatoes first and then running them through the food mill. I was hoping someone on these boards has tried different methods and has a preference or some advice.

                    1. re: sherrib

                      It tastes very different doing it that way. Not bad, just not a substitute IMO, but try it yourself. It's not bad having oven dried tomatoes around.

                      1. re: AAQjr

                        How do you all evaluate a good tomato paste? I am used to grabbing a Hunt's or whatever is available and using that. I finally had a breakthrough as I made a tapenade the other day with just sun-dried tomatoes reconstituted and olives, and I ended up using that as a flavoring agent in some lentils. I am thinking, like the posts above, that just buying dried tomatoes or making them, and then reconstituting and blending would make a pretty great paste. I can experiment pretty easily, but I'm not sure what criteria I would use or recipe (other than a basic red sauce?). Any ideas?

                        This is what I made initially, but I'm guessing it's not a good test as 1. it was mixed with olives and 2. there's other stuff in there. But it worked! http://aisleofmate.tumblr.com/post/33...

                        1. re: recapitulation

                          Have you tried tomato paste in a tube? The one I use is by Alpino, imported from Italy. The quality is much better than any of the canned brands.

                          1. re: jammy

                            I use GIA in a tube, and I love it as most recipes only need a tablespoon or two. Now I don't have to waste a whole can when I really only need a small amount.

                            BTW, am I strange for actually eating paste out of the can (after it's added to the recipe of course).

                            1. re: cosmogrrl

                              Ha! I wish I could find it in a tube. I´m in Buenos Aires currently and I haven´t seen it around except in glass or tin. I´ll keep an eye out. Thanks for the tip as it sounds better than those cans!

                          2. re: recapitulation

                            My criteria are 1) does it have any flavorings (some do - I think Hunts adds basil/oregano or other Italian type herbs) and 2) does it taste good out of the can? I admit I'm weird but I love tomato paste on a spoon! I like both Contadina and Goya, with Goya being my favorite (mostly because it's usually cheaper). Both contain only one ingredient: Tomatoes.

                            I've used the Amore brand from the tube and I do not recommend it. I was originally drawn to the convenience of the tube, but now when I open a can of tomato paste I use what I need and plop the rest in a ziploc. Smash flat and freeze, then just break off a chunk anytime you need it. Even more convenient than the tube, IMO.

                    2. Paula Wolfert suggests pureeing a 28 oz can of high quality tomatoes with a jar of sun dried tomatoes in oil, keeping the oil, and then cooking it for a while. You can freeze some and keep some in the refrigerator. I think it works!

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Madrid

                        Is this the recipe? http://www.cookstr.com/recipes/homema... It looks like it has tomato paste in it, but also keeps better. Intriguing. Thanks!

                        Well, wait. I guess I still am wondering how to evaluate a good tomato paste? @jammy or anyone else? I can eat it, I guess, but I don´t know if what tastes good on the tongue makes a flavorful additive to food. Hmm.

                        1. re: recapitulation

                          The paste should have a good, full tomato flavour. My personal preference is for one that only contains tomatoes and a bit of salt, is easy to store and use (here's where I would use the tube from the fridge as opposed to biodanomia's equally good freezer idea) and has a consistency that is easy to mix into food. I find canned pastes to be more solid than those in a tube and not as suited to my cooking style as a paste with a somewhat looser consistency. Really, it all comes down to what you like and what works best in your kitchen.

                          1. re: jammy

                            Good points. I have some experimenting ahead of me.

                          2. re: recapitulation

                            yes, that is Wolfert's paste recipe from clay pot cooking, .... I recognize the recipe but the "preferred clay pot" gives it away entirely! In her newish Morocco cookbook, she revised it to have more canned tomatoes (and she recommends the Muir fire roasted ones) and just the jarred sun dried-s in oil without added tomato paste. I've made both and like them both and find them much better than any tomato paste canned, jarred or in a tube...but I just made the one "from Morocco" and love it. I think it all depends on your personal preference as to what works best for you. I do tend to use more of it than I would regular tomato paste. I've also found that it works wonders in many situations....once I made a lamb stew with pomegranate juice and a bunch of different herbs and spices and I panicked, I had a large crowd and it tasted so muddy....I added a big dollop of "Paula's paste" and it was indeed a miracle. Everything came together with a big nice zing.