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Jul 30, 2014 07:27 AM

My recipe calls for tomato sauce BUT

all I have is tomato paste. How do I turn paste into sauce??? Can it be done?
Reason is because I bought 3 cans of paste for a dollar ($.33 each). I can't get sauce for that price.


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  1. Sure, make a Bolognese sauce.

    1. Yes, sure- it won't be quite the same, but it doesn't mean it won't taste good.
      Assuming the recipe calls for sauteing onion and garlic, you should add a couple tablespoons of paste toward the end of cooking the vegetables, cook it for 2 minutes, and add some chicken stock.
      That should get you approximately the same flavor and volume.

      1. No no, it's a chili recipe of mine. It calls for two 8oz cans of tomato sauce and 16oz of water.
        I thought I could dilute the paste down to get sauce.
        Imma cheapskate.

        10 Replies
        1. re: thegrindre

          The problem is tomato paste is basically ground up whole tomatoes. Including all the seeds and skin. Both are the bitter part of the tomato.
          You can add some sugar to camo the bitterness of the seeds/skins.
          The reason all recipes calling for some form of tomato never call for adding say a whole tin of paste is b/c the result would be terrible. That's why the paste comes in such small cans too.
          The 'umami' from tomatoes is found in the pulp only.
          When I use tomatoes I only buy whole canned tomatoes or fresh. I put them in a food processor and 'pulse' until they are fine chopped then I sieve out all the seeds/skin BEFORE using the tomatoes in cooking.

          1. re: Puffin3

            cooking large-ish quantities of stuff often calls for entire cans of tomato paste -- like for spaghetti sauce -- so it depends on how much chili we're talking about.

            diluted paste will not be the "same" as using sauce, but you can use it as a springboard. chili certainly is not an exact science anyway. :)

            1. re: Puffin3

              That is not the Case. The Skins and Seeds are removed before the Concentrating takes place.

              1. re: Puffin3

                Tomato paste is NOT basically ground tomatoes with skin and seeds. And it's totally not bitter.

                It's super concentrated tomato with the skins and seeds removed.

                It's really not a substitute for tomato sauce because it contains no solids and it's pretty sweet.

                But you can put it in a blender with the right amount of water and see what happens.

              2. re: thegrindre

                I would use one 8oz can (or 6oz, whatever you have) of tomato paste and 24oz of water. It will work just fine.

                1. re: biondanonima

                  I see tomato paste in 6 and, rarely, 12 oz cans. I'd use 8-10 oz of water per 6 oz can. Stir it up and see if it's the same thickness as tomato sauce; adjust if necessary.
                  You definitely can use it in chili and spaghetti sauce. My own version of chili, which is proudly inauthentic, uses
                  tomato paste and no other form of tomato. One can of water, plus the liquid from the canned beans, and what exudes from the peppers and onions, are the total volume of the liquid in the chili.

                  1. re: greygarious

                    This is very helpful. 3-6oz. cans for a dollar looked pretty good to me considering Contadina sells for about $.50 or more a can now. I don't use Hunts, it's even more expensive.
                    I'll try the 8-10 ounces of water to dilute it down then add a few spices for good measure.


                    1. re: thegrindre

                      Sub some of the water for wine.

                      1. re: treb

                        Substituting wine for some of the water is a good idea since tomatoes have flavor compounds that are only released in the presence of alcohol.

                        1. re: treb

                          Sorry, I don't do alcohol. Gotta stick with water.

                2. IMO for chili you should be fine - dilute the paste to the consistency of sauce - it may taste a bit different but for chili there should be enough other stuff going on that I would not worry so much about it

                  if it was to be a pasta topping or something I would be more concerned

                  1. I just Googled a few of the tomato sauce brands I;ve used and many of the canned sauce varieties use tomato concentrate, which is listed as just tomato paste and water, so I say go for it.

                    Tomato paste is obviously cooked down, so can be sweeter and more pungent than tomato sauce due to cook time.

                    I;d measure out your water first and slowly add tomato paste until you get the proper taste and consistancy.

                    Good luck.