Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Homemade Tomato Paste

Homemade Tomato Paste



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Fear Conquered: Homemade Tomato Paste

When I first realized that I wanted to stop cooking with cans, jars, pre-made mixes, and prepackaged shortcuts, I was terrified of a life without tomato paste. So many of my favorite recipes I grew up with relied heavily on this simple paste - stuffed shells, spaghetti and meatballs, spinach lasagna, marinara sauce, pizza, meatloaf, and even copper pennies carrot salad. Tomato paste was always the special something extra with that gave tomato life to any recipe - and it was as easy as opening a can.

Canned Pantry Items

Growing up, I was so reliant on tomato paste that when it was my turn to make dinner, I would first check the pantry for a can of paste before I even figured out what I was going to make. Because if there was a can of paste, I knew I had easy options for a quick dinner. And if there wasn't a can of paste, I would immediately add it to my dad's grocery list - and start puzzling what the devil I was going to make that didn't require tomato paste. For years I trusted canned tomato paste to help get dinner on the table, and even when I started cooking for Boyfriend Javelin, tomato paste was the one ingredient I always kept well stocked.

Once I banished cans from my kitchen (to avoid that dreadful BPA), I made a bargain with myself: tomato paste was the only ingredient I would use from a can. And I would try not to use it. I had always believed tomato paste was terribly difficult to make and suspected it involved some kind of esoteric processing magic known only to tomato canners. Thus, what could I do but continue to ingest that occasional bit of BPA with my canned paste?

Tomato Paste

Determined to kick the can entirely, I tried to eliminate paste from my recipes, but I soon realized it just wasn't practical. Sometimes there is no good substitute for tomato paste. Sometimes it truly is the best option. So I found myself grudgingly opening yet another can and turning a blind eye to the BPA. Which left me cringing in shame and frustration. If only I could make my own tomato paste…

And then I did. It all happened by accident, really. I was simmering a batch of marinara sauce, waiting for the sauce to reduce and thicken, and idly thinking I should try pureeing the sauce at the end. And after pureeing the sauce, I wondered if I would need to reduce it again for a thicker consistency. Suddenly, I knew how I would make tomato paste - puree marinara sauce then cook out all the liquid until it formed a paste.

Just like that, fear conquered. Goodbye cans, goodbye BPA. And it's so simple it's hard to believe it took me so many years to kick the can.



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Photo Tutorial

1 Cup Homemade Marinara Sauce
Start with 1 cup homemade marinara sauce

Marinara in Ninja Blender
Puree the marinara sauce in a blender

Marinara Sauce Pureed
Transfer the tomato puree to a small pot

Simmering Tomato Puree Over Low Heat
Cover and simmer puree over low heat for 30-40 minutes

Puree of Marinara Sauce in Small Pot
Stir puree every 10 minutes and reduce heat as puree thickens

Homemade Tomato Paste
Puree will change into tomato paste

Homemade Tomato Paste
Store tomato paste in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator



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Homemade Tomato Paste

  by Javelin Warrior
  Prep Time: 5 min
  Cook Time: 30 min
  

Ingredients (1/2 cup paste)
Instructions
  1. In an electric blender, puree the marinara sauce until completely smooth
  2. Pour the tomato puree into a small pot over low heat and simmer, partially covered, for 30-45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes and gradually reducing the heat as the sauce thickens into a paste
  3. Cool the paste completely before storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator; the paste can be stored for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer

An original recipe by Javelin Warrior. © 2012 Javelin Warrior. All rights reserved.
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Hungry for Tips?
  • Homemade tomato paste is not as brilliantly red in color as the canned variety - it’s more of a deep red, closer in color to empire red. For me, this isn’t a problem because I rarely use tomato paste for the color.

    Homemade Tomato Paste
     
  • As the steam escapes from the tomato puree, it will gradually thicken and eventually form a paste. Once it forms a paste, it will burn easily if left over heat, so watch the thickened puree closely once it’s close to a paste consistency.
     
  • I use my marinara sauce as a starting point for my tomato paste because I always have a least a couple quarts in my freezer so it’s easy to just grab one when I’m ready to make paste. However, you could also make this paste using plain tomatoes without any seasonings: 1) Cook down the tomatoes into a sauce, 2) Puree the sauce, 3) Reduce the sauce until it forms a paste.

    1 Cup Homemade Marinara Sauce



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13 comments:

  1. Kayle (The Cooking Actress)October 17, 2012 at 10:30 AM

    Such a great idea!!!!!

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  2. What a great tip for making homemade tomato paste. My parents used to buy fresh tomatoes and make their own passata at home, hundreds of bottles were stored for the winter. I grew up eating only fresh homemade tomato sauce. Wonderful. Unfortunately, I use tinned tomatoes (like millions of Italians making their own pasta sauce everyday), I buy good quality Italian peeled plum tomatoes because I know that the Italian market is very demanding and require top quality tomatoes. This is not an ideal solution (my parents solution was the ideal one!!), but I feel that for me is still acceptable.

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  3. What a great recipe and tutorial JW and you are right, homemade is so much bette than stuff you get in tubes,

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  4. It's tough eliminating cans from our lives - I couldn't live without high quality canned tomatoes, for example. But I applaud your decision to break free from them! Really nice recipe. I've never thought to make my own tomato paste - perhaps I should! Thanks for this.

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  5. Thanks, Kayle - I can't believe it took me this long to come up with a solution for canned paste ;)

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  6. Fortunately, some companies in the tomato canning industry are now finally processing the tomatoes without BPA, so it is now possible to open a can of tomatoes without fear of feeding loved ones BPA. I prefer to start with fresh tomatoes to avoid all canning chemicals, but it's certainly a personal choice...

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  7. I'm so glad you enjoyed, Karen - once I figured out how simple it was to make, I haven't bothered with a can or tube since :)

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  8. I'm so glad you enjoyed the recipe, John. You know, at first (2-3 years ago) it really was painful getting rid of cans from the kitchen. But I came to realize I really only used a few things from cans or jars (tomatoes, sauces, pumpkin), so I focused on switching to the fresh or frozen variety. In the winter I don't tend to eat as any dishes that require tomatoes, so that helps. And my marinara sauce is made from plum/roma tomatoes and cherry/grape tomatoes, so it works pretty much year round with what's available locally...

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  9. mjskit @ mjskitchen.comOctober 18, 2012 at 12:14 AM

    Good for you for eliminating cans! I certainly have reduced them, but can quite eliminate them totally - yet! You are certainly an inspiration to do it. I did eliminate the canned tomato paste years ago once I found the Amore paste in a tube. Now you're telling I can eliminate that. Your paste certainly does look perfect! Great post Mark!

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  10. I am finally done with cans and I don't use much out of bottle, but they're harder to eliminate because of things like Worcestershire sauce, peanut butter, mustards, etc. And I'm not really opposed to any of those ingredients anyway (and I don't believe BPA is typically used in the jarring process anyway) so there's less impetus for me to eliminate them ;) I'm glad you enjoyed the post and if you get a chance to try the paste, let me know how it works out for you...

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  11. This is just awesome!! We don't buy many canned products, but tomato paste is one of them. I too thought it would be such a huge project. Thanks so much for sharing this - I can't wait to give it a try and get rid of the canned stuffed. Have a great weekend!

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  12. If you get a chance to try it, let me know how it goes for you. I'm so glad I could share and it kind of feels a little TOO easy, right? :)

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  13. Thanks so much for sharing this! Tomato paste is one of the very few things that I used from a can because I had no idea how to make it. It almost seems to easy! My mother-in-law makes her own and it was so delicious I knew I just had to start making it too! Thanks for sharing.

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