Tomato paste is an excellent ingredient for adding flavor to stewed and sauced dishes, and many home cooks have piles of canned tomato paste hidden in the kitchen. You can easily make your own tomato paste instead of relying on canned tomato paste. All you need are some materials and enough time. Here's what you need to do to make tomato paste using the stove or oven.
Makes about 1.5 cups (375 ml) of pasta
- 5 lbs (2250 g) tomatoes
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) plus 2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
- Salt, to taste
Part 1 of 3: Preparing the Tomatoes
Step 1. Cut the tomatoes
Coarsely chop the tomatoes with a sharp kitchen knife, cut the tomatoes into small pieces.
- Plum tomatoes are great for this recipe, but you can use any type of summer tomato you want. Smaller tomatoes generally have a lighter, sweeter taste, and are not commonly used in tomato paste. Larger tomatoes have a richer taste. For a more complex taste, use several varieties to make your tomato paste.
- Tomato pieces should be as small as about 1.25 cm.
Step 2. Heat the oil in a large skillet
Place cup (60 ml) olive oil in a 30.5 cm diameter skillet and heat over high heat.
- For the best taste, use extra-virgin olive oil. Other olive oils are also good to use. If you don't have olive oil in your kitchen, you can substitute canola oil or plain vegetable oil.
- Heat the oil for a few minutes before moving on to the next step.
Step 3. Cook the tomatoes briefly with salt
Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan. Season with a pinch of salt, to taste, bring to a boil. Cook until soft.
- Be careful, the tomatoes may splatter when you put them in the pan or while they are cooking. Reduce splashing, use a skillet with high edges.
- Stir the tomatoes continuously as they cook.
- The tomatoes will be very soft. Once it boils, you can let it sit for about 8 minutes.
- Once the tomatoes are soft, remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
- The amount of salt you use depends on your taste. But as a rule of thumb, add about tsp (2.5 ml) of salt for every 5 plum tomatoes or 2 beefsteak tomatoes.
- For a more complex flavour, you can also add 3 peeled and crushed garlic cloves and 2 bay leaves to the tomatoes as they cook until soft. Just make sure you use tomato paste in recipes that call for a strong garlic flavor.
- For a rich and unique taste, you can leave out the salt altogether, and instead add 1 tbsp (15 ml) of soy sauce.
Step 4. Remove seeds and skin
Once the tomatoes have cooled a bit, put them in a food grinder. This will separate the skin and seeds from the solution and usable tomato flesh.
- Use the finest food grinder to make sure all the seeds are separated.
- If you don't have a food grinder, you can remove the skin and seeds separately. Peel the skin before cooking the tomatoes in the pan. Once thirsty, use a sieve with a fine mesh to remove the seeds.
- An easy way to remove the skin before cooking the tomatoes is to put them in boiling water for 15 to 20 seconds. Quickly transfer the tomatoes to the ice water to stop the cooking process. At that time the skin will be easily peeled off with your fingers.
- When this process is complete, you will get a thin tomato solution.
Part 2 of 3: The Method of Using the Stove
Step 1. Return the tomatoes to the pan
Transfer the solution and tomato pulp back to a 30.5 cm (2 in) skillet.
- The bottom of the pan should be able to fill with the tomato solution about 2.5 cm thick. If the tomatoes are not that high, they will likely burn. If it is much higher, it will take too long to make the tomato solution into a paste.
- If needed, transfer the tomato solution to a smaller or larger skillet to bring it closer to 2.5 cm. You don't have to do anything to prepare a new skillet before adding the tomatoes to it.
Step 2. Cook for a few hours until thick
Cook the tomatoes uncovered over medium-low heat until they are a paste-like consistency.
- Stir the tomatoes occasionally as they cook so they don't burn or stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Let it cook without the lid so the steam and water can evaporate into the air. Because otherwise the tomatoes won't thicken properly.
- You should be able to see steam coming from the tomatoes in the pan, but not bubbling or boiling. When you see bubbles starting to come out, turn down the heat.
- It can take 2 to 3 hours for the tomatoes to thicken into a paste.
Step 3. Put the tomatoes in the processor, if needed
If the tomatoes are uneven, puree in a food processor or blender.
This step should be done when the tomatoes have reached a sauce-like consistency. Don't puree while it's still runny and don't wait until some of the tomatoes have become a paste
Part 3 of 3: Methods of Using the Oven
Step 1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius
Prepare a lined baking sheet by greasing it with the remaining 2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil.
- Use a 33 cm by 46 cm baking dish. Make sure there are edges; otherwise the tomato pulp will run off the edges of the pan and then onto the table or in the oven.
- If desired you can also use a thick pan with a tight lid (Dutch oven). But roast the tomatoes without the lid.
- Olive oil is best, but canola oil or unsalted vegetable oil can be used if you don't have olive oil in your kitchen.
Step 2. Pour the tomato puree into the pan
Pour the lightly cooked tomato puree into the prepared baking dish with a flat surface.
Spread the porridge with a spatula or flatten it by gently shaking the pan, shaking it with the pan still resting on the table
Step 3. Bake the porridge for about 3 hours
Most of the water should have evaporated and the surface should be a solid color.
- Use a spatula to turn or stir the porridge every half hour or so. If you don't stir, the tomatoes won't thicken evenly.
- By the end of this step, the tomatoes should have reached a sauce-like consistency.
Step 4. Reduce heat and continue baking
Reduce oven heat to 130 degrees Celsius. Continue to bake for about 20 to 25 minutes more.
By the end of this step, the tomatoes should have thickened into a thick paste. The color should be dark brick red
Step 5. Done
- Pour the tomato paste into ice cube molds and freeze for up to 6 months. Make sure the ice cube mold is covered with plastic wrap properly to prevent frost shock.
- Transfer the homemade tomato paste to a glass jar and refrigerate for up to a month. To make the pasta last a month or two longer, coat the entire surface with a layer of olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt.