Friday, August 12, 2011

Preserving Floyd: More Than Just Tomato Paste

I made this stuff last year and didn't make near enough of it.
Rich, dark, and sweet from it's own sugar, this is what we use instead of tomato sauce on pizza.  This gets spread on crostini and paired with a host of other goodies.  This is a surprising condiment on sandwiches.  A spoonful of this on pasta is as redolent of summer as any pesto.  In addition to it's many other uses and applications, this is the best damn tomato paste you've ever tasted!
This tomato paste requires patience and time but no watching over it like a hawk.  You can go about your day while it mostly takes care of itself.  But do allow it plenty of time to cook down.  That's where it's rich sweetness comes from.  Paste tomatoes are best for this but any type of tomatoes or combinations of tomatoes can be used.  If you've got a plethora of different tomatoes in your garden at the end of the season this could be a great way to use them up.  There's barely a list of ingredients.  Tomatoes.  A touch of olive oil.  Salt.  Lemon juice.  But the result is complex and savory and you'll find yourself eating it off the spoon.

Tomato Paste
Preheat the oven to 300F.
Blanch, peel, and core enough tomatoes to fill a large pot.  Cut out any bruises, blemishes, or bad spots.
Crush them in the pot with either your hands or a potato masher.  Add olive oil (about 1/4 cup) and salt (about a teaspoon) and bring to a simmer for about three minutes:

Thoroughly puree the simmered tomatoes either with an immersion blender or in the food processor,

and then push the tomatoes through a sieve, discarding the seeds.

Pour the tomato sauce into a large roaster or other large, flat ovenproof container.  Rimmed baking sheets will work but you may have to use two or do the sauce in batches.

Put the roaster in the oven. Thoroughly stir the mixture every half hour or so for the next 3 ½ hours.  Be sure to scrape the sides and corners of the pan and stir into the center.

Reduce heat to 250° and bake, stirring occasionally,  until the sauce has reduced to a very thick brick-colored paste.  Stir more often as the paste thickens.  This will take up to 6 hours or more depending on how much sauce you're reducing.  Be patient, this slow prolonged cooking makes magic!
Rich, dark brick red color
Measure the paste while transferring into a stovetop pot.  For a pint of paste, add 1 tablespoon of bottled lemon juice.  For every quart of paste, add a 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice.  Stir lemon juice in thoroughly.

Keep the tomato paste hot while ladling into half pint or 4 oz jars.  Leave ¼” headspace.  Wipe rims and adjust lids.  Process in a boiling water bath for 45 minutes at sea level.  Adjust time for altitude.


  1. just curious, how many pints did you get from this batch? sounds devine! I can't wait until my tomatoes are ready!

    1. I'm gonna guesstimate that I got 12 4-oz jars out of that batch. It takes a lot of sauce to make tomato paste but this stuff is so good it's worth it! Since this post I've gotten a Vittorio-type food mill that allows me to go straight from raw whole tomato to raw sauce cutting out the peeling, coring and straining steps. I've also found a local tomato grower that supplies me with wonderful (albeit conventionally grown)tomatoes by the bushel for an extremely low price. These two things combined make making the tomato paste far more cost efficient.

  2. Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you! I have been looking for a great tomato paste recipe. I found your comment on Food In Jars. I can't wait until the tomatoes are here. Yay!