Trying something new to me, need expert advice!

dspen(5b/6a)August 17, 2012

Hi, I would like to try canning my own tomato paste this year and have been researching and am finding lots of conflicting recipes and opinions. Some love the finished product and some say its bland and tasteless.

Does anyone have any recipes, opinions and advice they would like to share?

Thanks so much


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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Plain tomato paste, depending on the thickness you want, can be difficult to get cooked down to a true paste consistency without scorching it. Not to mention that it takes a great deal of time (hours and hours) and cooking energy (gas or electric + yours) to accomplish and then the processing time is another 45 mins. long just because of the density.

For that reason alone, wife and I prefer making various flavored tomato sauces in our house but a few cans of store-bought plain tomato paste can come in handy for thickening other tomato based recipes. But it isn't a frequently used item.

FAIK there is only the 1 approved and tested tomato paste recipe remaining as NCHFP has pulled their recipe although it may still be found in earlier editions of So Easy to Preserve. It is in the Ball Complete Book pg. 361. It is a very long set of instructions but I can post them if you can find it any other way.

It calls for a minimum of 3 1/2 hours cooking down but the one time I made it it was more like 5-6 hours. Even then while it would mound on the spoon it was still more a really thick sauce rather then the tomato paste one buys in the store cans.

What works best for use is to dehydrate tomatoes and grind them to make tomato powder. It can then be used as is or quickly rehydrated to whatever consistency you want.

Can I ask what about paste appeals to you vs. tomato sauce?


    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 2:43PM
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Thanks Dave

I really dont use a bunch of paste during the year, however, I love to dry different things, just to see how it turns out. I do use paste making homemade pizza sauce in large amounts which I then freeze. I do use paste in Annies Salsa. I make usually 3-4 batches of that every year.

I have been sun drying a few paste tomatoes each year and then freeze them. I guess I could dehydrate some of them and grind them for powder.

I dont have a So Easy to Preserve, and it is bothersome that they would have pulled the paste recipe. I guess if I do decide to spend the time, I will freeze the finished produce instead of processing in a canner.

I am just curious for the opinions of the experts on this forum.

Thanks so much


    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 3:02PM
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I tried it once and I used a crockpot to cook it down. It took 2 days IIRC, which got me to thinkin' that for 69 cents a can - or whatever it is these days - it just wasn't worth the time prepping the tomatoes, the energy used plus the final product wasn't as good.

There are still a few things I buy that are commercially canned, and tomato paste is definitely one of them.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 3:45PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Ditto what Dave and Malna said, I wouldn't make it again for no more than I use. Have you tried the 'toothpaste tube' style tomato paste packaging? Much easier to keep any left over in the refer, although you do have to watch the 'use by' date which seems to be less time than the canned product. It's not helpful to conveniently store the unused product portion only to find yourself throwing it away because its a month past the date stamped :)

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 4:59PM
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What I do with leftover tomato paste in the can is freeze it in tablespoon sized dollops (cover a small tray or cookie sheet with plastic wrap and plop it on there). Pop the tray in the freezer, then peel the frozen blobs off, put them in a container or vacuum seal in a bag, and use them in recipes as if they were fresh.

I can't tell you how many moldy 2/3 full cans I tossed out of the fridge before I figured out I could freeze them.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 5:05PM
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Wow, I am surprised. So far no one is for the homemade paste. Thats probably why I dont see many postings. I know it would take lots of hours to cook down. I saw a few forums that said process it with oil on top. That didnt see right to me especially when oil is a no no with canning. I saw one forum that said to bake it down in the oven. I saw the crock pot comments, which seemed like the easiest.

Thanks for all of your comments


    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 5:16PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I think too many times we forget to compute what it would cost us in real $$$ to can some things. Even if we figure nothing for our time the cost of the kilowatt hours alone - even with a crockpot - would be more than buying cans of it.

That $$ factor isn't so important when the resulting home-canned quality far surpasses the store-bought. But in the case of tomato paste that claim just doesn't hold up. :)


    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 5:44PM
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You know, I was kinda surprised at the tomato paste recipe in the Ball Complete book which included peppers, bay leaves and garlic (optional) plus salt and lemon juice or citric acid.

I looked at my last remaining can of tomato paste (after the 8 gallon salsa making marathon this week) and ingredients are: tomato pulp. No other flavors or additives.

Dspen, if you want to try it - go for it. The only thing most of us are saying is it's a lot of time and energy (both yours and the power company's) to produce something you may - or may not - be happy with because it will be so different from the "stuff in the can from the store".

If you decide to make it, let us know what you think. Above all, have fun!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 6:34PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I have had really good luck shopping at local discount grocery outlets. On several occasions I have found Italian "gourmet" paste deeply discounted. Not only does it cost less than it would be for me to process it, but the quality, I think, is far superior. That's a function of the Italian climate plus professional processing facilities.

I use our tomatoes for other products.


    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 6:48PM
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Malna, the freezing dollops is brilliant! Who would have thought? Thanks!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 8:32PM
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A little off subject, but while discussing tomato paste, might I recommend the Ball Blue Book Taco Sauce recipe? This is made from commercially canned tomato paste. This was one of the first things I ever water bath canned. I know you can get any brand, or generic, taco sauce for probably about the same as far as price goes. But we really like it here.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 8:45PM
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Thanks Everyone!
I will let you know if I make it and how it turns out.

I always get a lot of valuable infomation on these forums. I really appreciate all of your time!


    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 7:57AM
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david52 Zone 6

I just saw this thread. For a few years, I tried making my own paste by running the tomatoes through a food mill to remove seeds and skins, then taking the resulting thick juice and putting it in plastic picnic plates, then into the food dehydrator.

Its not that easy, too deep in the plates it ferments before it tries, to shallow you end up with 'tomato leather'. But with practice, it was reasonably easy to come up with a decent paste. But its a whole lotta work for not much paste.

The reasons I tried was to get a better tasting result, figuring that most store-bought tomato paste comes from mechanically harvested hybrid plum tomatoes that are picked at the convenience of the factory, which is why so many of them taste like cardboard.

LIke others, I've found that just buying a few cans of tomato paste and adding it as a thickener is the way to go. I usually stick with Contadina, which seems to be pretty consistent with good flavor. Far better than anything else I've tried.

Each season, we can 100 or so quarts of thickened, tomato-based sauces. With that amount, I buy tomato paste in #10 cans, by the case of 6 - even with shipping, its half the cost of buying those 12 oz cans in the store. I open a can, divide it into plastic bags each holding two cups, one bag is enough for a 10 wt batch of sauce. They can easily be frozen.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 8:12PM
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Fantastic David! And sounds more environmental as well. Less cans for recycling. Less waste as others mentioned. And less money to donate to a grocer's mansion. I love this! EVERY dime counts.....

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 12:16AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I oven-roast tomatoes sprinkled with sliced garlic and basil and drizzled with olive oil and a touch of balsamic.

Wonderful flavor and when whirred in a blender makes a very thick "paste-like" sauce.

Freezes beautifully.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 1:51AM
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