With a garden full of tomatoes, I’m always looking for new things to do with them. So often an abundance of tomatoes ripens all at once, and — aside from salads, sauces, gazpacho and toasted tomato sandwiches — there’s only so much you can do to use them all up.
How To Preserve Tomatoes: Step-By-Step Instructions
One of my favourite things to do when I have a whack of tomatoes is to make homemade tomato paste. Store-bought, canned tomato paste is one ingredient I do my best to avoid using. I find it tinny and over-salted with a flat flavour. After making it myself, I’m a convert and make a batch every season (the difference is remarkable). Homemade tomato paste, despite being cooked for a long time tasted fresh, flavourful and amazingly tomato-like.
Tomato paste takes a lot of tomatoes to make, that’s why I always use my slightly imperfect tomatoes. It’s fine if they’re overripe, have split or have some blemishes. Cut out any unwanted parts and put the rest to good use. It’s really simple to make but takes some tending, so plan to make it when you’ll be home for a few hours. Have fun!
Homemade Tomato Paste
Prep: 20 minutes
Total: 3 hours 30 minutes
Makes: 1 cup
- 5 lbs ripe tomatoes
- 11/2 tsp kosher salt
- olive oil
- CORE tomatoes then cut in half or quarters if large. Scoop out seeds with fingers and discard. Place tomatoes in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer vigorously for 30 minutes or until tomatoes are very soft and have released their liquid.
- PLACE a fine sieve over a large bowl. Scoop a ladle-full of tomatoes into the sieve and push through using the back of the ladle. Discard tomato skins and seeds. Repeat with remaining tomatoes.
- RETURN strained tomatoes to same pot over high heat. Stir in salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until the liquid yields 2 cups, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat.
- PREHEAT oven to 200F. Oil a 9 x 9 inch baking pan with olive oil. Pour the purée into the baking pan and spread in an even layer. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and stir, pulling the purée from the edges into the centre (you want to prevent the edges from cooking too quickly). Spread into an even layer again and return to oven. Bake for 30 more minutes then stir and spread again. Repeat process until paste is very thick and yields a heaping 1 cup.
- TRANSFER to a jar and cover the top with a thin layer of olive oil. Keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.
**Tomato paste freezes very well. If you don’t plan to use it all within the week, divide it into 1 or 2 tbsp portions and freeze individually so it’s ready to use when you need it.
Originally published September 2nd, 2014.