Making Tomato Paste

The tomato bounty contines.

Victor was online and came across recipes for tomato paste. We had both thought about making it, but neither of us were thrilled about stirring it on the stovetop for literal hours, worrying about scorching or burning…

Enter the Oven Method!

The concept is to take the tomato juice/pulp and reduce it in the oven instead of on the stove. Since we can’t do it outdoors as they do in Sicily, it seemed like a perfect solution. We watched a video of people in Sicily making tomato paste – spreading the juicy pulp on five wooden tables outdoors, and then gradually combining it until they were left with a bucket of paste.

The reality is you don’t get a lot of volume – it reduces 90%. One woman made a great point, though, about it – Yes, it’s a bit of work, but would you ever consider spreading canned tomato paste on a crusty slice of bread?!? Most likely, not. You will with this, however! We spread it on fish and then topped it with fresh tomato relish – but that’s another story.

We added just a bit of citric acid. Tomatoes are naturally acidic – something you want for canning – but the seeds carry a lot of that acidic content and you take out the seeds for paste.

You can use any tomatoes, but plum tomatoes will give you the most volume per pound – they’re more meaty. We did a combination of about 7 pounds of plum/San Marzano and 3 pounds heirloom.

You’ll need a food mill and 2 rimmed sheet pans. You will also need 3 to 4 hours of oven time. It will vary based on the juiciness of your tomatoes.

Tomato Paste

  • 10 pounds tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp citric acid

Wash and cut tomatoes. Add 2 teaspoons of salt and 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and mix well.

Making Tomato Paste

Simmer the tomatoes until they break down and are soft and cooked through.

Making Tomato Paste

Let cool a bit and then pass through a food mill.

Making Tomato Paste

Spread juice/pulp onto two sheet pans and place in upper and lower thirds of a preheated 350°F oven. Bake for 30 minutes.

Making Tomato Paste

After 30 minutes, remove from oven, stir, and return – switching pan location each time. This is after the first 30 minutes. Still quite thin, but noticeably thicker than when it went in.

Making Tomato Paste

After an hour and a half.

Making Tomato Paste

After 3 hours. The deep brick red color you’re looking for.

Making Tomato Paste

Ready to jar.

Making Tomato Paste

The finished product.

Making Tomato Paste

You can place it in containers and freeze, or you can can it either with a water bath or pressure canner. We have a pressure canner, so I use it almost exclusively.

Use 4 oz jars.

For a water bath, process for 15 minutes or process for 15 minutes at 11 pounds pressure with the pressure canner.

The result is unbelievable – the most awesomely rich tomato flavor you may ever experience.

We’re hoping we’ll be able to do at least one more batch before the season is over.

It really is awesome stuff!