Homemade Tomato Paste

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

by Cat, Feb 2009 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

See also: Fresh Tomato Paste for Parmigiana Sauce)

Mmmm.  Tomato paste is ubiquitous in so much of our cooking, and most of us simply buy those little cans of tomato paste.  But what to do if you only need a tablespoon?  What to do if you don’t want the lead that can leach into the acid tomatoes from the solder used to make the can? Or the toxins that can leach into the tomatoes from BPA in the epoxy lining used to coat the solder?

The solution:  make your own paste, then freeze it in ice cube trays for 1 or 2-Tbsp size cubes, or in yogurt cups for larger servings.  Or can the sauce in half-pint jars (pressure canning recommended for all tomatoes).


Tomato Paste Recipe

Food Mill (Moulinette)

Food Mill (Moulinette)

This is adapted from Food.com (3). (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

You can go to the trouble of peeling and de-seeding your tomatoes, or you can just let the sieve (food mill) do that work for you.

Some recipes don’t add any other veggies, but I like to add a bit of minced onion and carrot to my paste (I also list celery, but I don’t usually use that). Garlic is another nice addition.  Herbs can also be added, but be sure to label with the added herbs so you don’t put a basil-flavored paste into a recipe that doesn’t work well with basil, for example.

If you don’t have a food mill, you can strain your paste through good quality cheesecloth-lined strainer, or through coffee filters (see Greek Food About.com (1) for tomato paste recipe).

According to Group Recipes (2), 5 lb tomatoes makes 1 cup tomato paste, so 7 pounds tomatoes makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • 7 lbs plum tomatoes (or other meaty varieties), organic or home-grown
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery (optional)
  • 1 cup chopped carrot (optional)
  • 1 cup chopped red onion (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed (optional)
  • Unrefined sea salt, 1/2 tsp per quart of chopped tomatoes
  • 8 peppercorns
  • herbs & spices (optional; see below)
  • olive oil (for refrigerator storage)
  • large heavy saucepan
  • foodmill or sieve
  • ice cube tray or yogurt cups (for freezer storage)

Optional herbs, Spices:

  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil (or 1 Tbsp dried)
  • 1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary (or 1/4 tsp dried)
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh oregano (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 – 6 whole cloves


  1. Wash tomatoes and remove the cores.  Chop coarsely, and measure volume.  7 pounds should make about 4 quarts of chopped tomatoes.
  2. Chop celery, carrots and onion; mince the garlic.
  3. Place tomatoes and veggies in a large heavy saucepan.  Add salt and peppercorns;  also herbs/spices, if using. You may wish to add fresh basil during last 10 minutes of simmer.
  4. Bring to boil, reduce heat & simmer, covered, about 25-30 minutes, or until soft. Stir occasionally.
  5. Press through  foodmill or sieve; or drain off excess liquid through a cheesecloth-lined strainer (in refrigerator).
  6. Return to cleaned heavy saucepan, and cook over very low heat for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally until very thick–should hold its shape on a teaspoon.  Adjust seasoning with salt & pepper.
  7. To Freeze:  Cool sauce, then measure 1/2 or 1 Tbsp into each cube of an ice-cube tray, or fill yogurt cups for larger servings.  Freeze.  Remove frozen paste and store in plastic freezer bags.
  8. To refrigerate:  spoon hot sauce into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1 inch at the top.  Cover with 1/4” layer of olive oil; screw on lids and store in fridge. As you use it from a jar, add a bit more oil to keep a good cover.
  9. To canFollow instructions with your pressure canner; ensure lids have vacuum-sealed (listen for the pop) to avoid spoilage.


  1. About Greek Food, Recipe for tomato paste: greekfood.about.com/od/doityourself/r/domatopoltos.htm
  2. Group Recipes, Homemade tomato paste: grouprecipes.com/64102/homemade-tomato-paste.html
  3. Food.com, Garden Tomato Paste: food.com/recipe/garden-tomato-paste-98952

About Cat

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