Easy Tomato Paste
Tomato paste is great for adding body, flavor, and thickness to sauces and other dishes. It's so simple to make and well worth it. The flavor is much better than the canned stuff. Make up a bunch when tomatoes are plentiful and freeze for the winter months. Even if you don't have a garden, tomatoes are easy to come by in late summer months at Farmer's markets. Ever had a neighbor or relative offer you some tomatoes? This time, you'll know what to do with them.
Tomatoes. No need to peel, or seed them. *See notes below.
Onion, optional (I use about 1 for a standard size large pot full of tomatoes)
Garlic, optional (I use about 5 for a standard size large pot full of tomatoes)
Carrot, optional (I use about 1 for a standard size large pot full of tomatoes)
Puree everything in a blender until very smooth. If you have a lot of tomatoes, you may need to do this in batches.
Pour into a pot. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a gentle simmer, uncovered.
Simmer, simmer and simmer some more, until it's reduced to desired thickness. It takes about 5-6 hours to reduce 6 pounds of tomatoes. You know it is thick enough when it sticks to a spoon turned sideways rather than running, or sliding off of the spoon.
Stir occasionally. This is pretty much hands off for the first several hours; however when it starts getting very thick you will need to stir it occasionally. It needs to reduce more than you might think. My yield from 6 pounds of tomatoes is slightly less than 2 cups.
Divide into portions and freeze. *See notes below.
It's thick stuff! It's also rich and full of flavor.
Make sure your pan is uncovered to allow the liquid to evaporate and reduce.
If you would rather have tomato sauce, just don't reduce it as much.
I like to divide my paste into 1 or 2 Tbsp. portions as many recipes call for just 2 Tbsp. of sauce. Measure the paste into little piles on a greased, or parchment lined cookie sheet. Freeze until very firm and then place in a bag, or container in the freezer. Two tablespoons is about 1 oz.
A 1 or 2 tablespoon cookie scoop works well for portioning out the tomato paste to freeze.
Some tomatoes are more meaty, than others and will need to reduce less.
The amount of time you'll need to reduce, will depend upon how many tomatoes you are using, as well as the size of your pan. Tomatoes will reduce faster in cookware with a bigger surface area. Six pounds of tomatoes in a medium pot will take about 5-6 hours to reduce to a paste.
If you prefer, you can pass the tomatoes and vegetables through a food mill; or peel and de-seed them; however, much of the umami flavor is in the seeds. In fact, according to Chris Kimball, the flavor compounds, or glutamates are three times more concentrated in the seeds than in the flesh. This is an excellent excuse for me to be lazy and not bother seeding, or peeling my tomatoes!
The pureed whole tomatoes, surprisingly yield a nice and smooth paste; however, you will notice some seeds in the paste. For an even smoother paste, cool it after it has reduced and puree again in the blender before storing. The Blendtec twister jar works great for this, but in a bigger blender, you'll need to stop and scrape down container as needed. An immersion blender might also do the job, although I haven't tried it.
You should be able to do this in a slow cooker, although this is something else I haven't tried. I would try cooking on high with the lid cracked a bit to allow the tomato liquid to evaporate more easily and reduce. It will also need to cook longer.