It's easy to run out of tomato paste and it always seems to happen right when you need it. The good news is that there may already be a simple solution to your problem in your kitchen. Use one of these tricks to save money and avoid another trip to the store.
Essentially, tomato paste is tomato sauce that has been reduced until the liquid boils off and a thick paste is formed. Therefore, the only ingredient you really need is tomato sauce. It can be canned or a fresh tomato sauce you made at home.
To transform your sauce into a paste, simply heat tomato sauce in a pan. Let it simmer and stir it constantly until it is reduced by half. This should take around 10 minutes and produce about 7 ounces of paste from a 15-ounce can of sauce. The average small can of tomato paste is 6 ounces, so make adjustments to fit your recipe.
This can be a messy process because the sauce will bubble. To avoid splatters all over your kitchen, use a splatter screen on top of your pan. If you don't have one, a fine mesh strainer may work if it's large enough to cover the pan. If you don't have either option, reduce the heat so the sauce doesn't bubble as much and be patient because it will take a little longer to reduce.
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Canned or Fresh Tomatoes
There may also be times when you don't have either tomato sauce or paste in the pantry. If you have fresh or canned tomatoes, you can use those instead.
For this method, blend chopped tomatoes in your blender or food processor until they're smooth. Pour this puree into a pan and heat it on the stove using the same method suggested for tomato sauce. It will likely take two or three times as long to reduce, but it will eventually turn into a paste.
Freeze Your Paste
Tomato paste is often used in very small amounts, so you may have made too much. Rather than throw it away, freeze the leftovers so you have paste on hand for the next time you need it. This is a good idea anyway because you can turn your homegrown tomatoes into both a sauce and a paste and avoid buying those cans at the store.
Once it has cooled, transfer your tomato paste to freezer jars or another freezer-safe container. Be sure to allow at least one inch of headspace for expansion. For smaller servings, freeze the paste in ice cube trays then transfer them to a plastic freezer bag once frozen. For the best quality, use the paste within a year.