Tomato Puree

Homemade Tomato Purée Recipe

The Spruce

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Cool Time: 5 mins
Total: 55 mins
Servings: 2 to 12 servings
Yield: 1 to 6 pints
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
10 Calories
0g Fat
2g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 to 12
Amount per serving
Calories 10
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 3mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 8mg 39%
Calcium 6mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 134mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Tomato puree is an ingredient often used in pasta sauce and tomato-based soup recipes. It is silky smooth and free of any seeds or skin that tend to make their way into chopped tomatoes or tomato sauce. While tomato puree is among the many types of canned tomatoes found on grocery store shelves, making it from scratch is easy, and the taste is hard to beat.

Fresh tomato puree keeps in the fridge for up to a week, freezes beautifully, and can be canned for longer storage. The amounts in this recipe are flexible; using the same method, you can make 1 to 6 pints depending on how many tomatoes you have on hand. If you plan to can the puree, be sure to have a 1-pint jar, lid, and ring for every 1 1/2 pounds of tomatoes.

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes, per each pint jar

  •  1/4 teaspoon citric acid (or 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice for each pint jar, if canning)

Steps to Make It

Note: While there are multiple steps to this recipe, this tomato puree and canning process is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for cooking.

Make the Tomato Puree

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Tomato puree recipe
     The Spruce
  2. Starting with clean, dry tomatoes, halve smaller tomatoes and roughly chop larger tomatoes. The tomatoes are going to be pureed, so they don't need to be chopped evenly; cutting allows the tomatoes to release their liquid and cook down faster.

    Tomatoes chopped on a cutting board
     The Spruce
  3. Put all the tomatoes in a pot.

    Chopped tomatoes in a pot
     The Spruce
  4. Over medium-high heat, bring them to a boil. As the temperature in the pot increases, the tomatoes will release some of their liquid, providing their own liquid in which to cook. Reduce the heat to maintain a steady and active simmer (gentle small bubbles should pop up here and there). Cook, stirring frequently until the tomatoes start to break down, for 10 to 15 minutes.

    Cooked tomatoes in a pot
     The Spruce
  5. Let the mixture cool for at least 5 minutes. Run the tomato mixture through a food mill or whirl quickly in a blender or food processor.

    Tomato puree in a blender
     The Spruce
  6. Strain the puree through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the seeds and bits of skin; this also makes for a smooth puree.

    Tomato puree draining through a colander
     The Spruce
  7. If the tomato puree is thin and looks watery, you can return the puree to the pot, bring it to a boil, and then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until it reduces to the texture you want, stirring often. Taste it along the way—you want a nice, bright tomato flavor along with a smooth and slightly thick texture.

    Tomato puree in a bowl with a spoon
    The Spruce

Use Caution When Blending Hot Ingredients

Steam expands quickly in a blender and can cause ingredients to splatter and cause burns. To prevent this, fill the blender only 1/3 of the way up, vent the top, and cover with a folded kitchen towel while blending.

Tips

  • Tomato puree can be made with any variety of tomato. Choose paste tomatoes such as Roma or San Marzano to create a thicker puree. Tomatoes typically reserved for slicing are juicier and will produce a thinner puree.
  • A food mill separates the tomato skins from the juice and pulp and results in a thicker puree. Some of the pulp will get trapped in the skins if you just blend and strain the puree.
  • While straining the puree, stir and press it in the sieve to release more of the pulp. Scrape the bottom of the sieve to release any pulp that gets caught in the mesh.

To Chill or Freeze Puree

  1. Transfer the puree to sealable container(s), leaving an inch of headroom, and chill or freeze until ready to use.

    Tomato puree recipe in a jar
     The Spruce

How Long Does Homemade Tomato Puree Last?

Choose the storage method based on how long you want to keep your tomato puree. Refrigerated puree (including canned puree once open) should be used within a week. Tomato puree can be frozen for up to six months but starts to lose its fresh flavor after about three months. Be sure to use freezer-safe containers. Create smaller portions, by freezing the puree in ice cube trays, then transfer to freezer bags. For longer preservation, can the tomato puree; it will keep for up to one year.

To Can Tomato Puree

  1. Bring a large canning kettle full of water to a boil.

    Jars with lids next to a dutch oven filled with water
    The Spruce
  2. Sterilize the pint jars by boiling them for 10 minutes.

    Jars in a water bath
     The Spruce
  3. Allow the jars to air dry.

    Jars drying on a cutting board
     The Spruce
  4. Soften the lids by simmering them for a few minutes.

    Lids in a pot of water
     The Spruce
  5. Put 1/4 teaspoon citric acid or 1 tablespoon lemon juice in each pint jar.

    A lemon sitting next to the empty jars
     The Spruce
  6. Return the puree to the stove and bring back to a simmer.

    Tomato puree in a pot next to the jars
     The Spruce
  7. Fill each jar with the hot tomato puree, leaving about 1/2-inch headspace at the top of each jar.

    Jars filled with tomato puree
     The Spruce
  8. Set the lids on the jars and secure them with the rings.

    Tomato puree in jars topped with lids
     The Spruce
  9. Lower the jars into the canning kettle and boil for 40 minutes. The jars should be covered by at least 1-inch of water.

    Jars of tomato puree in a pot of water
     The Spruce
  10. Remove the jars and let cool.

    Tomato puree in jars
     The Spruce

Tip

  • When recipes call for lemon juice, it is encouraged that you use freshly squeezed. Canning tomatoes, however, is one of the only times you should use bottled lemon juice as you want its reliable acid level.
  • If canning, make sure you give yourself about an hour for this process.

How to Use

Homemade tomato puree can be cooked down to make a thicker tomato paste. The puree is also used as a base in condiments such as salsa, barbecue sauce, and hot sauce, and an ideal option when you need a thinner marinara or pizza sauce. Conversely, tomato puree is used to thicken soups such as minestrone or stews like cioppino (fisherman's stew). You can even use it as a tomato juice substitute in bloody marys.

Is Tomato Sauce the Same as Tomato Puree?

The major difference between tomato sauce and tomato puree is seasoning. Tomato sauce is typically seasoned with salt, oregano, garlic, and even sugar. Bottled, pasta-ready tomato sauces tend to be thicker and have a variety of ingredients. A tomato puree generally only contains tomato; if canned, a small amount of citric acid or lemon juice is added.

Are Crushed Tomatoes a Good Substitute for Tomato Purée?

Crushed tomatoes will add a chunkier texture to dishes than tomato puree. For a smoother texture, blend crushed tomatoes to make a quick tomato puree.