7/20/12

Easy Homemade Tomato Paste

 Simple ingredients, quick procedure, easy storage, and delicious! I thought it was so cool to make my own tomato paste when I found this recipe online. I followed the instructions exactly, although I am not sure about the necessity of the final low-temperature baking step. I had such wonderful results, that I quickly applied the same method to creating a fabulous marinara sauce recipe (below).


TOMATO PASTE
(makes 1/2 cup)
  • 1 lb. fresh ripe tomatoes (about 3-4)
  • 1/4 sweet bell pepper (green or red)
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
Core and quarter the tomatoes. Process all ingredients in a blender until smooth. (My Vitamix super-blender works great for this, pulverizing all the tomato seeds and skin.) Pour the liquid into a 3-qt. saucepan and bring to a boil. From the blender adding lots of air, the mix will be foamy and the foam will rise in the pot, so be prepared to stir and/or reduce the heat slightly. Let it boil for 8 minutes - halfway through the foaming will disappear.

Pour the mixture into a mesh cloth jelly bag, or line a strainer with coffee filters, and place over a bowl to collect the liquid. Strain for 30 minutes. (You can reserve the strained off liquid for soup stock or for a flavorful liquid for cooking rice.) Spoon the thick paste into a heat-proof mason jar and bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 250°. Remove from the oven and cool. Smooth the top surface with a spatula, then pour a skin of olive oil to coat the top of the tomato paste, cap the jar, and store in the refrigerator. As you use the tomato paste, recover the top with a glaze of oil and it will keep for months. Alternately, you could freeze dollops in ice cube trays, then pop them out and bag them, having them available to thaw whenever the need arises. NOTE: I doubled this recipe and the results were perfection!

I think you could use this as a basis for homemade catsup (ketchup) too, just adding a little vinegar and sweetener, maybe some dry mustard or ground cinnamon - I'll try it myself next time I grill fresh marinated whole okra!

=========

I've made homemade tomato sauce many times, chopping ingredients by hand or processing loads of tomatoes in my ROMA food strainer, or chopping everything in my Vitamix then low cooking it for hours to thicken the sauce. After making the tomato paste recipe above, I experimented and made the recipe below. So much faster and easier than any I've ever made before.

THICK DELICIOUS MARINARA SAUCE
makes about 1 quart
  • 5 lb. fresh ripe tomatoes (12-15), cored and cut in quarters
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 sweet pepper, stem and seeds removed
  • 2 t salt
  • 2 t fennel seeds
  • 2 t dry marjoram or oregano
  • 1 t black pepper
  • 1/4 c chopped fresh basil
Process all the ingredients in a super blender, like a VItamix, in 3 batches so you don't overfill the blender and end up with a tomato mess when the top blows off! The Vitamix will pulverize everything, making a foamy, smooth pinkish liquid.

Pour all the processed ingredients into a tall cooking pot. and bring to a boil. It will be foamy and the foam will rise in the pot, so be prepared to stir and/or reduce the heat slightly. Let it boil for 8 minutes - halfway through the foaming will disappear.

Pour the mixture into a mesh cloth jelly bag, or line a strainer with coffee filters, and place over a bowl to collect the liquid. Strain for 30 minutes. (You can reserve the strained off liquid for soup stock or for a flavorful liquid for cooking rice.)

I like it as thick as possible, and used the contents of the mesh bag for my sauce, but you might want to stir back some of the drained liquid to create the sauce consistency you prefer.

Try these recipes now while garden fresh tomatoes are available. Freeze well, so you can enjoy them all year 'round