We love to make our own tomato paste for our homemade pizza sauce. It is easy and takes our sauce to another level. Making homemade tomato paste doesn’t require expert culinary skills, but it does require some time and a whole bunch of ripe tomatoes.
Since tomato season is right around the corner, we thought we would share how we make homemade tomato paste. So if you grow your own tomatoes, have a pizza garden, or get fresh tomatoes from your local farmers market, here is a great way to use them.
What is Tomato Paste?
Tomato paste is a thick tomato sauce that has been cooked down and concentrated. You have probably seen the little cans of it in the supermarket.
It is a great canned or jarred pantry staple and can be used in many different ways, including for, you guessed it, homemade pizza sauce.
Why Use Tomato Paste in Your Pizza Sauce?
Ok, so making homemade tomato paste is easy, but it does take some time. Luckily, that time is mostly hands-free. You just need to keep checking on it periodically, but you don’t need to be stuck in the kitchen all day tending a big boiling pot.
We like to make it on a day that we know we will be home and can keep an eye on it without taking all of our attention from other home activities like listening to pizza podcasts or reading our favorite books about pizza.
You will want to make your own tomato paste once you realize how adding this deep red concentrated paste adds a special something to your homemade pizza sauce.
It really is worth the effort for the depth of flavor it will give your sauce. The best thing about this recipe is you can make a big batch of tomato paste to use whenever you need it.
Best Tomatoes to Use for Homemade Tomato Paste
While you can use just about any type of tomatoes for homemade tomato paste, the best tomatoes to use are Romas. Roma tomatoes have less water and make the whole process that much easier.
How to Make Homemade Tomato Paste
There are two methods you can use to make homemade tomato paste, one is on the stove, and the other is in a slow cooker (aka crock pot). We prefer the slow cooker because it is more hands-off, making it a bit easier. However, it’s not completely hands-free. You still need to check it and stir it. We will cover both methods.
You will need:
- Slow cooker or saucepan
- 10 pounds of Roma tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons of salt
- Glass jars for storage or ice cube trays for freezing
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil for cooking and extra for storage
- 2 large baking sheets
- Food mill or strainer
- Silicone spatula
Prep Your Tomatoes
First, you need to wash your tomatoes and roughly chop them. Then run them through the blender. Next, use the food mill or strainer to remove seeds and skins. Some home chefs leave seeds and skins on, but we found them to make the tomato paste too bitter.
Cook Them Down
Ok, so now you can either put the tomato sauce in a slow cooker on low or on the stovetop in a saucepan. We like the slow cooker because the risk of burning it on the stovetop is higher. Either way, you cook the sauce down.
Make sure to cook it uncovered and use a silicone spatula (no metal) to scrape up the bottom and sides. The purpose is to cook it down and remove all of the moisture. This can take several hours.
We usually put a timer and check it periodically or make tomato paste when we have another kitchen project going on and can keep an eye on it.
At this step, you can add salt and any other seasonings. We prefer simple tomato paste since we use it with other recipes, but some home chefs do add seasonings. We keep it simple with just salt.
Once the tomato sauce is reduced and much thicker, you need to spread it out on a baking sheet and bake in the oven on 300 F for 30 minutes. Check it every ten minutes and give it a stir. After thirty minutes, lower the temp to 250 F, and put it back for another 30 minutes.
Traditionally, in southern Italy, this step used to be done in the sun. Italian nonnas would lay the trays out in the hot Mediterranean sun to bake, bringing them in at night. It would take several days to get all of the moisture out, and the tomato paste would be sun-kissed to tangy perfection.
If you want to try, the temperature needs to be consistently at or over 100º F. We don’t get temperatures like that where we live, so we haven’t tried this method.
How to Store
Once your homemade tomato paste is done baking, let it cool. Next, put it in glass jars making sure to push the sauce down and leave some room at the top.
Cover the top in olive oil and store it with an air-tight lid. As you use it, add more olive oil, so it is always covered. It will stay good in the refrigerator for one year.
You can also freeze it in ice cube trays and take out frozen tomato paste cubes whenever you need to use them.
Other Ways to Use Homemade Tomato Paste
Homemade tomato paste is a versatile staple that you should always have on hand. You can use it for all kinds of recipes. Besides homemade pizza sauce, we often use it for other things like:
It also makes a great gift. Last year, we got some cute little jars and made a big batch as gifts for friends and family. And they loved it!
How do you like to use homemade tomato paste?