COOKING: How to Make Tomato Paste and Freeze It (Video)

How many times would you throw away a can of tomato paste after using only a tablespoonful for a recipe? I recently have been freezing leftovers by the tablespoonfuls. I was overwhelmed with a late tomato harvest of which I had to ripen on my counter. That means that the tomatoes won't be as sweet as being ripened on the vine. So I decided to make a large vat of tomato paste and freeze it up in ice cube trays. 

You supplement the tomatoes with a healthy dose of sweet vegetables, herbs and spices-thus not minding the lack of vine-ripened sweetness in these late-season tomatoes. Each square equals a tablespoonful, what is often needed in stews and soups.

Fair warning, this takes a bit of time. You can tell in my video-I did a stage each evening after work and dinner. Little by little, throughout the week, I ended up with a nice batch of tomato paste for the winter. You will also notice that you start out with a lot of tomatoes-and you get back 1 1/4 full of an ice cube tray full (not a ton). The good news is, you usually don't need much to accent a dish. These tablespoons of tomato paste pack a punch! Simply transfer frozen cubes from the trays into a freezer-safe plastic bag and label! You will be all set for 6 months to 1 year!

Make your Own Tomato Paste
1 carrot, chopped
16 cups ripe tomatoes, quartered
1 large celery stalk, chopped
1 medium chopped onion
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
1/2 Tbsp. dried basil
1/2 Tbsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. black peppercorns
12 whole cloves
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 2" stick cinnamon
4-5 garlic cloves, minced

Simmer tomatoes in a large stock pot on a medium simmer with all the ingredients until soft and married about 2 hours.

Process through a food mill. Return milled tomatoes to the pot and simmer on medium low heat for another 2 hours, stirring often to prevent burning. You want it reduced by half.

Preheat oven to 200˚. Line an old baking sheet with tin foil.

Spread paste on the prepared baking sheet to the depth of 1/2". Make short cuts or "slits" with a dull knife into the paste to let the air penetrate. Place the sheet  in the 200˚ oven to dry out for bout 2 hours.

Spoon paste in ice cube trays and freeze overnight. Transfer cubes into freezer-safe plastic bags, label and date, and store in the freezer for 6-12 months.

Below is a step by step how-to. I look pretty tired in this video because I made time for this project after long work days and dinner dishes throughout the week! #dedication! If you have a lazy, open Sunday, you can do this in one day. I just haven't had that luxury this fall! It's been a bit busy at our house lately.



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