This summer I decided to try my hand at doing some canning. I found a local gardener/small time farmer that was selling tomatoes for a good price and they were delicious tomatoes! So cumulatively I ended up buying 80 pounds of tomatoes :o! I had a recipe for salsa from a lady at church, got a pizza sauce recipe from my parents and found a clamato juice recipe from a canning group on Facebook. Even with all of this, I still had plenty of tomatoes I needed to do something with.
I got to thinking – what is tomato based that I use frequently? Tomato Paste! (red glue, get it? ;)) But it always annoys me so much that a recipe will call for like 2 Tbsp and then I opened this whole can for that – what do I do with the rest?! So I set out to find a way to make some tomato paste and way to store it that made more sense.
My mom said she wouldn’t ever attempt tomato paste again because it was “so annoying” to process. I wanted to prove her wrong, while solving my problem at the same time. So I set out to find a solution. I ended up finding the easiest thing EVER! I put the tomatoes in my stock pot and let them cook and cook and cook until I could mash the tomatoes. Then I put them in my Pampered Chef colander (it has smaller holes) and pushed the mush through – keeping the skins and seeds in the colander. I’m now left with a TON of tomato sauce – I could stop here, but paste is my ultimate goal and paste is just a more concentrated sauce – thus if I have paste, I can add water to create sauce :). The more you know! So I found a recipe that has you make a layer of tomato sauce on a baking sheet – I did 2 at once – not too thick not too thin of a layer. Then place the sheet in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, stir the sauce/paste, and continue to cook for another 30 minutes. After this – I’m left with beautiful tomato sauce! But here is where the real brilliance came into play – I put the sauce into ice cube trays in 1 Tbsp portions and froze them, once frozen, I put in a gallon bag that I labeled and stored in the freezer. I have used them PLENTY since then and am sooooo happy I can pull out just what I need and not feel wasteful – plus, I know where the tomatoes came from and what’s in my paste. A win-win in my book!
What’s something that bothers you in the kitchen – cooking, baking, storage, etc? Have you ever made tomato paste and/or stored it in the freezer?