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What is Tomato Puree?

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  • Written By: Kasey James
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2016
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Tomato puree is a thick liquid made from cooked and strained tomatoes. The puree is made from whole tomatoes and generally does not include added water. The tomatoes used for puree are usually cooked for a short amount of time. It can be made from scratch or bought off the shelf at the supermarket and is used in many tomato-based dishes around the world.

Tomato puree often gets confused with other processed foods such as tomato paste or sauce. The difference between tomato paste or sauce and puree is the added ingredients and consistency. Tomato sauce is usually thinner than puree and has spices and other vegetables added to create a ready-to-use blend. Tomato paste can be thick puree, but the tomatoes are cooked for a much longer period of time before being crushed.

Even though there are differences in the various tomato products, tomato puree, sauce and paste can sometimes be substituted for each other. Some recipes will use the word puree and sauce alternately. Other dishes specifically call for puree for its own unique qualities.

This thick tomato product can be made using fresh tomatoes or may be used from a can. Homemade puree is usually made from slow-cooked, crushed tomatoes and then canned or jarred by hand. Puree from the store is usually canned from a tomato products manufacturer. There are several tomato product companies, giving consumers many brand choices.

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A tomato-milling machine can be used in the process of making homemade tomato puree. Some of these machines strain the tomatoes using a hand crank to press the juice and pulp out of the tomato. Other machines are electric and strain the tomatoes with the touch of a button. Either machine is designed to help make homemade tomato puree a quick and easy process.

Puree and other tomato products can be an added healthy choice to a balanced diet. Tomatoes contain many needed vitamins and are low in cholesterol and saturated fats. Homemade puree is often the healthier choice, as some canned products may contain added sugar or salt.

Many dishes use tomato puree either as a base or as an added ingredient. Soups and sauces often use puree as a base for taste and thickness. Other dishes including casseroles, meats and vegetables use puree for its pleasant taste and texture. Tomato-based products such as puree and sauce are cooked and used many ways in different countries.

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aLFredo
Post 14

@tolleranza - I feel the same way about tomatoes! I have not gone so far to make my own tomato puree but I have a tomato puree favorite - its simple but it is so good, and it makes a difference if you make the recipe yourself versus buying it at the store...

Tomato soup!

I mean, what is better than tomato soup and grilled cheese with some exotic cheese like gouda on a cold day?

If you don't have the time to make the tomato soup, Trader Joes one of my favorite grocery stores has an awesome Tomato soup (but don't try the low sodium version, I like to eat healthy, but in this particular case the sodium is worth it)!

tolleranza
Post 13

One of my favorite Italian dishes is eggplant parmigiana and the tomato puree or sauce that you use and how much you use really makes a tasty difference.

Eggplant can be thick and meaty so, in my opinion you have to have enough sauce to compliment it but not overwhelm it.

We use tomato puree sometimes and sometimes we use tomato sauce, but either way we add spices and fresh tomatoes to the mixture. Some of the spices we use are oregano (of course), sea salt, and garlic (if we don't have fresh garlic on hand).

What other recipes use tomato puree? I love tomatoes and am always trying to find other ways to use tomatoes!

mabeT
Post 12

I tried to make my own canned tomatoes and canned tomato puree, and it was an absolute disaster!

I lightly steamed the tomatoes and peeled off the skins. Then, I crushed them and put them into the jars. I was told to add a spoonful of oil and sugar to help them set, and then to boil the jars until the lids sealed.

After that, I took the jars carefully from the water and placed them upside down on a dishtowel for a whole night and morning.

Okay, so I did all of that and my jars of tomatoes were absolutely gorgeous and beautiful! Until about two weeks later where I smelled alcohol in my pantry.

We don’t drink, so I looked and looked and looked for the source, and finally my eyes fell upon my tomato puree. That, undoubtedly was the source and when I opened the lid the smell of fermented tomatoes almost knocked me out.

Over the next month or so every one of my jars did the same thing.

How do I stop this catastrophe from happening again? Right now, I’m just freezing them instead.

nanny3
Post 11

Tomato puree is a staple in my cabinet, and I use it for practically everything. Okay, maybe not everything but a lot of stuff none the less.

For instance, I find that adding a tomato puree to a stew helps to thicken the broth while adding an extra element to the taste.

Naturally, I use it in spaghetti and lasagna as well. Homemade vegetable soup is another big one. And chili; the list can go on for miles!

Also, for those southerners out there, grits or white rice with tomato puree and shredded mozzarella cheese on top is absolutely delectable.

cloudel
Post 10

Beef fajitas are great when cooked with tomato puree. I used to use tomato sauce until I discovered how much more I like puree.

I generally cook the beef on its own until it turns somewhat brown. Then, I add the tomato puree, which I can make days in advance and refrigerate. I throw in some chopped onions and sprinkle cumin over everything to give it that nice fajita flavor.

Once it’s done, I spritz it with some lime juice, wrap the beef in a flour tortilla, and enjoy it with a side of tortilla chips. My husband puts sour cream and grated cheddar on his, but for me, the taste of tomato puree is best enjoyed purely.

StarJo
Post 9

I use tomato puree on my spaghetti instead of the typical canned sauce. I don’t really like ground up meat on top of my pasta, and with tomato puree, I don’t have to have it.

I know that you can buy spaghetti sauces that don’t contain meat, but they just aren’t as pure as homemade puree. They often contain too much sodium for my taste, so I make my own.

If I do get in the mood for meat, I prefer to cook some bacon and cut it in small strips. I sprinkle it across the cooked noodles before coating the whole thing with tomato puree.

Perdido
Post 8

Tomato puree is one of the most noticeable ingredients in my minestrone soup. It gives it color as well as its basic taste.

This soup also contains celery, pasta, carrots, onion, pinto beans, corn, and several herbs and spices. The first thing people notice about it is its red color. The tomato puree soaks up the flavor of the spices very well.

I like to serve saltines with my minestrone. The acidity of the tomato puree is toned down a bit by the crackers. Some people prefer to eat the soup with cornbread, but the effect is basically the same.

seag47
Post 7

I greatly prefer the taste and texture of tomato puree to tomato sauce. It is so close to that of natural tomatoes. I use it in many dishes for good flavor.

My favorite is chicken creole. The tomato puree serves as a simmering medium for the chicken. It boils and bubbles around the meat and heats the bay leaf and other herbs, bringing out the intensity of their flavors.

An added bonus is that you get to dip toasted bread into the tomato puree after the dish is done. The puree will then possess the flavors of every other ingredient as well as its own, and these seasonings will permeate the bread for ultimate deliciousness.

MissCourt
Post 6

@Calvin77 - I've never managed to can my own stuff, but my aunts always give me a few cans for Christmas. I use the tomato in all of my chili recipes -- it's delicious!

Every year, they get together with all of their friends and spend a few days canning. They mostly can jams and pickles -- but I always make sure they can some tomatoes too.

No one in my family has ever gotten sick from homemade canned food. It never even occurred to me that there might be botulism -- it hasn't been a issue in my family either and we eat tons of canned food.

Calvin77
Post 5

@KaBoom - My parents wanted to be homesteaders, so they have always canned their own food. Beans, tomatoes, pickles, jam and lots of other things. So far, they have never encounters botulism or any other problem. As long as you know how to can properly, you shouldn't have any problem either.

Store bought goods all tend to be salty and some can be really expensive. If you have the space or the time, growing and canning your own food is definitely worth the effort. I do a lot of my own canning now and it all tastes great. You should at least make your own tomato puree once – all you need is a afternoon and a blender!

KaBoom
Post 4

@Azuza - I've heard that about canning before. To be honest, I've always kind of wanted to try it but the possibility of botulism scared me off. Maybe one of these days I'll be courageous enough to try it.

Until then, store bought tomato puree works fine for me. I like to use it when I make slow cooked chicken. I usually some spices like basil in as well, and when I'm done I sprinkle a little bit of mozzarella cheese over the dish. Yummy!

Azuza
Post 3

One of my aunts is really into making and canning her own homemade stuff. She makes tomato puree pretty frequently and I think it's definitely better than the store bought kind.

However, she has told me that you have to be really careful about food safety when you're canning at home. Apparently if you don't follow the directions you can end up with a serious case of botulism! My aunt is always really careful when she cans things and no one in our family has ever had a problem.

lonelygod
Post 2

@manykitties2 - It is too bad you were turned off of store bought tomato puree. I have always found buying cans to be much better than making the puree myself. I just can't be bothered to prepare the tomatoes myself and haul out the blender. Seems like way too much work for something that is available so cheaply in store.

I suppose if you want completely organic doing it yourself is the way to go. I personally think it may have just been the brand you were buying that gave you the unpleasant salty aftertaste. I have had that happen before and it was certainly an isolated incident.

manykitties2
Post 1

If you have a chance making your own tomato puree can be really easy and it makes for a delicious additive in your spaghetti sauce recipes.

I used to buy tomato puree in the store but always found that it tasted a bit salty for my liking, so I set out for myself to see if I could make it without that salty aftertaste. I ended up buying some gorgeous organic tomatoes and followed some simple instructions for puree online. My tomato puree turned our great, and I am happy to say, there is no strange aftertaste.

I have also experimented with adding spices to the puree to use in various dishes and it has been going really well. I really don't see any reason why you buy tomato puree, it's so easy to make!

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