Tomato paste, also referred to as tomato concentrate, is produced by cooking tomatoes for a long period of time with minimal liquid in order to produce a thick paste when strained. The concentrate can be used immediately, canned, or put into the freezer. This paste is often used as an ingredient in other tomato products, such as tomato sauce and ketchup. Retailers sell it primarily in cans, but it is also available in tubes.
Although it originated in Italy, tomato paste is a popular food ingredient all over the world. For example, in Western countries, it is most commonly used to make ketchup and tomato sauce. In some Eastern countries, it's sometimes added to curry or stew to flavor meats, and it is then eaten with rice. There are many ways to include tomato paste in meals, such as in sautéed vegetables or pizza.
There are two major differences between tomato paste and tomato sauce. The former is often made using just tomatoes and salt, while tomato sauce usually has other ingredients added to it for flavor. Tomato paste is also much thicker and more concentrated than tomato sauce, and is often added to sauce as a thickener. Tomato puree is sometimes used interchangeably with tomato paste in some countries, but whether it is really tomato paste depends on how thick it is.
Making homemade tomato paste is easy to do, and it is often preferred in taste and thickness to store bought. The ingredients are tomatoes of any variety, although ripe and seedless tomatoes often work the best, and salt to season to taste. Some cooks like to add sugar, but that is not necessary.
The tomatoes should be peeled and the seeds removed. The tomatoes and salt are then added to a pot and cooked for one hour. The mixture is then put through a sieve or processed through a food mill or food processor. The mixture is returned to the pot and cooked until it reaches the desired thickness.
Tomato paste does not stay fresh for long. It will usually last in the refrigerator for several days, but then will begin to spoil and can grow mold. One tactic is to freeze small, pre-measured amounts to be used later. although this often only guarantees a few weeks before it becomes unusable. Homemade tomato paste is best canned in small amounts to prevent waste. Commercial cans are also available in small sizes.