There are a ton of dishes that heavily rely on tomato paste for flavor. The intense and concentrated sour taste of the tomato paste is what enhances dishes like ragu, spaghetti bolognese, and Spanish rice.
Hence, if you’re versatile in your cooking, having a tomato paste in your cupboard is crucial. But what happens if your run out? What’s a good substitute for tomato paste? Does the flavor change? We’ll be helping you answer these questions!
What You Need to Know about Tomato Pastes
Tomatoes have long been experimented upon by many food and agricultural experts. Some have pickled tomatoes while some have added preservatives to it.
This essential fruit is in-demand all over the world, which is why you need to have a kind of tomato product in more ways than one.
Tomato pastes, for example, are a product of liquid reduction. Tomato pastes usually start with whole tomatoes being put to a blitz in a food processor.
Afterward, it undergoes reduction to remove the liquid in the tomatoes. This process not only removes the liquid, but it also takes out the skins and seeds.
Thus, you’re left with a thick and concentrated tomato paste that’s a result of continuous straining and reducing. Remember, a tomato puree is a different version. This product is usually the opposite of a paste since it uses more liquid to give it a looser consistency.
However, in the United Kingdom, tomato puree is considered the same as tomato paste.
What’s the flavor of tomato paste?
Since tomato pastes are concentrated, you won’t get the same sweetness out of a fresh tomato or in tomato sauces.
This is because the primary role of a tomato paste in a dish is to give a strong tomato flavor. This gives it the richness in dishes like spaghetti bolognese or Italian ragu.
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Hence, if you’re looking for a substitute, it has to be close to the rich flavor that the paste gives. It shouldn’t be too sweet, and it must be thick in consistency.
With that said, there are no products that can give off the same flavor as this. However, you can reinvent your other ingredients and imitate it through cooking. Another way is to make them yourself and stock batches in your fridge.
“Cooking” tomato paste: The most common substitute
Since tomato pastes used to be liquid, you can only cook out or reduce a tomato puree to imitate the flavor. Simple get a saucepan and heat it to medium to high heat. Make sure that the pan is dry.
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Once it’s heating up, get your spoon for measuring (and mixing). You’ll need to add your puree or sauce to the pan and reduce it. For your guide, you should remember that for one tablespoon of tomato paste, you’ll need three tablespoons of puree or sauce.
So if you need a tablespoon of puree, add three tablespoons of sauce and simmer it in the pan. Look at it carefully until the liquid reduces and you’re left with a tablespoon of thickened sauce.
Making your tomato paste
The method above is only a substitute, which means you won’t get the same level of richness from a real tomato paste.
However, if you want to take your cooking to the next level, you can make all-natural tomato paste in batches by yourself. This will give you the capability to store it for future consumption.
To start, get your fresh tomatoes. Peel its skin and top it off. Peeling a tomato skin is a lot easier if you roast it for a while in a hot oven.
Afterward, reduce its liquid by cooking it slowly in a pot. Add red peppers, onions, and basil leaves for added flavor in your paste.
After an hour, strain it through a sieve and cook it out again. Do this repeatedly until you get a thick consistency like that of commercial tomato pastes. For added flavor, you can add grated garlic after straining it once.
Wrapping it Up
Tomato paste is an essential ingredient that’s cheap and easy to find. It’s important always to check your fridge because you’ll never know when you need to make a scrumptious tomato-based sauce.
However, if you ever run out of it, the methods we showed will suffice.
Not to mention, the homemade tomato paste trick is delicious. It might sound quite daunting to do, but the results are worth it.
Not only would you cook large batches to store in jars, but you’ll also get a more natural and delicious flavor. So if you’re looking for a different tomato blend, try doing it yourself! Happy cooking!