How to Make and Can Tomato Paste

How to Make and Can Tomato Paste

Summer is winding down to an end, but that doesn't mean the end of tomatoes here at our farm! Oh boy. The Romas are still coming in strong. So much for me worrying about blossom end rot at the beginning of this season! We've gotten a point where we had to buy a second storage freezer (three times the size of our first one) and have just basically been coring and freezing tomatoes for me to can later. I cannot keep up! But at least now the crates stock piled with maters have left the kitchen. Less fruit flies! Less stress! 

So since I have been canning tomatoes like crazy, there is lots of room left open for experimentation. I decided to try making tomato paste. It is so much easier than I thought. The hardest part is waiting because it can take a really long time. I honestly recommend you consider using a crockpot instead of the stovetop because you could potentially be cooking tomatoes for 2-4 hours. Yikes! There was also not much information on how many tomatoes you needed in pounds. I was really starting to get frustrated because even the Ball Canning Book only says, "use 50 large plum tomatoes." Well, what exactly is large to you?! What was supposed to make nine jars of tomato paste from 50 tomatoes only made two jars for me. So I adjusted and found something that worked. I hope that it works for you, too!

Ingredients + Recipe |

Makes 8 to 9 half pint jars

  • 8 quarts paste tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • bottle lemon juice
  1. Core tomatoes and slice them into quarters. Measure out 8 quarts worth (32 cups) and set aside.
  2. In a large stockpot, begin by filling it with 2 cups of tomatoes over medium-high heat. With a potato masher, smash down the tomatoes until their juices are fully released. Bring to a boil. Do this in batches until all of the tomatoes have been crushed in the pot. Add the bell pepper.
  3. Bring to a low boil (or heavy simmer) until the tomatoes have softened, about 40 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. In batches, run the tomatoes through a fine mesh sieve or food mill to remove the skins/seeds and collect the juices. Discard the skins and seeds.
  5. Return the juices to your stockpot. Add the salt, bay leaves, and garlic. Bring to a boil and simmer until the tomatoes mound up on a spoon (sit in a pile on the spoon without falling off), about 1-2 hours (sometimes more!). 
  6. Watch carefully as the paste thickens. You will want to, at some point, prepare your hot water bath canner. Heat your jars and lids in simmering water.
  7. Remove the jars from the hot water bath and fill with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Fill with paste with 1/4 inch headspace.
  8. Secure the lids and process 45 minutes. Turn off heat, remove the canner lid, and let the jars sit in the water for 5 minutes before removing.
  9. Check the seals in 12 to 24 hours. Store for up to a year!

I use tomato paste for a number of things but mostly for making soups, stews, and sauces in the winter. Here I come, Lasagna Soup! What do you use tomato paste for? Did you get creative with your tomato preserves this year? One of my Master Gardener friends made tomato jam and let us try some; it was actually really delicious! I may have to borrow that recipe from her.

I hope you are having a great end to your summer and enjoying a little taste of fall!

xoxo Kayla


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