Tomatoes are an essential vegetable for soups and salads. They feature in almost every meal and constitute a large portion of vegan diets. But the ripe tomato fruit is a perishable item with a very short shelf-life if exposed – raising the need for preservation.
Tomatoes are usually ground to make a paste or puree which can be preserved for future needs. However, everyone needs to know how to preserve tomato paste for improved food security and elimination of food wastage.
Needless to add that preservation of tomato paste on a significant scale is a business opportunity that could be explored. The industrial capability to prepare quality tomato fruits for long-term packaging and storage could create a sustainable stream of income for the foreseeable future. It could become the basis of a sustainable startup company that will serve national and regional markets with standardized tomato puree made for household uses.
Ways to Preserve Tomato Paste
But for starters, let us examine how to preserve tomato paste for immediate and future use. The business part of the enterprise will be analyzed in another related post.
Tomato preservation begins right after they are harvested on the farm. Once they are brought home, they must be washed to remove sands and impurities. The tomatoes must then be blended thoroughly to make a thick paste. The paste should thereafter be poured onto a large pot and cooked on low heat.
Allow the tomato paste to boil for up to 15 minutes before taking it down. You can then pour the cooked paste through a sieve or strainer to process it into a puree that is purer with more consistency. You can then pour the thick puree into airtight containers with a lid and have them kept in your freezer.
They must remain in your freezer for as long as you want so long the freezer is not unplugged from electricity. There you have your tomato paste preserved for future use. But there is yet another method.
Having gone through the first method to the point of boiling the tomato paste, you may allow the paste to cook for up to 25 minutes until it solidifies with the water completely evaporated. At this point, the bottom of the pot may even be getting burnt. Set down your pot and allow the cooked tomato paste to cool.
Then scoop it into airtight jars with lids, and pour fresh cooking oil in the jar to completely cover the tomato paste. Cover tightly and store away from direct sunlight in a cool place. Your preserved tomato paste could last for one year in this way so long the oil covers the cooked paste in the airtight lidded jar. And yet there’s another method.
This third method is only an improvement on the first two methods for preserving tomato puree. Having cooked your blended tomato into a very thick state, you must pour the paste into tight jars (such as that used for jam or mayonnaise) with lids. Instead of pouring cooking oil on it like in the second method, you place the filled and covered tomato jars into a pot filled with water.
You must set the pot on fire with the containers of airtight tomato paste. It is best to have the jars covered completely with water before you set the fire to the pot. Allow it to cook for up to 15-20 minutes before setting down the pot to remove the thoroughly cooked tomato paste. You can store the jars in an empty carton stacked away in a cool, unlit place; or you could just place them inside the refrigerator even though this is very unnecessary.
Please note that tomatoes to be blended into a paste and preserved for future use must be cherry-picked; not damaged and rotten tomatoes. Using damaged and rotten tomatoes will create an unpleasant taste when the paste is reused again after storage. So it is best to use healthy and very fresh tomatoes harvested directly from the farm or purchased at a fresh produce grocery store.
The above are natural and cheap ways to preserve tomato puree using traditional methods in the home.
Another Smart Way to Preserver Tomato Paste
There is always another way to get things done, and the same applies to preserving tomato paste for future use. Do you know you can manufacture tomato paste cubes in your house and make them last up to nine months? Well, let’s find out how.
After the blended tomato concentrate has been cooked into the semi-solid state, scoop the paste into ice-cube trays and then place them into the freezer. The paste will become very frozen and take on the cube shape of the ice tray; you only need to keep it frozen and then make use of the tomato cubes if you want to make soups, stews, chili, gravies, and rice.
If you still remain business-minded, do you know you can package and market your cubed tomato paste in your neighborhood and city? Okay, hold the thought. We’ll go deeper into that in another article.
Preserving tomato paste is pretty straightforward given that the vegetable is very basic. You only need to experiment with various methods of preservation to get going. But here is a tip you might want to consider: do you know you can season your tomato paste with various condiments before preserving it? Yes, you can add seasonings, condiments, and food flavors to it to further improve its taste when it is used.
If you processed the cooked tomato paste through a strainer to yield a purer and more consistent puree, you can preserve it in a bottle after adding necessary seasonings – just like Heinz tomato ketchup. You could label your homemade ketchup bottles to indicate those that contain particular ingredients or seasonings and suitable for certain types of meals. Make sure you keep the bottles tightly cocked and kept away from direct sunlight.
There you have it, the ultimate guide on how to preserve tomato paste at home; and with the potentials to become a sustainable business.