I'm really behind in posting because I've been making A LOT OF STUFF. I made this homemade tomato paste a couple weeks ago and am just getting around to telling you about it.
So. I've been canning. I even bought a legit canning pot & kit.
While making the Habanero Hot Sauce, I decided to also make some tomato paste out of 5 lbs of roma tomatoes. To do this, I borrowed my friend's tomato press - something I have never used before in my life.
It was a long, tedious process. I halved the recipe because that's how many tomatoes I had to work with. I panicked because when you first put the "pulp" on the pan, it is completely liquid. Just totally liquid. But it cooks down and becomes the tomato paste we all know and love. It genuinely makes me appreciate the tiny 6 ounce cans from the store. So much work goes into it! Needless to say, I burned the shit out of the pan and had to throw it away when I was done. And my kitchen was a mess.
BUT I SUCCEEDED! It didn't make nearly as much as I'd hoped. It half-filled a tiny jelly jar. Whatever. Good enough. I slapped a label on it and stuck in the pantry, along with the hot sauce and all the other stuff I've canned recently.
I wouldn't go through the process of making this again, but I'm glad I did. I learned a lot, I tried something new, and I made good use of an abundance of roma tomatoes.
Homemade Tomato Paste
10 pounds tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon citric acid
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Chop tomatoes into quarters.
Simmer the tomatoes with the olive oil: Combine the chopped tomatoes and olive oil in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Cook until the tomatoes are soft and the peels begin to detach from the tomato flesh.
Pass the tomatoes through a food mill: Push the warm tomatoes through a food mill, sieve or chinois to separate the tomato pulp from the seeds and skins. Stir the sea salt and citric acid into the pulp. Discard or compost the seeds and skins.
Divide the tomato pulp between two large, rimmed baking sheets. You can also use a large roasting pan, but it will take longer to cook down that way.
Bake the tomato pulp until reduced to a paste: Place the baking sheets in the oven. Check the tomatoes every half hour, stirring the paste and switching the position of the baking sheets so that they reduce evenly. Over time, the paste will start to reduce to the point where it doesn't fill the baking sheet any more. At this point, combine the contents of the two pans into and continue to bake.
The paste is done when shiny and brick-colored, and it has reduced by more than half (3 to 4 hours). There shouldn't be any remaining water or moisture separating from the paste at this point. This will take 3 to 4 hours, though exact baking times will depend on the juiciness of your tomatoes.
Divide finished paste into 4-ounce jars, leaving 3/4 inch headspace.
Preserving Option 1 - Process the tomato paste in a hot water bath: Apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
Preserving Option 2 - Refrigerate or Freeze: If you don't want to process the paste, you can refrigerate or freeze it instead. Scrape finished paste into clean half or quarter pint jars. Top each jar with a layer of olive oil and place in either the refrigerator or the freezer. As long as you keep it well-covered with olive oil and ensure that you only use a very clean spoon to remove it from the jar, it will keep in the fridge for 3 to 4 weeks. Frozen, it will keep for up to nine months.