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« Keith Floyd, R.I.P. | Main | My New Favorite Dish - Spaghetti with Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic, Pancetta »
Sunday
Sep202009

Make Your Own Tomato Paste - Estratto


Can you stand another tomato recipe?  I've been cooking a lot with tomatoes lately, but hey - everyone's got an excess of tomatoes right now.  Some friends dropped off some of their tomato excess the other night to us (thanks, Brian and Diane!) and that was fine with me.  What was I going to do with that many tomatoes?  I was going to make my own tomato paste.  

Why make your own tomato paste?  Besides simply being a great way to find a use for all those tomatoes, homemade tomato paste is just such a different thing than the store bought, canned type.  The flavor is so deep, so intense and concentrated, there really is no comparison.  With just a little effort, you can take pounds and pounds of tomatoes and turn them into a small amount of outstanding tomato paste.

In Sicily when the tomatoes come in, they make estratto - it literally means "extracted".  They take the tomatoes and extract the puree, salt it and then lay that out on a wooden table or board in the sun.  The puree is turned over and over with a spatula and spread out again until eventually the sun has removed all the moisture from the puree.  This can take about 2 days.  You are left with a thick, dark paste that is called estratto.  The estratto is then packed into jars, covered with oil and salt and placed in the refrigerator, where it can actually remain for up to a year.  You can buy it but then you're still left with all those tomatoes.

Since the Michigan sun is not comparable to the sun in Sicily, I made my tomato paste in the oven, replicating what the sun does - drying out the tomato puree slowly until the moisture was gone.  The result is an incredible tomato product that you won't believe.  In Sicily, they add a little of this to their soups, sauces or stews.  You can even spread some on a piece of bread or crostini, if you like.  It's so delicious you will be tempted to eat it with a spoon.  

The process is simple and not at all difficult. It just takes a long time in the oven. You will need a food mill in order to strain out the seeds and skin of the tomatoes.  You can use a sieve and a spoon, but a food mill will make the process so much faster because of the quantity of tomatoes you will be working with. 

Homemade Tomato Paste 

 

for a printable recipe, click here

Ingredients:

  • 6-7 pounds of tomatoes, chopped 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • kosher or sea salt

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  

Place the tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and bay leaves and two large pinches of sea salt in a large pot and cook, until tomatoes are softened, about 10 minutes.  Place a food mill over a large bowl.  Transfer contents of pot, in batches, to the food mill and extract the tomato puree by turning the handle of the food mill several times in one direction and then several times in the other direction.   Repeat, until all the skins and seeds has been removed from all the tomatoes.  

Lightly oil a baking sheet pan with olive oil.   Spread out tomato puree and place in oven.  Cook for about 2 hours and then turn over the puree with a spatula, spreading it out.  Return to oven.  Cook for another hour and turn puree over again.  Cook until the puree has turned into a paste and is very thick, maybe an hour more. 

Cool puree and store in a small glass jar in the refrigerator.  You can top it off with a little olive oil and sea salt if you like.  It will last for several months. 

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Reader Comments (44)

Wonderful post! I had no idea it was so easy to make tomato paste. BTW- Your new blog home is lovely!

September 20, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterredkathy

Oh this is fantastic! I, too, am quite happily drowning in tomatoes (thank you, garden), and have been wondering what to do with the last run of them. I'll have to try this!

September 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterErin @ One Particular Kitchen

Ciao Elaine! What a fab post! Can't wait to try this! Beautiful site you have!

September 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPaula - bell'alimento

Wonderful idea. I never even thought about making paste. Hey my information was saved, so that's cool.

September 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAngela@Spinachtiger

our garden just gave us about 12 lbs or more of tomatoes so this is great. can i use canning jars?
ps - i love the photo of you and your mom, i remember her.

September 20, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjude

Isn't it amazing how 6-7 pounds of tomatoes can reduce to less than a half-cup of tomato paste? Such amazing flavor though.... I agree. Great post!

September 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMags

Brilliant, we're drowing in tomatoes and already have jars and jars of passata. Going to give this tomato paste a try, sounds fabulous

September 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie Lane

From The Italian Dish:

Jude: You sure can use canning jars, though 12 pounds of tomatoes will probably yield about a cup of tomato paste. Thanks for remembering my mom!

September 21, 2009 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Elaine, your new blog is beautiful! Are you loving Squarespace?

I've never thought of making my own tomato paste, but it's an "Aha" moment! Beautiful photos.

September 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterElle

I'm swimming in tomatoes so think I am going to do this - the baking sheet looks like the tomato paste is a little burned onto the baking sheet. Is that a problem and any tips to prevent that?

September 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCooking with Michele

From The Italian Dish:

Michele: I think maybe I could have turned it over more often. I'm going to do that, the next batch I make. Good luck - you will love it.

September 22, 2009 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I'd love to try this. Sadly this year I hardly have any tomatoes, but saving your instructions for next year.

September 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKalyn

Thanks for the recipe and thanks to a friend who introduced me to your blog. I am a grandchild of Greek and Italian, living in northern California. As a Slow Food leader and chef, I am a huge advocate of cooking and eating at home, not to mention having a kitchen garden. I will add the estratto to my passato production, as the base puree recipe is nearly identical to the one I received from my grandmother. Also, your Easter bread looks very much like my grandfather's from Crete, on their is braided long like challah and the eggs are always red. Such a short cultural difference between the Mediterraneam islanders!

September 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJulia Kendrick Conway

From The ItalianDish:

Julia: Thanks and I loved reading about your food philosophy and family.

September 22, 2009 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I was just thinking this week about trying to make my own tomato paste for the first time, and then your post appeared in my blogher links this morning. I'm going to give this a try soon!

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn

Wow, Elaine! You made your own tomato paste! I should try this because I can't abide the stuff in the can. S

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterfood blogga

This sure beats out anything in a tube! You're amazing Elaine, and so is that vibrant color!

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMarie

Great post! We don't use a whole lot of tomato paste, but we *do* still have a whole lotta tomatoes ;)

Btw will you be participating in the 2nd Annual O Foods for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Contest at my blog and at Ms Adventures in Italy again this year? You have until Sept 28th to come up with a fab O recipe...and there are prizes including signed copies of Gina DePalma's Dolce Italiano and Mario Batali's Molto Italiano :D

If you can't participate, feel free to spread the word--there are prizes for that too!

September 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle | Bleeding Espresso

Lovely post, photos and fabulous advice on making home-made tomato paste....just like I make it at home that I learned from my iItalian family ancestors passed on to my mamma. What region of Italy are you from? Do you live in the States or in Italy? I'd love to hear from you, Roz (aka bella)

September 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRoz

I am always looking for alternatives to tinned tomato products, but I didn't realize making tomato paste was so simple. I will have to try this. The tip I wanted to share is something my mother discovered a few years ago. Instead of a food mill to remove the seeds and skins, my mother now uses a juicer! (She has a Jack Lalane one). It has literally doubled the amount of pulp in her juice. I would imagine this would also improve (slightly) the quanitity of paste if used for processing tomatoes for this purpose. It is also much easier for tired old hands. Thanks again for a great idea.

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

From The Italian Dish:

Rachel: Great idea with the juicer! I can totally see how that would work well. Thanks for the great tip!

April 2, 2010 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I just told my 92 year old mother I wanted to make tomato paste and she quickly told me how my Nonna made Estratto! I told her that's exactly what I want to make and showed her your blog. It brought back wonderful memories for her to share with me. I'll try my hand at estratto this week. Thanks for sharing.

August 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRose

Is there really three HEADS of garlic in this recipe? It sounds like too much, and I love garlic!

September 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

From The Italian Dish:

Anna: Wow, that is totally wrong. It is supposed to be three cloves of garlic. I always have this fear that I'm going to do that in a recipe - say "heads" instead of "cloves". Thank you for catching that. I changed it.

September 11, 2010 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Thanks Elaine. I used three (large) cloves. It's in the oven now. By the way, I had to spread the mixture over two baking sheets as the yield was too much for one. Plus I have my oven on convection bake to see if the fans help to concentrate it faster. I'll let you know how it turns out.

September 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

Elaine, I just made a double batch of this, and it is incredible!!! Thank you so much. I am always looking for something different and new to make with excess garden produce. Love your photos, too, by the way!

August 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

I skipped the food mill step and just pureed the mixture with a stick blender. Tastes fantastic!

August 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShylo

Can this paste be used as pizza sauce?

December 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTy Laney

From The Italian Dish:

Ty: I have never used tomato paste as a sauce for pizza - I think it would be way too thick. You can try it and see how you like it!

December 1, 2011 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Do you think this can be used for spaghetti sauce?

July 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMitchell

Holy cow! I followed this method today with just shy of 6lbs of Roma tomatoes. I'm a little lazy and in the past, I've made ketchup without bothering to separate out the skins and seeds -- I just whiz it all up instead.

Well I don't know if that's what made the difference, but rather than the "less than 1/2 cup" of paste, I ended up with nearly 3 whole cups! It 'baked' for over 4 hours in my convection oven, stirring about every hour (and more often in the final hour as it really started to darken and thicken). It is thick, it is rich, it is dark, it is sticky and gooey and bursting with flavour. So I don't think it's that I didn't let it reduce enough or anything like that.

Maybe it's a combination of the romas (which have less water and more meat than other varieties to begin with) and the using of the entire tomato? Whatever it was, it's a huge success here and oh so easy.

August 26, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterheather d

From The Italian Dish:

Heather: Way to go! Glad you ended up with so much yummy tomato paste. Impressive!

August 27, 2012 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

This is awesome. I have been making a roasted marinara sauce with cherry tomatoes, garlic, onions, olive oil, basil, thyme and a splash of balsamic vinegar. I simply roast them in the oven until soft then process in the blender to the right texture. I do leave the seeds and skins on, but for your recipe I put everything through a mesh strainer. It did not take as long for it to thicken as yours did, but man was it incredible. Thick, rich, fresh tomato flavor that is a deep red. I will be making this again, it is so easy and unbelievably good.

September 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterK

This looks so rich and I will make this. Thank you for the recipe.
Consider yourself hugged,
Simplee Sue

May 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersimplee sue

I was looking for red pepper paste and found this post. The color looks amazing. I am in the South so I can easily depend on 100-degree summer to do the ovens jobfor me :)
First time on your site, glad found it :)

May 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIlke

So glad I found your site. Really enjoy all the recipes and ideas. Made my second batch of tomato paste today. Put the tomatoes through my tomato squeezer so modified the recipe somewhat. Very good, tangy paste.

August 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMartha

This is the best recipe for Tomato Paste I have ever found. I made some a little while ago; 60 lbs of tomato's! That's right! I'm a little bit crazy when it comes to food storage. I didn't take the skins or the seeds off. I cooked everything in a pot until soft then blended it all up, poured it into trays, salted it and baked it in the oven until it turned into paste. I got about 30 cups from my 60 lbs. I used 30 lbs of Celebrity Tomatos and 30 lbs of Roma's. It was a great mixture. I then pressure canned it in jars and put them down stairs with all of my other food storage. It canned really well and we've already used our first jar, so delicious and tasty! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, you would be surprised how many crazy methods that I've found about how to make tomato paste on the internet!!!

September 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterbREE

Is it OK to can the paste when you have the finished product?

September 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterScott

Thanks for sharing your recipe! I have been making paste with just the tomatoes (which is also great), but will try some with garlic and bay.
We have a small vegetable farm, so end up with lots of tomato seconds- and many of the varieties are pretty juicy for making paste. When I make paste, I cut the tomatoes in 1/2 (or smaller, depending on tomato size), and do a quick squeeze to get rid of some of the juice and seeds before cooking them. Then, I simmer the "extra" juice for 5 or 10 minutes and freeze it for cooking with later. 2 preserved items from the same tomatoes :) Also, if there is a lot of liquid after putting the tomatoes through the food mill, I start the cooking process on the stovetop (because it's faster), than transfer to sheets to bake for hours.

September 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrenda

I am on my second batch of tomato paste. The first time, I ran through a food mill as directed. Before running the tomatoes through the mill, I drained the softened tomatoes in a colander, saving that juice for cooking with. The pulp made a beautiful paste! Could not be happier with the results! This time however, after reading some of the suggestions, I have so many tomatoes and more to pick, I thought I would tweak it and try the juicing method as well as the tried and true. First pan is the tried and true and is looking great. Second pan in the oven from the juicer, while it is cooking down faster and does yield more,it does not have the color of the first. Still have more tomatoes waiting, but think the skins and seeds being juiced really alters it and does not look as appetizing to me. I am still saving the first straining juice and love it for soups and will either freeze it or can it. Running out of jars fast this year! Was hoping to gift the paste at Christmas to my cooking friends, but not sure now about the alternate version, there is a difference. Thank you for posting your method!! Love it!!

September 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPam

I am getting ready to try your recipe on canning tomato paste. This will be my first time as I've canned everything else with tomatoes that I can think of including tomato jam (which was absolutely yummy). I really want to can them in pint jars but am leary about the processing time , headspace, etc. Can someone give me some suggestions on this? I love the recipe for the tomato paste, just need some guidance on canning it from that point. Thanks so much

October 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterShannon

Oven temp?

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRob

From the Italian Dish:
Rob: the recipe says it is 300 degrees F.

February 1, 2014 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Well I'm going to have one up on you by using my solar cooker (which also works as a dryer if you keep the lid slightly raised for the moisture to leave the cooker....) I've dried fruit in it so am looking forward to my own tomato paste....thanks so much for the recipe and the info about how the puree was originally laid out in the sun and dried that way! The 21st century with it's solar ovens will return the recipe to it's original format!

February 19, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterangeli alvares

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