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Homemade Tomato Paste

I do realize that not all of you have six or seven pounds of tomatoes laying around your kitchen, but on the off chance that some of you are thigh-deep in tomatoes from the garden, here’s what you want to do with them.  No kidding.

I really have no idea what prompted me to make tomato paste.  I have a case of the stuff in the pantry that I bought at Costco a couple months ago.  Perhaps I just needed a diversion from all the tomato sauce and marinara that I’ve been canning.  I use tomato paste a lot (hence the case from Costco), so why not see if homemade beats out the stuff in the can.  Well, duh.

Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to be this amazed.  The depth and intensity of the flavor just blew me away.  This is, hands down, the best tomato paste ever.  And maybe the easiest to make.

I started with roma tomatoes from the garden.  This year I planted a roma hybrid called “Big Mama” and they’ve been incredible.  Super meaty and sweet.  So I used 6 ½ lbs of those Big Mamas, a few cloves of garlic, a couple bay leaves and a little olive oil.  There’s no need to peel or seed the tomatoes because after a rough chop, everything just gets thrown in the pot to cook down for like 15 minutes.

But there is one little catch.  You knew there was going to be a catch, right?  Well, the catch is that you must have one of these….

...a food mill.  One of the best kitchen tools ever invented, and if you don’t have one, I highly recommend you fix that.  Food mills have been around forever and there’s a reason for that… they’re dang easy and they take all the work out of making stuff like tomato paste.  All you do is spoon your now-soft tomatoes into the food mill, turn the handle a few times,


and voila! out comes the perfectly smooth tomato stuff… no skins, no seeds.

The tomato sauce then goes on a baking sheet and into the oven for a few hours during which time it turns into tomato paste…


Very, very good tomato paste.  Yes, it really is that easy.    Here’s the recipe…

Homemade Tomato Paste

Click here for a printable recipe

A couple of tips... after the first hour of cooking, check every half hour as the edges tend to turn dark and burn rather quickly.  Just give it a little stir every 30 minutes or so.  Also, every now and then I open the oven door to let the steam escape which speeds the process along.  It takes anywhere from 3 to 4 hours to fully create a good paste.

6-7 lbs of fresh, ripe tomatoes (in season, preferably), roughly chopped

3-4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
2 bay leaves
kosher or sea salt (optional)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Place the chopped tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and bay leaves in a large dutch oven or stock pot and cook until the tomatoes are softened, about 10 to 20 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 3 to 4 hours, checking every 30 minutes or so and stirring if the edges are starting to get dark.   Cook until the puree has turned into a paste and is very thick.  If the tomatoes are darkening a little too quickly, turn the oven down to 250 degrees.

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.

Click here to ask a question or leave a comment

Reader Comments (32)

Looks fabulous! I can imagine how much better homemade must be. Thanks for the inspiration!

August 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRachael Deaver

You're welcome, Rachael. Do hope you'll give it a try!

August 12, 2012 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

Looks pretty easy. Might have to try my hand at this. Lovely photos.

August 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBeatrice

This could be worth buying 7 lbs of tomatoes.

August 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGeorgia

My mom just gave me a 10lb box of tomatoes and I've been wondering what to do with them. Tomato paste!

August 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVera M.

Thanks so much, Beatrice. It really is easy and incredibly good stuff.

August 12, 2012 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

Oh, I love this! And you're so right about the food mill. I use mine for applesauce apple butter too! No peeling or seeding!

August 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatherine

I'm sure you've been expecting this question - what if i don't have a food mill and there's none for miles around...what can I use instead. Dare I say a blender?

August 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNonsense Girl

If you don't have access to a food mill and you don't mind little tomato seeds in your tomato paste, you can easily peel your tomatoes by scoring an X on the bottom of each one and briefly dipping them (about 30 seconds) in boiling water. Let them cool and the skins come right off. Then proceed with the recipe by chopping the tomatoes, throwing everything in the pot, cooking, and then, yes, get out your blender or food processor and reduce everything to a very smooth sauce. Don't forget to remove the bay leaves before blending. That should get you past needing a food mill. It may not be as smooth as you would get from a food mill, but you will still have some great tomato paste! Hope that helps! Let us know how it turns out!

August 13, 2012 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

Wow, that is easy, and I love my food mill.

August 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercathy @ Noble Pig

Food mills are the best! Nice to hear from you, Cathy!

August 13, 2012 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

It looks divine! Thanks for sharing =)

Wow, this looks amazing!! I will keep an eye out for a food mill ;-)

August 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

You won't regret it, Liz. They're an incredibly handy kitchen gadget. Nice to have something this useful that you don't have to plug in!

August 15, 2012 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

This looks wonderful! I've been busy making fresh tomato sauce, and oven dried tomatoes, but I haven't tackled tomato paste yet. Thanks for the heads up on the food mill, I think I need one!

'tis the season, Sue! With all the tomatoes you're cookin' up, you'd love having a food mill! Nice to hear from you.

August 19, 2012 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

How much does this make?

August 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDianna

I apologize that I didn't note that on the recipe, Dianna. It makes about 6 ounces of tomato paste, which I'm finding lasts quite a long while in the fridge.

August 23, 2012 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

It's me again! I wasn't sure about cooking the tomatoes down in a baking sheet since most are aluminum and I would think that would give the tomato paste a tinny taste. Are you using an aluminum baking sheet? If so, have you had any issues with the taste? I put mine in a large glass dish maybe 13"x9" or thereabouts. It is taking hours to get it down to a paste consistency since it was full. It's going to be a long long night!

I think for anyone trying this recipe that itwould be much, much easier if you would skin your tomatoes first, using an "X" incision at the bottom and letting them cook in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds. That way you only have to use the food mill to get rid of the seeds and crush the tomatoes. I will do that next time since it seemed I lost a lot of the fruit even though I built a few muscles using that food mill to get as much as I could out of it.

September 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDianna

I did use an aluminum baking sheet, Diane, and there was no tinny taste at all. The original recipe calls for you to use 2 baking sheets if you have a lot of tomatoes, so if you're going to use a 9 x 13, you should probably use more than just one. I'm not sure that the tomatoes will really cook down correctly if your 9 x 13 is full. Also, as to the food mill, make sure you use the insert with the smallest holes. I didn't lose any of the fruit... all that was left in the mill were skin and seeds. I do hope your tomato paste comes out Diane. It really is wonderful stuff.

September 2, 2012 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

I love the food mill I have now. Before I purchased it I used a large wire seive/strainer and a wooden spoon hoovering over a bowl that it could rest on the rim.

September 2, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbonnie

Wow, Bonnie, I admire your tenacity! I bet you ARE enjoying your food mill. Aren't they great? Nice to hear from you!

September 2, 2012 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

Hey Patrice,

Just wanted to let you know that I tried your recipe. Results are here: http://goo.gl/BD5ps. Once the tomato paste was finished, I blended it up for about 2 minutes in the food processor to get that smooth consistency. I also used that tomato paste to make an awesome ketchup: http://goo.gl/vw1Jc.

One thing I noticed is that similar to your picture, there was quite a lot of burnt tomato on the edges. How can we avoid that in the future?

January 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel

So glad you liked the tomato paste, Daniel. The edges of the tomato paste did get a little brown, but didn't burn. When I stirred it all together, the darker bits had lots of flavor that we really liked. If you prefer to not have those dark edges, just cook your paste for a little shorter period of time. Nice to hear from you!

January 22, 2013 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

I have made excellent tomato paste without removing seeds OR skin. I cook in down on the stove top and use my hand-held blender to puree the tomatoes as they cook down. By the time the sauce has concentrated to paste consistency, the seeds and skin are completely dissolved and only contribute to the tomatoey goodness of the paste. The key is to barely simmer it for many many hours, stirring every hour or so - more frequently as you get to the end.

September 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSharon Levine

Thanks for that great idea, Sharon! We'll have to give that a try!

September 8, 2013 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

28 pounds of tomatoes roughly 3 pints of tomato paste & 6 pints of tomato juice

When you mentioned thigh deep in tomatoes, I thought this was the perfect recipe for me. However quadrupling the recipe was quite daunting. The food mill I recently purchased was a necessity in this process. I was able to easily separate much of the juice from the pulp using the mill. Two 9X13 pans full of thicker pulp would have likely reduced much more quickly in shallower pans, but having only one oven rack, I made do.

I later transferred the reduced paste to the stovetop and continued reducing. After 10 hours of cooking, it was still a little thinner than tomato paste from the store, but very tasty and perhaps worth doing again, with less tomatoes or slight modification to the process. It will still be an excellent addition to some other tomato dishes.

September 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteph

Wow, Steph! 28 pounds is a LOT of tomatoes!! I have found, and I think you discovered, that this works best if you don't overload the sheet pan. It really does take a long time to cook down if there's too much in there, and having 2 sheet pans in the oven reduces the ability for it to evaporate as well. I admire your persistence. You got it done and it really is so good. I always have a jar of it in my fridge and am continually finding new ways to use it. Nice to hear from you!

September 29, 2013 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

Hello! I stumbled upon your blog when doing a search for recipe plugins on Squarespace. I too use Squarespace; would you mind sharing how you get your recipes to open to a new page for a printer friendly recipe? I opened a ticket at Squarespace, but they couldn't help. So far all the plugins I've found only work with Wordpress. I thank you in advance for any help with this matter!

Warmest Regards,


October 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRhea

I will email you instructions on how to do that, Rhea!

October 22, 2013 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

I really enjoyed your post and want to try my hand at making tomato paste. So i was wondering about your food mill if you don't mind me asking what is the brand name and where did you get it because I have been searching the internet on food mills and they all pretty much sit flat which I imagine is to sit it on a bowl but I like how yours stands up taller so if you could please let me know I would appreciate it. Thank you.

February 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTracy V

I got my food mill years ago (like 20 years ago) in a little kitchen store in Santa Cruz, Ca. It's European... Vev Vigano, and I don't think they make them anymore. Those little legs you see in the photo can fold flat to sit on a bowl, or down to sit on a table. I would think that most food mills might also function like this, but I have to confess to not having researched them recently. I have to say that the ability to sit over a bowl is much more convenient than sitting up as in the photo. Hope that helps, Tracy!

February 27, 2014 | Registered CommenterPatrice Berry

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