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Canning Tomato Paste

August 29, 2009

There isn’t a lot out there on teh Interwebs about making and canning tomato paste.  My canning bible, the Ball Blue Book of Preserving, doesn’t have a recipe for it, and it’s widely known you aren’t supposed to use your grandmother’s canning recipes anymore (or random web canning recipes) because of new food safety standards.

I’ve also found conflicting advice on canning tomatoes.  Some websites say tomatoes are high in acid, some say it’s questionable.  So that really wasn’t helpful.

Tomato paste is the base for many tomato-based meals, so I thought having some made of my own tomatoes on hand would be a great thing to have.  After going through the process, it is so time consuming, and you end up with so little for so many tomatoes, I would say the only time I would do this again is if I had made sauce, salsa, and anything else I wanted first and still had so many tomatoes, I needed something else to do with them.

5 lbs of tomatoes

5 lbs of tomatoes

I started with about FIVE POUNDS of tomatoes and ended up with 4 oz. of tomato paste.  Yea.  At one point, I almost gave up and added them to my hubby’s tomato sauce he was cooking, but I decided to see what I would have in the end.  Not much!  As you can see, all of my tomatoes were Green Zebras (plus one big Pineapple tomato) so I was going to end up with green tomato paste!

I first peeled and cored all the tomatos, which I’ve decided is a time consuming task in itself that I don’t really like.  Another reason to stop making tomato-stuff.  Afterwards, I stuck it all in the blender (I hadn’t even de-seeded yet) and gave it a whirl until it turned into a big mushy mess, full of lots of water.

Peeled and cored tomatoes

The blender nearly exploded with all the tomatoes

The blender nearly exploded with all the tomatoes

And then, it all went into a pot just big enough for all the tomatoes to touch the bottom.  It was full of water and I knew I had a long time ahead of me.  After one hour of cooking, I pressed the tomato mush through a mesh sieve to get out all the seeds, and then put it back in the pot to cook it down, adding 1 bay leaf and 1 clove of garlic.  You’re supposed to add 2 bay leaves, but I figured that was for double the amount of tomatoes I’d had.  I still put in the same amount of garlic though, because I like garlic!

The tomatoes disappeared to almost nothing

The tomatoes disappeared to almost nothing

And I cooked it down and cooked it down and cooked it down.  Good lord, it took FOREVER!!  Thank goodness it was 60 degrees and raining here because there is no way I’d want to make this over a hot stove on a hot summer day.  I was going to remove the garlic clove before I canned it, but it turned into mush and melted into the paste.  Oops.

Mounded tomato paste

Mounded tomato paste

Finished tomato paste

Finished tomato paste

I scraped it all together when it was able to mound on a spoon and smushed it into a little quarter pint jar we had bought to use for gifts.  Then I realized I was suppose to add lemon juice to the tomatoes (while in the jar, not beforehand). I searched the house fruitlessly but we had no lemon juice!  Luckily we had citric acid laying around (seriously, citric acid just laying around?  I can’t believe that sentence just came out – without the co-op I never would have even known what citric acid was.  By the way, it’s the outside sour stuff on Sour Patch Kids).  I looked up online and it says to use 1/2 teaspoon per quart of paste.  So I stuck 1/16 of a teaspoon in my little 4 ounce jar and then filled the rest of the jar to the brim with paste. Got that?  Put a little paste in, then your citric acid, then more paste.  I processed it in a boiling water processor for 45 minutes and ended up with this cute looking jar.

All that work for this

All that work for this

Yea, not worth all that work for this.  Oh well, live and learn.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 30, 2009 9:45 pm

    Sorry the tomato paste didn’t work out quite as planned – you will really enjoy that jar when you go to use it though! :)

    I’m super impressed you had citric acid. Seems like a very specific thing to have around the house! Where do you buy it?

  2. Monet Beard permalink
    October 18, 2009 10:03 am

    I had to laugh reading this post. I’ve canned so much this summer and can relate to your frustration.
    I made some tomato sauce and that too took forever! After over 8 hours in the kitchen, waiting for my sauce to thicken, I finally had had enough and canned it. It’s not thick, but it tastes good.
    Hope you enjoy your jar of tomato paste!

  3. August 29, 2010 9:42 am

    Wow! I’m so glad I read this before I was just about to go in the kitchen and try to make tomato paste! Thanks so much!
    I’ll just deal with runny sauce, ugh! :)

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