Guest Author - Jason Hodge
Tomato paste is one of those things that no matter what type of fare you cook, you can always find a great reason to use. I love a great tomato paste, but don't like the 'tinny' flavor the canned varieties impart, along with the less-than-healthy ingredients and processing methods.
In this article I'm going to walk you through one of my favorite pastes, how to make it, and a few great reasons why you want to make your own.
First the reasons!
Fruity, sweet, and tangy, with an acidic bite to it, artisan-style tomato paste is second to none. It's deep, rich, has a complex flavor profile, limitless varieties, and affords you the ability to ensure the highest quality in processing. Once you make this, you'll be hard-pressed to ever go back to the store-bought, or canned versions.
Making it by hand, in small batches allows you to measure, with exactness, each addition, salt levels, spice mix, and the like, while policing the unwanted, non-food, items from falling, flying, or God forbid, crawling or scurrying in to your mixer. Unfortunately, the larger the process gets, and the bigger the operation, the more workers on the line, the harder it becomes to control sanitation, so the FDA gives certain allowances to keep things moving forward, and realistic in the food industry.
When it comes to getting the most out of your foods, freshness is always a key factor. When you make your own condiments, you absolutely know how fresh it is; conversely, with packaged goods, you only know the "best used by" date. Many nutrients decline with age; and, making your own condiments and food additives will always be head and shoulders above what you can get out of a package.
Making your tomato paste
1 large ceramic coated cast iron Dutch oven
1 large wooden/bamboo mixing spoon
1 blender/immersion blender
sterile canning jars/storage container
coconut oil [enough to cover the bottom of your Dutch oven/cooking vessel]
fresh organic tomatoes [the sweeter the better]
fresh lemon juice [1 tbsp for every 2 cups of tomatoes - optional - controls acidity]
pink Himalayan salt
[This is so simple, no measurements required.]
Step 1. Heat your Dutch oven and add your oil and washed tomatoes.
Step 2. Stir occasionally, cover and let tomatoes begin to burst and caramelize. Add salt.
Step 3. If you only have a regular blender, scoop your tomatoes into it and blend on high until completely liquefied and add your lemon juice. If you have an immersion blender [hand blender], press the juices out of the tomatoes with your spoon, add lemon juice, and liquefy the tomatoes with the handheld blender.
Step 4. Reduce heat to a simmer stirring to keep tomatoes from sticking and evaporate all excess liquid until you reach the consistency of a thick paste. Taste and adjust salt if necessary, then bottle or ready for the freezer in designated ice trays for later use.
The great things I like about this tomato paste recipe that it's simple, functional, clean, organic, high in bio-available trace minerals, versatile [you can use it in all of your sweet and savory preparations that call for that tomatoey goodness, with no additives/preservatives], totally gourmet, tasty, and the healthiest tomato paste you could get your hands on.
You will never look at tomato paste the same way once you make your own; and chances are... you'll never go back to the canned version again. Just be sure to make enough, or you'll kick yourself.
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Until next time...