Thursday, July 6, 2017

Tomato Paste {Water Bath Canning}

I've been canning tomato products for years, but I never thought I'd be making my own tomato paste. I guess I was just convinced it had to take a long time to cook down and thicken ... never did I dream it would actually take less time and be much easier than I thought.

When tomato season came around again this year, I found myself buying my favorite Roma tomatoes from Willard Farms, a family farm local to me. If you can't find Roma tomatoes, San Marzano plum tomatoes are also an excellent choice.

"Prized for its use in tomato paste and sauces since its introduction in 1955, Roma Tomatoes produce a large harvest of thick-walled, meaty, bright red, egg-shaped tomatoes about 3 inches long and with few seeds. This tomato is not juicy. This is not a slicing tomato. Instead, the flesh is thick and drier so that it will cook down into a thick sauce. Cooking intensifies flavor, too. If you can tomatoes, make your own spaghetti sauce, or like to chop a tomato into an omelet, this is a great choice. It's not too juicy in the pan compared to slicing tomatoes. The fruit freezes well for later cooking, too."

And so today I set out to make tomato paste. Oh my goodness, the flavor is so rich and intensified, it tastes like a vine ripe tomato just picked. Amazingly delicious ... I may never buy it commercially again!

4 quarts tomato sauce
lemon juice concentrate
salt (optional)

Begin by making Tomato Sauce following my Tomato Sauce Canning Made Easy recipe. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour 1 quart tomato sauce onto a rimmed baking sheet. You can do 2 baking sheets at one time.

Place baking sheets on 2 racks in your oven and set the timer for 60 minutes. At the 30 minute mark, stir tomato sauce; you will see it's already reducing and thickening. Switch baking sheets around by moving the baking sheet on the bottom rack to the top rack and the top baking sheet to the bottom rack.

Continue baking another 20-30 minutes, checking and stirring often, until tomato sauce is reduced to a tomato paste being careful not to burn it.

Repeat process with remaining 2 quarts of tomato sauce.

Add 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice to each 4 oz jar or 1 tablespoon to each 8 oz jar, and 1/4-1/2 tsp. salt (if using) to each jar. Spoon tomato paste into jars, smoothing and removing air bubbles, leaving 1/2"-inch head-space.

Process jars 45 minutes in boiling water bath following the guidance from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Remove jars from canner and let cool undisturbed 24 hours on your kitchen counter-top. Jars are sealed when button on top of lid is fully depressed and won't move. Store in pantry up to one year. Open jars need to be refrigerated.

Yield: approx. 2 - 8 oz jars or 4 - 4 oz jars per quart of tomato sauce (my total yield was 5 - 4 oz jars and 3 - 8 oz jars for 4 quarts of tomato sauce)


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