Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Homemade Tomato Paste from Fresh Tomatoes

Homemade tomato paste is so easy to make and so much better than anything you can buy in a can.  Use it to make spaghetti sauce or in any recipe calling for tomato paste.

Select fresh, meaty tomatoes - like Roma.  I used a mixture of tomatoes I got from my garden.  You can use any tomato you like but the more water that has to cook off the longer it will take to reduce the tomatoes to a paste.

Homemade Tomato Paste from Fresh Tomatoes
(Slow Cooker - Water Bath Method)
About 9 half-pint jars

8 quarts tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon canning or pickling salt
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

I use the whole tomato but you can take the time to peeled and core them before you chop them up.  Discard stems and cut out any bruised spots. 

Place the tomatoes into a large pot and stir in 1 teaspoon salt.  Bring them to a boil over high heat. Cook about 2-3 minutes until they begin to soften, stirring often. 

In batches, puree the tomatoes in a blender until smooth and transfer to a slow cooker. Add the bay leaves. (You can also cook the tomatoes down on the stove top, if desired.)

Cook on low, with the lid removed, for approximately 8 hours. Depending on desired consistency, you might need to cook for longer.  You can cook the tomatoes on high to reduce the time but you'll have to pay attention to it so that they don't burn or stick.

I let them cook overnight on low heat.  They still needed to reduce a bit more even then.

Once the tomatoes have cooked down into a thick, delicious paste you're ready to can them.

Prepare the jars (either pint or half-pint canning) and lids by washing them in hot, soapy water.  Rinse well.  Dry the bands and set aside. Heat jars and lids in a sauce pot of simmering water.  Allow jars and lids to remain in hot water until ready for use, removing one at a time as needed.  

Fill boiling-water canner half-full with hot water. Heat water just to a simmer and keep hot until used for processing.

Transfer the tomato paste into the prepared jars. (Make sure you remove the bay leaves)  Add a 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice to each jar prior to adding the tomatoes.  Leave 1/2 inch of head space.  Runa thin knife along the sides of each jar to release as many air bubbles as possible. 

Wipe rim and threads of jar with a dean, damp cloth. Remove lid from hot water using a lid wand. Place lid on jar. Screw band down evenly and firmly, just until resistance is met-fingertip tight.

As each jar is filled, set into the boiling-water canner. Water in canner should be kept at a simmer. After all jars are filled and placed into the pot make sure the water covers the two-piece caps on the jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.

Put lid on canner. Bring water to a boil. Start counting processing time after water comes to a rolling boil. Process pints 30 minutes, half-pints 20 minutes, at a gentle but steady boil for altitudes at or below 1,000 feet above sea level.

When processing time is complete, turn off heat and remove canner lid. Let canner cool 10 minutes before removing jars. Remove jars from canner and set them upright, 1 to 2 inches apart, on a dry towel to cool. Do not retighten bands. Let jars cool 12 to 24 hours.

After jars have cooled, check lids for a seal by pressing on the center of each lid. If the center is pulled down and does not flex, remove the band and gently try to lift the lid off with your fingertips. If the lid does not flex and you cannot lift it off the lid has a good vacuum seal. Wipe lid and jar surface with a clean, damp cloth to remove food particles or residue. Label. Store jars in a cool, dry, dark place.  They will keep for up to a year.