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