Opening a jar of tomato paste can feel a bit like a Chopped-style challenge. How many uses for this tomato paste can I think of before it goes moldy and I have to throw it away? I tend to pay a little more for my tomato paste, opting for a glass jar over a can, so that there are no BPA lining worries. Granted, it’s not an enormous expense, but it’s still enough that I’d rather not waste food. I’ll add the paste to marinades, soups, and chili, but most of the time in the battle of the tomato paste, I lose. The glass is recycled and the tomato paste goes down the drain…
So after I made cream of tomato soup recently, I decided that as soon as I was done, I was going to use one of the tomato paste solutions I’d heard over the years by freezing it. It’s something I’d thought about doing before, but it always sounded like it would take too much time.
I was totally wrong! In terms of active time, it took only minutes. I made some room in the freezer. Then I lined a baking sheet with parchment paper. With a measuring spoon, I doled out tomato paste in tablespoon-sized dollops like red tomato-y cookies. I then popped the sheet into the freezer until the paste patties were solid.
Once they were completely frozen separately, I just moved the solid tomato paste patties into a glass container. I marked the outside of the glass with a black permanent marker, so that I’d know what was inside. (After I’ve used all of the tomato paste, the marker easily comes off glass with a scratcher pad.)
Now when tomato paste is needed in a recipe I have some options. I can thaw a tablespoon ahead of time to use as one normally would. If making a chili or soup, the frozen tomato paste can simply be added to the pot to melt in the hot liquid. Or if it’s a blended soup (and your blender handles frozen things well), I can just put them straight into the blender with the other ingredients.
I recently made another batch of tomato soup, and it was so handy to simply pull a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste from the freezer. I like knowing that I always have tomato paste at the ready without having to worry about it meeting a furry, moldy demise before I can use it.
What are your favorite techniques for minimizing food waste?