Plenty of our favorite recipes call for the use of some flavor-enhancing tomato paste. Whether it’s a pasta sauce, stew, or pretty much any Italian dish, you’d better get ready to throw some tomato paste into the mix!
The only problem is, that these recipes will rarely tell you to use up an entire can of tomato paste, leaving you with an open container that you have to awkwardly cover with plastic wrap. But what if we told you there were some other things you could do with the leftover tomato paste and then let it go to waste?
In this article, we’re going to be taking a look at some of these things and finding out about all the creative ways to use up the last of your delicious tomato paste.
Freezing Your Tomato Paste
When you have leftover food, your first instinct is to store it away tightly in your fridge or freezer but you probably wouldn’t think to freeze leftover tomato paste, right?
Well, it turns out tomato paste actually keeps surprisingly well in the freezer. In fact, doing this could extend the lifespan of your leftover tomato paste by several months!
Then, when you’re ready to use the tomato paste again for another recipe, you can simply take it out of the freezer and add it straight into a saucepan, allowing it to melt with the bubbling sauce.
Here’s What You Need To Do
Start by preparing a zip-top baggie with a label that will tell you exactly what the tomato paste is and when you put it in your freezer. This is an important step in the process because it will help you a few months down the line to keep track of all the food you have stored and avoid any of it going to waste.
As long as you write something like ‘tomato paste’ and that day’s date on the label, you shouldn’t have any problems.
Then, scrape out all of the remaining tomato paste from the tin, into the zip-top bag. Use a knife or a spoon to make sure you get every last drop of the paste out and avoid wastage as much as possible.
Finally, you need to try and get as much of the air out of the bag as possible. Press down on the bag to get rid of all the little air pockets and seal up the top to make it completely air-tight.
Now, your tomato paste is ready to be stored away in the freezer to be used again someday.
Another way you can prepare your tomato paste to be stored in the freezer is by using an ice cube tray.
For this method, simply pour out the remaining tomato paste into an ice cube tray, filling up as many of the sections as you can so none are left half-full. Again, try to scrape as much paste as possible out of the tin using a spoon or knife.
Then, leave the tray in your freezer for a few hours but try not to leave it in there overnight as it may start to cause some cross-contamination with other things in your freezer.
Once the tomato cubes have completely frozen, transfer them to a labeled zip-top bag, flatten as much of the air out as you can and leave it in the freezer for a rainy day.
The best part about storing the tomato paste like this is that you have equally portioned cubes that you can easily add to a sauce for it to melt down and enhance the flavor dramatically.
Making Tomato Seasoning
Probably the most interesting and exciting way to repurpose your leftover tomato paste is to turn it into a brand new seasoning of its own!
If you prefer, you can always just make this into a tomato salt combination but we’re going to elevate that recipe to the next level with this seasoning.
Here’s How It Works
- Start by preheating your oven to 225°F.
- Spread your leftover tomato paste onto a baking sheet, lined with parchment. Make sure you use a spoon or a knife to scrape out as much of the leftover paste from the tin as you possibly can.
- Put the tray into the oven and leave it to bake for 25 minutes or until you can see that the tomato paste has become completely dry.
- Then, scrape the dried tomato paste into a spice grinder or food processor and blitz it into a fine powder. If some parts of the paste are getting stuck while grinding, simply pause the grinder to scrape down the sides and make sure everything gets evenly processed.
- Finally, tip the ground-up tomato powder into a jar or any kind of receptacle and add whatever herbs and spices you like. A good baseline for the other added herbs and spices is salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, and dried herbs but you can add whatever combinations you have in your kitchen.
Of course, the quantities for the other herbs and spices will vary depending on how much leftover tomato paste you’re using.
In general, though, there’s no wrong or the right amount of each herb and spice to use and you can use this recipe as an opportunity to experiment with some new flavor combinations.
You can store this tomato seasoning mix away in a jar or any other air-tight container and break it out to add to pretty much any dish you cook in the future.
You could try sprinkling it over a salad, rubbing it into some meat before cooking, or just simply adding it to a sauce while it’s bubbling away on the stovetop. The possibilities are pretty much endless!
However, it is worth bearing in mind that this seasoning mix will only keep for around 2 months, even in an air-tight container. For that reason, it’s also a good idea to label the container so you know exactly when it was made and when you’ll need to have used it all up.
Making Sauce With Your Leftover Tomato Paste
Perhaps the most obvious thing you could do with your leftover tomato paste is to use it for exactly the same purpose you likely bought it for: to make a sauce.
The beauty of this method is that you can easily adjust the quantities of each ingredient depending on how much leftover tomato paste you have in your can.
The sauce can then be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge until you’re ready to add it to some pasta.
Here’s A Very Simple Recipe For A Delicious Tomato Sauce
- For every 1 can of tomato paste you’re using, add 2 cans of diced tomatoes, 1 cup of water, 1 ½ teaspoon of salt, ¼ teaspoon of pepper, ¼ teaspoon of dried Italian herbs, and ¼ teaspoon of chili flakes to a saucepan.
- Bring the ingredients up to a simmer on high heat, then reduce the heat to medium so the sauce is slightly bubbling.
- Leave the sauce for 40 minutes, coming back occasionally to stir it, then store in an air-tight container or serve it with some meat or pasta.
Of course, there are plenty of other ways to make a delicious tomato sauce with some leftover tomato paste and you don’t have to follow our recipe exactly.
In fact, this is the perfect opportunity to use up other leftover ingredients you have laying around in your kitchen.
For example, if you have a single onion left in your cupboard that’s about to go bad, dice it up and fry it before adding it to this sauce recipe.
Similarly, any herbs or spices that you only have a tiny amount of left in the jar are perfect for this method. This way, you can use up the last of your seasonings, even if you only have a tiny amount left, and restock on your next visit to the grocery store.
Making New Recipes With Your Leftover Tomato Paste
It might seem pretty obvious, but you can always find recipes online that will call for you to use a small amount of tomato paste and you can easily adjust quantities of ingredients for however much you have leftover.
One good example of this is shakshuka, a tomato-based sauce with eggs poached in the middle of it. You can add tomato paste to most shakshuka recipes, even if the recipe itself doesn’t specify that you should use it.
This ingredient will simply enhance the rich, tomato-y flavors that are already present in the sauce.
It can be really annoying to have small amounts of leftover ingredients when you can’t think of anything to do with them.
Nobody likes to waste food so it can be pretty disheartening to throw away perfectly good tomato paste simply because you have too much of it.
Thankfully, you now have plenty of alternative options that can help you out the next time you find yourself in this predicament!