When recipes call for tomato paste, I usually only use a teaspoon, a tablespoon, or two at most.
I rarely use an entire can of tomato paste, and when I do, it’s usually because I’m cooking multiple recipes or a large group of people.
So that leftover tomato paste or half-used tomato paste ends up in the refrigerator.
I’d then almost always end up tossing what was left because I had forgotten about it in the fridge.
This was all before I discovered that freezing tomato paste was the best way to minimize food waste (save money) and almost always guarantee that I’d have tomato paste on hand for any future recipe ideas requiring a pinch of tomato flavors from tomato paste for that extra umami flavor.
Table of Contents
What Is Tomato Paste?
Tomato paste is a tomato concentrate with cooked, reduced, and deseeded peeled fresh tomatoes and salt. The cooking process reduces the water content and creates a concentrated paste that adds thickness to recipes, a beautiful red color, and sweetness.
Some tomato paste recipes can also include oil and citric acid for preservation.
Is Canned Tomato Paste Different Than A Tube Of Tomato Paste?
Store-bought prepackaged tomato paste comes in two containers: a tube and a can.
An unopened tomato paste can be stored in the pantry at room temperature. However, the remaining paste must be stored in the fridge once opened.
The quality and recipe are the same in the can and tube. But once they’re opened, that’s where they differ.
Canned Tomato Paste
Canned tomato paste comes in different sizes and variations.
There are organic options made with vine-ripened tomatoes shipped directly from Italy. Also, non-organic options are made from other tomato variations.
This makes a sweet paste that’s sealed and transported in a can.
Tube of Tomato Paste
A tube of tomato paste is slightly different than a can because of the storage conditions.
Once a tube of tomato paste is opened, it can be stored in the tube for future use.
It can be resealed with the tube top, which also affects the shelf life of the tomato paste in its original packaging.
What Is The Shelf Life of Tomato Paste? And How Long Does Tomato Paste Last In The Fridge?
I have noticed that the shelf life of different tomato paste brands varies. For example, Trader Joe’s Trader Griotto’s tube of tomato paste says that it’s good up to 15 days after opening, and Cento’s tubed tomato paste is good up to 30-45 days after opening.
Both must be refrigerated after opening, so it’s best to follow instructions and best-by dates set by the manufacturers and brands.
After opening, canned tomato paste can last in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. The key to a canned paste is to store it properly.
Transfer the remaining paste into an airtight container or a glass jar to keep it at its best quality.
Remember, xposure to air can lead to spoilage, so minimizing how much air the paste is exposed to is incredibly immportant.
How To Extend The Shelf Life Of Tomato Paste By Freezing It
Freezing for a longer shelf life is the best way to extend the life of the paste. This is also true for tomato or pasta sauce and tomato puree.
It’s essential to be mindfull of freezer burn. To avoid it, store any leftover paste in a freezer bag wrapped in parchment paper.
Store in serving-sized portions or tablespoons of tomato paste in silicone trays or ice cube trays and wrap the trays with parchment paper and in freezer bags to prevent both freezer burn and freezer taste.
You can also individually wrap tablespoon portions in small pieces of parchment paper and place them in an air-tight container.
How Can I Tell If My Tomato Paste Has Gone Bad?
One clear sign that tomato paste has spoiled is the presence of mold. If you notice any mold growth on the tomato paste, dispose of it immediatly.
Top Tips For Storing Tomato Paste
- Using The Right Container Is Key – use an air-tight container to prevent the tomato paste from breaking down and oxidizing.
- Keep unopened tomato paste in a cool, dry place – this will ensure that the can isn’t exposed to high temperatures or direct sunlight.
- Consider buying smaller cans and tubes of tomato paste – If your recipe only needs a small amount of tomato paste, buy smaller portions for better-tasting recipes and ingredients.
Recipe Ideas That Call For Tomato Paste
Do you have an unopened can of tomato paste in the pantry or half a tube left in the refrigerator? Try some of these recipes that include tomato paste as an ingredient.
First, I love these No-Marinate Costillas (Baked Pork Baby Back Ribs). They’re coated in tomato paste and a ton of flavor, giving them that juicy and flavorful crust.
This vegetarian Puerto Rican arroz con gandules also has that incredible umami flavor from the tomato paste and tons of spices.