Today I’m going to tell you what to do with that extra tomato paste that remains in the can after you’ve used what you need for your recipe. In addition to helping you prevent waste, it’ll make your life so much easier the next time you need tomato paste. I’m also going to share with you one of my sources for great cooking tips like this one.
How not to waste tomato paste
Most recipes that call for tomato paste call for only one tablespoon, or a few tablespoons at most, to impart a nice tomato flavor. Rarely do you ever need the entire can. What I used to do after I opened a can to make a particular recipe and used what I needed was to save the rest in a container in my fridge. Typically, the next thing that happened was for me to find it in the back of my fridge covered in mold a few weeks later. I might as well have just thrown it away!
That never happens to me anymore. Why? Because now I freeze leftover paste in tablespoon-sized increments. To do this, take a piece of wax paper. Put it on a movable flat surface like a baking tray or cutting board. Measure out tablespoonfuls of tomato paste and put them on the paper, as if it was cookie dough you were getting ready to bake. Put them in the freezer for a couple hours until they firm up, then put them in an airtight container. Any freezer-safe container or Ziploc-type bag will do.
Then, the next time you’re making a recipe that calls for tomato paste, even months later, you can just take out however many tablespoon-sized chunks you need. You can throw them into whatever soup or sautee you’re making, and they thaw within minutes. Not only are you avoiding waste, but this saves you the work of opening a can.
A resource for the home cook
I love finding tricks like this that save me time and money. Could I have thought of this myself? Perhaps. Did I? No. That’s why I’m grateful for resources like Cooks Illustrated magazine from America’s Test Kitchen, where I learned about this tip. The magazine comes out every other month, and in each issue they have a section called Quick Tips where people write in little tips and tricks they discover that make their lives easier.
Are all the tips they mention relevant to my life? No. I haven’t cracked any pistachios lately, for example, although now I know that I could use a garlic press to do so. And the magazine isn’t vegetarian by any stretch. But there are always things in there relevant to vegetarians. And you’ve got to admire the concept: an entire magazine (nay, empire) dedicated to informing and empowering the home cook. I love it.
So now you’ll never need to waste tomato paste again, and you know of a handy resource for the home cook that, while geared towards people who eat everything, can still be useful for plant-based dieters. Got any tips you’ve discovered to avoid waste in the kitchen? Please share below in the comments.