Tomato Puree The Versatile Kitchen Staple You Need to Know About

Tomato puree is one of those kitchen staples that might seem humble at first glance, but it packs a powerful punch in the culinary world. Whether you’re whipping up a quick pasta sauce or adding depth to a hearty stew, tomato puree is your go-to ingredient. But what exactly is tomato puree, and why is it so important in cooking?

Tomato Puree

History of Tomato Puree

Origins of Tomato Puree

The journey of tomato puree begins with the tomato itself, a fruit that originated in South America and made its way to Europe in the 16th century. The practice of pureeing tomatoes to create a smooth, rich sauce likely developed as cooks sought to extend the shelf life of fresh tomatoes and create a versatile base for various dishes.

Evolution of Tomato Puree in Culinary Practices

Over the centuries, tomato puree has evolved from a simple preservation method to a key ingredient in many global cuisines. From Italian pasta sauces to Indian curries, tomato puree has found its place in kitchens worldwide, appreciated for its rich flavor and versatility.

Nutritional Benefits of Tomato Puree

Vitamins and Minerals

Tomato puree is not just a flavor booster; it’s also packed with essential nutrients. It’s a great source of vitamins A and C, which are important for immune function and skin health. Additionally, tomato puree contains potassium, which is vital for heart health, and iron, which is necessary for blood production.

Health Benefits

Regular consumption of tomato puree can offer several health benefits. The high levels of antioxidants, including lycopene, can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Lycopene also contributes to skin health, offering protection against sunburns and promoting a youthful complexion.

How to Make Tomato Puree at Home

Ingredients Needed

  • Fresh ripe tomatoes (preferably Roma or plum tomatoes)
  • Salt (optional)

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Blanch the Tomatoes: Start by boiling a pot of water. Score the bottom of each tomato with an “X” and drop them into the boiling water for 30-60 seconds. Remove and place them in ice water to stop the cooking process.
  2. Peel and Core: Once cooled, peel the skins off the tomatoes and remove the cores.
  3. Blend the Tomatoes: Cut the tomatoes into quarters and place them in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.
  4. Cook the Puree: Pour the blended tomatoes into a large pot and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the puree thickens. Add salt to taste if desired.
  5. Store: Let the puree cool before transferring it to jars or containers. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze for longer storage.

Different Uses of Tomato Puree in Cooking

As a Base for Sauces

Tomato puree is the foundation for countless sauces. Whether you’re making a classic marinara, a spicy arrabbiata, or a creamy vodka sauce, tomato puree provides the rich, tomatoey goodness that makes these sauces shine.

In Soups and Stews

Adding tomato puree to soups and stews is a great way to introduce a deep, robust flavor. It works wonderfully in minestrone, chili, and vegetable soups, adding a thick, hearty texture.

In Pasta Dishes

Tomato puree is a key ingredient in many pasta dishes. From lasagna to spaghetti Bolognese, the puree adds a consistent, rich tomato flavor that ties the dish together.

As a Pizza Sauce

A simple yet delicious pizza sauce can be made using tomato puree. Just season the puree with salt, pepper, oregano, and a touch of olive oil, and spread it on your pizza dough for a quick and tasty base.

In Casseroles

Tomato puree adds moisture and flavor to casseroles. Dishes like shepherd’s pie and baked ziti benefit from the addition of this versatile ingredient.

Tomato Puree vs. Tomato Paste vs. Tomato Sauce

Differences in Consistency and Flavor

Tomato puree, tomato paste, and tomato sauce each have distinct textures and flavors. Tomato puree is thicker than tomato sauce but not as concentrated as tomato paste. While tomato paste has an intense, concentrated flavor, tomato puree offers a more balanced tomato taste. Tomato sauce is usually seasoned and thinner than puree.

Best Uses for Each

  • Tomato Puree: Best for sauces, soups, and stews.
  • Tomato Paste: Ideal for adding a burst of tomato flavor to dishes.
  • Tomato Sauce: Great as a ready-to-use sauce for pasta and pizzas.

Storing Tomato Puree

Refrigeration Tips

Store homemade or opened tomato puree in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will last up to a week.

Freezing Tomato Puree

For longer storage, freeze tomato puree in ice cube trays. Once frozen, transfer the cubes to a freezer bag. This method allows you to use small amounts as needed.

Canning Tomato Puree

Safety Tips for Canning

Canning tomato puree can be a great way to preserve your harvest. Ensure you follow proper canning procedures to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

Step-by-Step Canning Process

  1. Sterilize Jars: Wash and sterilize canning jars and lids.
  2. Fill Jars: Pour hot tomato puree into the jars, leaving about half an inch of headspace.
  3. Process Jars: Process the jars in a boiling water bath for the recommended time based on your altitude.
  4. Cool and Store: Let the jars cool completely before storing them in a cool, dark place.

Top Brands of Tomato Puree

There are several quality brands available in stores, including Hunt’s, Cento, and Muir Glen. Each offers a slightly different flavor profile, so try a few to find your favorite.

Organic vs. Non-Organic

Organic tomato puree is made from tomatoes grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. While it can be more expensive, many people prefer the taste and peace of mind that comes with organic products.

Tomato Puree in Different Cuisines

Italian Cuisine

In Italy, tomato puree is a key ingredient in many traditional dishes, from pasta sauces to soups. It’s often used as a base for marinara and arrabbiata sauces.

Indian Cuisine

Indian cuisine uses tomato puree in various curries and gravies, providing a tangy and rich base for dishes like butter chicken and tikka masala.

Mexican Cuisine

Mexican dishes like enchiladas and tamales often include tomato puree in their sauces. It adds a necessary depth of flavor and richness.

Middle Eastern Cuisine

In Middle Eastern cuisine, tomato puree is used in stews, soups, and as a base for sauces. It’s essential in dishes like shakshuka and various tagines.

Recipes Featuring Tomato Puree

Classic Marinara Sauce


  • 2 cups tomato puree
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil, chopped


  1. Heat olive oil in a saucepan.
  2. Add garlic and onion, sauté until soft.
  3. Add tomato puree and bring to a simmer.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cook for 20 minutes, then stir in fresh basil.

Tomato Soup


  • 4 cups tomato puree
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh cream (optional)


  1. Melt butter in a pot.
  2. Add onion and garlic, sauté until translucent.
  3. Pour in tomato puree and vegetable broth.
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Season with salt and pepper, and add cream if desired.



  • 2 cups tomato puree
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, and paprika to taste


  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet.
  2. Add onion, garlic, and bell pepper, sauté until soft.
  3. Pour in tomato puree and season with salt, pepper, and paprika.
  4. Make small wells in the sauce and crack an egg into each.
  5. Cover and cook until eggs are set.



  • 2 cups tomato puree
  • 1 eggplant, sliced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 yellow squash, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Spread tomato puree in the bottom of a baking dish.
  3. Arrange the sliced vegetables on top in a pattern.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.

Homemade Ketchup


  • 2 cups tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp cloves


  1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Allow to cool, then blend until smooth.

Health Considerations and Dietary Restrictions

Low-Sodium Options

For those watching their sodium intake, look for low-sodium or no-salt-added tomato puree options.

Gluten-Free and Vegan Considerations

Tomato puree is naturally gluten-free and vegan, making it a versatile ingredient for various dietary needs.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using Tomato Puree

Overcooking the Puree

Overcooking can cause tomato puree to lose its vibrant color and fresh flavor. Simmer gently to maintain its qualities.

Not Seasoning Properly

Tomato puree needs proper seasoning to bring out its best flavor. Don’t forget to add salt, pepper, and other spices as needed.

Innovative Uses of Tomato Puree

In Cocktails

Believe it or not, tomato puree can add a unique twist to cocktails. Try adding a splash to a Bloody Mary for a richer tomato flavor.

As a Marinade

Tomato puree makes a great base for marinades, adding acidity and depth to meats and vegetables.

In Baked Goods

Yes, you can even use tomato puree in baking! It adds moisture and a subtle flavor to bread and muffins.


Tomato puree is an incredibly versatile and nutritious ingredient that deserves a place in every kitchen. From its rich history to its myriad uses in cooking, tomato puree offers both flavor and health benefits. So next time you’re planning a meal, consider reaching for tomato puree to elevate your dishes.


Can I use tomato puree as a substitute for fresh tomatoes?

  • Yes, tomato puree can be used as a substitute for fresh tomatoes in many recipes. Just keep in mind that it has a more concentrated flavor and a smoother texture.

How long does homemade tomato puree last?

  • Homemade tomato puree can last up to a week in the refrigerator. For longer storage, you can freeze it for up to six months.

Can I freeze tomato puree in ice cube trays?

  • Absolutely! Freezing tomato puree in ice cube trays is a convenient way to store small portions that can be easily used in recipes.

Is tomato puree keto-friendly?

  • Yes, tomato puree is low in carbohydrates and can be included in a keto diet. However, always check the label for added sugars.

What’s the difference between tomato puree and passata?

  • Tomato puree and passata are similar but not identical. Passata is usually raw and strained to remove seeds and skins, while tomato puree is cooked and sometimes seasoned. Both can be used interchangeably in recipes, depending on the desired texture and flavor.

SEE ALSO: Making Asparagus A Complete Guide


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