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Difference Between Tomato Puree and Tomato Paste

Tomato Puree and tomato paste share the same ingredients and the same start to their name and that is tomato.  This immediately puts them in the same bracket of culinary ingredients.  However, they are two different products due to the method of cooking and preparation.  The tomatoes are prepared differently to produce a tomato puree or a tomato paste.  The two products can stand side by side in identically sharing the same simple ingredient of tomatoes.  Tomato puree can be made from tomato paste, if you should run out of the pureed ingredient. Tomato paste happily mixes into a puree, but a puree does not mix up into a paste.  The denser consistency of the paste, due to its longer cooking process and fine sifting action, makes it a thicker more concentrated product.  The true test of a paste consistency is the fact that it retains its shape when dropped on a plate.  The tomato puree, as a more liquid product, does not remain in one spot as it is more liquid and runs over the plate.  Tomato puree and tomato  paste are both essential ingredients for many great dishes and are often associated with Italian cooking.  It would be hard to imagine a pizza without the tomato base.  It is spread over the pizza for the basic marguerite pizza before toppings are added.

 

What is Tomato Puree?

Tomato puree is the liquid result of lightly cooking tomatoes and then liquidizing the tomato to make a tomato juice or puree.  Pips are removed, and the mild fresh flavor of tomatoes is left in a thinner, but tasty consistency.  Tomato puree is not as concentrated as tomato paste and acts as a great enhancer for various dishes requiring a tomato based flavor.  Tomato puree can have spices and other flavors added to it to create variety to stews and other dishes.  Tomato puree is an easy liquidized ingredient that does not require too much cooking and can be made in a relatively short time.

Tomato Puree is used for…

  • Adding flavor to dishes needing a tomato base and extra liquid as the puree is more fluid than the paste.
  • Acting as the carrier of spices and flavors, the tomato puree is used to add to many savory dishes especially stews, soups and casseroles and certain specialty foods.
  • Liquidizing tomatoes is the reason for making tomato puree and having it available for adding volume and flavor to any savory dish.

 

What is Tomato Paste?

Tomato Paste is also an ingredient used for cooking and made from tomatoes.  Tomato paste takes longer to cook.  It is cooked several times to reach the paste consistency and a thicker sauce which gives it the name of tomato  paste.  The pips are removed during the process.  There are no additives and the paste’s unique taste is made purely from its own strength of flavor and intensity of tomato. The result is a paste with a thickness that does not spread if the paste is dropped on a plate.  Tomato paste does not spread over the plate as it has a firm consistency.  This makes tomato paste a better option for spreading its flavor than a puree.

Tomato Paste is used for…

  • Adding tomato flavoring to savory dishes.
  • Bringing an intensity of tomato to spread on pizza or tarts as a base or to add to the tomato element of a stew.  It is a pure tomato ingredient with no additives and the pips are removed.
  • Tomato paste can be watered down to make tomato puree. 1/3 cup of paste and 2/3 cup of water will mix up to a cup of tomato puree. 

 

Difference Between Tomato Puree and Tomato Paste

  1. Consistency

Tomato paste is a thicker concentrate of tomato.  The tomatoes are reduced through a slow cooking process and the pips removed.  Tomato puree is liquidized tomatoes that have been cooked slightly  and then the tomato is reduced to a tomato liquid ready to use to add flavor and spice if necessary.  The two tomato based flavorings are very different in their consistency.  The puree version is not easy to spread because it is more liquid and tomato paste brings more flavor to the food item it is added to, because of its concentrated strength.  Plum or Roma tomatoes are the best variety of tomatoes to use for making tomato puree or tomato paste.

  1. Method of Cooking

Tomato paste is cooked slowly for a longer time than tomato puree. The pips are removed, and the paste continues to cook until the thicker consistency is reached.  The paste cooked slowly in this manner has more strength of flavor than a puree.  Tomato puree is lightly cooked for a shorter time and the pips removed.  It remains a more liquid version of tomato paste and if necessary a tomato paste can be made into a puree by adding water to the basic tomato paste ingredient to get a puree.

  1. Flavors

Tomato paste and tomato puree both have a tomato flavor, but the paste retains a stronger flavor and does not have other flavors or spices added to the tomato.  The natural tomato soluble solids (NTSS) content of the two ingredients is different.  Puree has 8 – 23% NTSS while tomato paste has 24% NTSS and this makes the tomato paste more consistently stronger in its tomato flavor.  Tomato puree can vary in the intensity of the NTSS volume depending on how much liquid is in the final pureed tomatoes, after they have been liquidized.

  1. Freezing and Storage

There is a real possibility that the amount of paste in the can is more than the amount required.  Top chefs recommend freezing the extra to use next time.  The freezer method for tomato paste is scooping blobs of paste onto a baking sheet and freezing them.  When the blobs are frozen they are easily stored in a plastic container and a blob or two taken out of the freezer bag to be used to add tomato flavor to a meal.  The puree can be frozen differently due to the consistency of the puree.  Chefs recommend storing puree in zip lock plastic bags and freezing the puree in the bag.  A bag holding 8oz or 15 oz is a good measure, and this amount corresponds with most quantities required in recipes.  In this way both products can be stored and used from the freezer for convenience.

Tomato Puree versus Tomato Paste: Comparison Chart

 

Summary of Tomato Puree Vs. Tomato Paste

  • It is easy to see the difference between these two products because of their consistency and intensity of flavor.  The paste has a stronger flavor and a thicker consistency.
  • Although both products have come from tomatoes the amount of tomato flavor is different due to the cooking process that reduces the paste to a thicker more intense flavor.  It is the slow cooking and liquid reduction that intensifies the tomato flavor in the tomato paste product.
  • Tomato paste can be watered down to make tomato puree, but tomato puree can not be made into tomato paste due to the consistency required.
  • Tomato puree is a good medium to add spices and flavorings to for enhancing the dish being prepared.  Tomato paste has an intense flavor of tomatoes and additives are not recommended.  Tomato paste stands on its own in terms of a flavor enhancement.
  • Tomato puree and tomato paste both have a place in the kitchen and can be canned to preserve their flavor.  Once opened the contents can be frozen for up to six months making the extra paste or puree usable after opening the can.
  • The long process of reducing the tomato to a paste makes this aspect of the ingredient less likely to be something to be executed in the everyday kitchen.  A puree is a quick and simple liquidizing procedure and easier to manage by the average person cooking at home.  Tomato paste is more likely to be bought from the supermarket ready for use when necessary.

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References :


[0]Christensen Julie. Tomatopaste vs puree for recipes. Oct 3 2017. www.livestrong.com/article/515006-tomatopaste-vs-puree-for -recipes.pub:leafgroupltd.viewed 8/10/2018

[1]Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/tomato-sauce-tomato-puree-2729689/

[2]Image credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e8/Tomato_paste_on_spoon.jpg/640px-Tomato_paste_on_spoon.jpg

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