Tomatoes are a common ingredient. They are used to make several tomato products that are a great addition to dishes.
First things first, what is tomato puree? Tomato puree is a thick sauce that is made from briefly cooked tomatoes whose skins and seeds have been strained.
The only additive in tomato puree is salt because it is quite flavorful on its own. Compared to other tomato products like tomato sauce and tomato paste, tomato puree has a very rich flavor.
Tomato puree is usually canned, so you will find it stocked with other canned tomato products at the grocery store.
Tomato puree is readily available in most stores so you probably won’t have a problem buying it.
Tomato puree enhances the flavor of dishes it is added to and makes the dish more visually appealing. Additionally, it has several health benefits.
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Although tomato puree is readily available, it is one of those ingredients that you can easily run out of. That is exactly why you need to know the best substitutes for tomato puree.
Tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, ketchup, and tomato paste are some of the most suitable tomato puree substitutes. Alternatively, you can make your own tomato puree at home. The process is quite simple and I’ll walk you through it.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the details of suitable tomato puree substitutes.
- Tomato sauce
Tomato sauce is one of the best substitutes for tomato puree. Tomato sauce is usually processed, you may want to keep this in mind before using it as a substitute.
Tomato sauces usually have a sweet tomato flavor.
Therefore, you do not have to add anything else to enhance the flavor of your dish. All in all, you can still add a few spices to give your dish that extra kick.
The only downside with tomato sauce is that it is not as thick as tomato puree. Therefore, it may not give your dish the thickness that tomato puree gives it. If you do not mind this, you can use it as it is.
In case you are keen on adding thickness to your dish, just add some freshly cooked tomatoes. Your dish will definitely have the thickness that you want.
I suggest using tomato sauce as a substitute for tomato puree when making stews and meatballs.
The sauce will add that amazing tomato flavor to your dish.
- Canned tomatoes
Canned tomatoes are arguably the best substitute for tomato puree. The flavor and thickness of canned tomatoes is quite similar to that of tomato puree. Canned tomatoes will enhance the flavor of your dish and also thicken it.
To use canned tomatoes as a substitute for tomato puree, you will have to strain the chunks so that you get rid of the canning juice. Once done, you can directly add it to your dish.
Compared to tomato puree, canned tomatoes are less concentrated. Therefore, you may have to use more canned tomatoes in your dish to achieve that rich tomato flavor.
Substitute tomato puree with canned tomatoes in the ratio 1:2. For instance, if a recipe calls for two tablespoons of tomato puree, use four tablespoons of canned tomatoes.
Ketchup is another suitable substitute for tomato puree. If you do not have any of the other substitutes on hand, ketchup will work just fine.
While using ketchup as a tomato puree substitute, keep in mind that ketchup has a much stronger flavor compared to tomato puree.
Therefore, you may have to neutralize the strong flavor. To do this, simply add a little bit of water to the ketchup. Be careful not to add too much. Add a teaspoon at a time and taste to see whether the water has neutralized the strong taste.
Ketchup does not work well when used in cooking. I recommend using it in dishes where tomato puree is used as a base flavor.
- Tomato paste
Although tomato paste and tomato puree have different textures, you can still use tomato paste as a substitute for tomato puree. Just like tomato puree, tomato paste has a concentrated flavor which makes it a suitable substitute.
To use tomato paste as a substitute, you will need to adjust its consistency. It is actually quite simple. Just add some water to the tomato paste and stir it in to adjust the consistency.
Add little by little so that you don’t overdo it. A few teaspoons of water would suffice depending on how much tomato paste you are using. Once the tomato paste gets to a consistency similar to that of tomato puree, you can add it to your dish.
In case you want to thicken the consistency of your dish even further, you can add a few chunks of fresh tomatoes. Your dish will taste amazing.
How to make your own tomato puree at home
Making tomato puree at home is probably easier than you think. You just need a few ingredients and equipment. Here is how to make your own tomato puree at home.
You will need:
- 4 pounds of plum tomatoes or roma tomatoes
- Serrated vegetable peeler
- Chopping board
- Food processor/ Blender
- Large pot
- Freezer bags (for storage)
- The first thing you need to do is watch your tomatoes thoroughly. Use cold water to rinse them and then part them dry.
- Once they are dry, use the serrated vegetable peeler to peel the tomatoes.
- Use a sharp knife to cut the tomatoes into halves and remove any bruises or soft spots.
- Use your spoon to remove the core of the tomatoes and scrape out any pulp or seeds.
- Using your knife, chop the tomatoes.
- Place your chopped tomatoes in a large pot. Make sure that the pot has a heavy base.
- Cook the tomatoes over medium heat and bring them to a boil. Once the tomatoes boil, lower the heat and let them simmer for approximately 10 minutes or until they lose most of their liquid.
- Remove the tomatoes from heat and let them cool for 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the tomatoes to a food processor or blender. Process or blend the tomatoes until they have a smooth consistency. Your tomato puree is ready for use at this point.
- If you want to store the tomato puree for later use, transfer it into freezer bags. Store them in 15 ounce portions. Remember to press out the excess air before sealing the freezer bag. Label the bag then store it inside your freezer. Frozen tomato puree stays fresh for approximately 6 months.
What are the best tomatoes to use when making tomato puree?
Plum tomatoes are the best option when you want to make tomato puree. This is because the two varieties are usually grown for preserving. These two varieties are used to make tomato sauce, oven-dried tomatoes, and tomato paste among others.
These tomatoes don’t have to be perfect. In case they are bruised, you can use a knife to cut off the bruised part and puree the rest.
Remember to remove the core and seeds of the tomato before making the tomato puree. Processing or blending the tomatoes with seeds tens to make the tomato puree bitter.
How to properly store tomato puree
The best way to store homemade tomato puree is by freezing. Simply pour the tomato puree into a freezer bag, squeeze out the air then seal it before storing it inside the freezer.
Labeling the freezer bag is important because you will be able to tell when it is no longer safe to use. Homemade tomato puree only lasts for six months when stored in the freezer.
Tomato puree uses
Tomato puree is a common ingredient. Here are a few ways to use tomato puree.
- In pasta sauce
I always tomato puree to thicken my pasta sauces. The rich tomato flavor plus the thick consistency makes it a perfect addition to pasta sauce.
- Delicious meatballs
My meatballs always taste better when I use tomato puree. Try using it the next time you are making meatballs.
- Stews and soups
If you are like me, you like thick stews. Tomato puree gives stews and soups just the right consistency
- In cocktails
You can also use tomato puree in those refreshing cocktails.
Tomato puree is used in marinades too. It gives the marinade a rich flavor.
- In pizza sauce
Pizza sauce always tastes better when you use tomato puree.
Tomato puree is an amazing ingredient. It is one of those tomato products that you always want to have on hand.
I do not know about you, but I tend to run out of tomato puree really fast. Sometimes I do not even notice that I no longer have any in stock.
Luckily, there are good alternatives you can use. Canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and tomato sauce are my favorite tomato puree substitutes.
I occasionally use ketchup in dishes that do not require cooking but I always ensure that I use water to neutralize the strong flavor.