Tomato Puree vs Paste: What’s the Difference?

Tomato Puree
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Tomato puree and tomato paste are usually associated with Italian cooking. You can use them in a variety of dishes. 

However, we often use the terms tomato puree and tomato paste so interchangeably that we don’t realize they’re two different things.

Obviously, they’re made of the same ingredients. However, they’re still very different in terms of consistency, taste, and the way they are prepared.

So, what is the difference between tomato puree and paste?

Tomato puree is a canned sauce made of cooked tomatoes, just like tomato paste. However, the tomato paste has a very thick texture while the puree is thinner.

They also taste different as the paste has a lightly sweet flavor whereas the puree is tangy with a subtly bitter finish.

Read on to know more! 

What is Tomato Puree?

Tomato Puree

Tomato puree, also known as crushed tomatoes, is a thick sauce of pureed or cooked tomatoes without the seeds and skin. There are no added spices or preservatives in the puree usually. 

It is one of the best ways to store tomatoes in their raw form if they’re not available in your area during the whole time. Moreover, it has a shelf life of about 12-15 days in the fridge and 3-4 months in the freezer.

So, if you have a bulk of tomatoes and have no idea what to do with them, just puree them and freeze them in ice trays. Then, use those iced tomato puree cubes whenever you need them. 

What is Tomato Paste?

Tomato Paste

A tomato paste is a highly concentrated and thick paste made by cooking tomatoes for several hours to reduce its water content.

Basically, if you take a handful of tomatoes, cook them, strain the skin and seeds from the mixture and cook it until it has a thick consistency, you get a tomato paste.

Tomato pastes are also created using stabilizers such as citric acid, salt, herbs, and spices. They are also available in double and triple concentrated options. You can find them available in tubes as well.

You can use tomato paste in a variety of dishes.

Hence, if you want to have a hot creamy tomato soup, a tomato paste is just the right option for you. It will add a rich texture and flavor to it. 

Tomato Puree vs Paste: Comparison Chart

The comparison table below gives a quick summary of the differences between tomato puree and paste. 

Category  Tomato Puree Tomato Paste 
Consistency More liquidized version A thicker concentration of tomatoes
Method of Cooking Lightly cooked for a short time and pips removed Cooked slowly for an extended period
Flavors 8-23% NTSC  24% NTSS- hence a stronger tomato flavor 
Freezing and Storage The best way to store it is to put it in zip-lock plastic bags and freezing it The best way to store is to add it to baking sheets and freezing them
Uses Used for savory flavoring dishes and can have spices and flavors added Perfect consistency to spread the paste on pizza and other suitable dishes 

Tomato Puree vs Paste: Key Differences

Tomato puree and tomato paste may look the same, share the same ingredients, and have the same initial names.

However, they are two different products due to the method of cooking and preparation. Here we have explained the difference between the two in greater detail.

Consistency

Tomato paste has a thicker concentration of tomato as compared to a puree. A puree is a more liquidized version of tomatoes.

The two of them have different consistencies because the puree is liquid and difficult to spread. The paste, on the other hand, enhanced the flavor of whatever food you add it to, because of its concentration and texture. 

Cooking method

To make tomato paste, you need to simmer it for longer. Moreover, you need to remove the pips, and the paste is left to cook till it reaches a thick consistency.

Whereas you need to cook tomato puree lightly for a shorter period, and then, remove the pips. This way, it results in a more liquid type of tomato paste.

You can convert a tomato paste into a tomato puree by adding water to the paste. 

Flavors

Both tomato paste and puree have a tomato flavor, just like you would imagine. However, the paste has a more robust flavor and does not have other flavors or spices added to it.

The natural soluble solids (NTSS) content of the two is also different.

The puree has 8-23% NTSS, while tomato paste has 24% NTSS. However, the puree can differ in the intensity of NTSS volume depending on the amount of liquid added to it. 

Freezing and storage

The best way to store tomato paste is by freezing it.

What you need to do is scoop blobs of paste onto a baking sheet and freeze them. When these blobs are frozen, you can easily store them in containers. Then, you can use a blob or two to add tomato flavor to your meal.

You can also store the tomato puree by the method of freezing.

I suggest that you store it in zip-lock plastic bags and keep them in the freezer. A bag that holds 80 oz to 15 oz is a considerable one. 

Uses

Tomato paste is usually used to thicken sauces because of its thick consistency and to add intense flavors to soups and stews.

On the other hand, tomato puree is mainly used to form bases of thinner tomato-based sauces. You can also use it in salsas, hot sauce, and pizza sauce.

Can You Substitute Tomato Paste for Tomato Puree?

Tomato Paste

Tomato puree is a very useful ingredient, but don’t panic if you need to use it, and it’s not there in your pantry. You can turn your tomato paste into a puree very easily.

As already mentioned above, tomato puree is a more liquidized version of tomato paste.

You will need to combine ⅓ cup of tomato paste with ⅔ cup of water and mix them well. The mixture you will get will not be any different from your regular puree. 

Related Questions

What is the difference between tomato puree and tomato sauce?

Tomato sauce is very similar to tomato puree in the consistency but thinner.

The sauce is made with tomato puree, but some spices and seasonings are sometimes added to it to make it more flavourful, like garlic, onion, etc. They have a similar flavor, however, the sauce will have some additional flavors to enhance its taste. 

So, you can easily replace the sauce with puree. Add ½ cup water with a cup of tomato puree and put a dash of salt and sugar on it. This mix can be used to replace ½ cup tomato sauce.   

Can I use tomato paste instead of puree?

Yes, you can use tomato paste instead of puree.

Generally speaking, the puree is nothing but a diluted, liquid version of a tomato paste. Just add a few cups of water to the tomato paste, and you can use it in place of puree. 

What can I use if I don’t have tomato puree?

Here are a few things that you can use in place of tomato puree:

  • Tomato paste and water
  • Tomato sauce
  • Marinara sauce or pizza sauce
How do I substitute tomato puree for tomato sauce?

Tomato sauce and tomato puree are both made up of strained tomatoes cooked for some time. Hence they are very similar products.

The only difference between the two is that the puree is a little thicker than the sauce and does not have other spices added. So, if you want to use a puree instead of tomato sauce, just try to add in some salt, pepper, and a bit of sugar.

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