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What’s the Best Way to Make Tomato Paste?

July 18, 2012

The clock is ticking on 120 pounds of fresh, beautiful Mennonite tomatoes sitting in my kitchen. (Vegan, thank you very much!!!) I am going to process all into tomato paste for my wood-fired pizzas this winter. Problem is… I don’t want to heat up my kitchen and have my whole house smell like tomato paste for weeks to come.  Here are my options as I see them:

1.  I attempted to make a vacuum dehydration system using a stainless steel pressure cooker and a water pump.  The water pump looked at me as if to say, “Ya gotta be kidding…”  So ok, I need a powerful air pump that won’t corrode and fittings to attach to the pressure cooker in order to get a near vacuum. This is doable, I think. Anybody else tried this? I can’t find anything on the Net for a home model.

2. Then I got the bright idea of a solar dehydrator using evacuated tubes.  I have six systems sitting in my basement in old cardboard boxes, waiting for Mr. Dreamy Solar Hot Water Man to come to my rescue and install a couple of systems on my roof. He hasn’t materialized yet, so there they are-  all 120 evac tubes, tanks, and fittings gathering dust… I dragged out three systems and spent five hours trying to figure out how they go together since the directions are long gone and I wouldn’t have been able to read them anyhow as they were in Chinese. I ended up cheating by combining different metal supports until I had one bolted together. It’s standing upright and looks good. Now I just have to figure out fittings, a fan, etc.. and how to build a greenhouse to evaporate pans of tomato juice. ( This may be overkill…)

3. I thought of swiping my range’s three prong plug and running it through an opening to outdoors. I could either move my stove outside for a few days or buy an old one for a hundred bucks and hook it up outside.  When I’m done, I can sell the stove to my son.  Not a bad idea if #1 or #2 doesn’t work out. It can’t rain though for this to happen.

4. Throw all the tomatoes in the freezer as is and wait for winter. I can thaw them, run them though my grinder and let simmer in my wood-fired pizza oven in smaller batches. The moisture would go up the flue of the pizza oven. Not a bad idea but would probably not taste so great due to freezer burn.

So… what would you do if you were me? I’ve got 24 hours to make a decision. HELP!!!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Susan Munroe permalink
    August 5, 2012 3:27 pm

    p.s. For canning, I would set it on a brick base, and not depend on those legs for the kind of weight you would be dealing with.



  2. Susan Munroe permalink
    August 5, 2012 3:25 pm

    I was in a semi-local store whose “porch” is full of canning supplies, and saw a stove like this:|cam_Outdoor+Cooking_Camp+Blind+Stoves|USA&rid=20&pcrid=12987130698

    It looked really hefty and sturdy. With something like this, you could do your hot-weather canning outdoors. The one I saw didn’t have the windscreen around it, and thus would hold a large canning pot.

    Just an idea. Better late than never, I guess.



    • August 6, 2012 7:11 am

      Hey, what a great canning stove idea! The wind screen would be good for more optimal heating, but would take away from the canner space. For my paste, I’d boil it on the stove for a few hours and when it gets thick enough, I move it to the oven to finish off overnight. With this stove, I could at least reduce the water content (and the hottest, steamiest phase of evaporation) outdoors.


  3. July 19, 2012 3:26 pm

    Keep it simple: if you can get hold of an old stove (delivered), get it and start work. Take care of it and you’ve got it for next year.

    Freezing is the next choice. Coming up with a vacuum dehydration system in the time you’ve got isn’t even in the picture.



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