Difference Between Tomato Puree and Tomato Paste

Tomato puree and tomato paste are two extremely popular ingredients that are used across the world. Each of them is made from cooked and blended tomatoes. However, a puree is quite different from a paste in various aspects. A professional chef might be able to tell the difference at a single glance. A home cook, on the other hand, might be slightly confused about the two.

Tomato Puree vs Tomato Paste

The main difference between tomato puree and tomato paste is that a tomato puree has a moderately acidic taste that resembles that of fresh tomatoes, and it also has a watery consistency as compared to the latter. On the other hand, a tomato paste tastes much sweeter and has a thicker consistency.

Tomato Puree and Tomato Paste

A tomato puree is a liquid made by blending cooked tomatoes and straining them. It has a thicker consistency than a tomato sauce but is not as reduced as a tomato paste. When made at home, no additives or preservatives are mixed into it. However, when sold as a processed food product in markets, it may have both.

Meanwhile, a tomato paste is much more concentrated than a tomato puree. This is because it is cooked for a much longer period, which causes most of the water from it to evaporate. Moreover, the longer cooking time also causes the tomatoes to lose their acidic fresh taste. However, this also creates a more intense sweet umami flavour.

Comparison Table Between Tomato Puree and Tomato Paste

Parameters of ComparisonTomato PureeTomato Paste
ConsistencyIt has a watery consistency.It has a thicker consistency.
Cooking TimeIt takes lesser time to cook.It takes more time to cook.
Cooking MethodIt is cooked once, blended, and strained.It is cooked, blended, strained, and then cooked again.
TasteIt has an acidic and fresher taste.It has a sweeter umami taste.
Flavor IntensityIt lacks intensity in its flavour.It has a more intense flavour.
UsesIt is used as a base for sauces.It is used to make sauces thicker.

What is Tomato Puree?

Tomato puree has been an integral part of many cuisines across the world, especially in European food. It is a liquid that can be used as a base for various sauces. Even curries can be prepared in a convenient manner by using tomato puree.

The method of making a tomato puree is quite easy. Firstly, tomatoes need to be cooked slightly up to the point at which they do not lose their freshness. Further, these cooked tomatoes need to be blended up and strained through a sieve. This helps smoothen the liquid and remove unwanted seeds and skin.

Since the preparation method is simple, many people prefer making their own tomato purees at home. This can be done in bulk and the liquid can be stored in the freezer to be used for a longer period. In this case, the puree is free from additives and preservatives. Thus, it is much healthier and even cheaper to some extent.

However, many tomato purees are also available in markets. These are made with additives to extend their shelf life. Regardless of the place of preparation, though, a tomato puree is supposed to have an acidic and fresh taste. It must essentially be used as a substitute for fresh tomatoes. People use it to make sauces and curries smoother, rather than having seeds and chunks of skin.

What is Tomato Paste?

Tomato pastes traditionally have their roots in Sicily and Malta. Then, they were added to sauces and soups to make them thicker. Moreover, their concentrated nature added an umami intensification to food.

The method of making a tomato paste is quite similar to that of a tomato puree. However, in the first stage, the tomatoes are cooked for a much longer period up until the raw water has completely evaporated. Further, these tomatoes are blended and strained to remove seeds and skin. The resultant liquid is further reduced by cooking on a low flame.

Interestingly, in the good old days, tomato paste was made by simply spreading tomato sauce on a wooden board. This board was then kept under the hot sun for drying. This method can be used even today. By making a tomato paste at home, one can ensure that it has no additives or impurities.

Store-bought tomato pastes, however, save a cook the preparation time. They can be used conveniently without worrying about whether they have the right consistency or not. In general, tomato pastes must have a thick consistency and a sweet umami taste. On sautéing, they impart an earthy caramelized flavour to dishes of different kinds.

Main Differences Between Tomato Puree and Tomato Paste

  1. Tomato puree has a watery consistency whereas tomato paste has a thicker consistency.
  2. Tomato puree takes lesser time to cook whereas tomato paste takes more time to cook.
  3. Tomato puree is cooked once, blended, and strained whereas tomato paste is cooked, blended, strained, and then cooked again.
  4. Tomato puree has an acidic and fresher taste whereas tomato paste has a sweeter umami taste.
  5. Tomato puree lacks intensity in its flavour whereas tomato paste has a more intense flavour.
  6. Tomato puree is used as a base for sauces whereas tomato paste is used to make sauces thicker.

Conclusion

Tomato puree and tomato paste are very different from each other in many aspects. Despite being liquids made from tomatoes, they have several intricate features that set them apart.

Firstly, a tomato puree is waterier and lacks a certain intensity in its flavour. It has an acidic undertone and tastes fresher when compared to the latter. Moreover, it only needs to be cooked once, blended, and then strained. Therefore, the cooking time is lesser, and the preparation is easier.

On the other hand, a tomato paste is thicker and more condensed. It has a lot of intensity in its flavour. As compared to the former, it is sweeter and has more of an umami undertone. Further, it needs to be cooked twice, once before straining and once after it. This makes the cooking time lengthier.

References

  1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11367-019-01613-x
  2. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/jf00091a074
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