Tomato paste is widely used in Italian dishes. It is used to inexpensively thicken, color, and enrich the flavor of tomato sauces and other semi-liquids such as soups and stews. Be careful not to add too much, which can result in an overpowering tomato flavor or give the sauce too much of an acidic edge.
Tomato paste is sold in cans and tubes. I find that the no-fuss tubes of tomato paste are more convenient than the cans. Check the labels of cans and tubes to make sure that the only ingredient is tomatoes. If seeking especially intense flavor, shop at Italian delis or other specialty stores for imported double-strength tomato concentrate. While tomato paste is almost universally commercially produced now, for years tomato paste was made in homes in Italy and other Mediterranean countries.
To make tomato paste, the tomatoes are first cooked for several hours to reduce moisture, are strained to remove the seeds and skin, and then are cooked further to reduce them to a thick, rich concentrate. Below are a few of the many different brands of tomato paste (cans and tubes) sold in the market place.
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