Tomato paste is a staple ingredient in many dishes all over the world. Not only it is easy to use, but it is also healthy and adds colour and flavour to the food.

Although the seasoning is widely used since the early 20th century, there are still many people who don’t know the difference between the paste and the sauce.

As a leading food manufacturer in the United Arab Emirates, Delta Food Industries FZC answers ten most FAQs about the tomato-based ingredient.

1. What is the Difference between Tomato Paste and Tomato Sauce?

The difference is consistency. Tomato paste is thicker and achieved by cooking tomatoes at high temperature until all water evaporates and the pulp remains. In tomato sauce, onion and pepper are sautéed in olive oil and chopped red tomatoes and water is added. The sauce is thinner and different flavours or seasonings are added.

2. How is Tomato Paste Made?

It is made from ripe tomatoes cooked in about 212 °F (100 °C) to soften the pulp and reduce the water until a thick consistency is achieved. The skin and seeds are removed. This process is called “hot-break” and the paste can be processed further into ketchup.

Another process is called “cold-break”. The tomatoes are still cooked but in lesser heat (151 °F or 66 °C) in which colour and flavour are not changed and can be processed further into juice.

3. What are the Ingredients of a Good Tomato Paste?

A high-quality paste does not have extenders or fillers and salt is only added to enhance the taste. In other extra-thick paste, starch is present as a thickener. Tomato solids should be the only ingredient that makes the mixture thick.

4. What is the Ideal Consistency of a Good Tomato Paste?

Consistency may vary according to the preference of the consumer in any country. In some countries in Africa, they prefer the extra-thick paste and of darker red colour.  However, in other countries, they prefer the vibrant red colour.

5. What is the meaning of BRIX?

Brix is a measure of dissolved solid content. Also represented as Total Soluble Solids (TSS). The paste can be made with 18-20%, 22-24%, 24-26%, and 28-30% Brix.

6. How can you Optimize the Benefits of your Tomato Paste?

You can get the most healthful benefits from the ingredient if it is cooked well in heat. When cooking a tomato-based dish, make sure to saute the paste with the spices first in order to get a richer flavour. The antioxidant Lycopene is released by cooking tomatoes at high temperature.

7. How can you Store Left-over Tomato Paste?

We don’t cook tomato-based dishes every day and when we do, we only need a tablespoon of the paste to make our food flavourful. What do we do with the left-over? Keep for future use of course. To keep the paste fresh as long as possible, transfer the paste from the can into a clean covered glass container and keep in the refrigerator.

8. Why Tomato Paste Changes Colour when Opened?

Once opened, the paste may change its colour from vibrant red to dark red. Sometimes the colour turns to black. This is due to oxidation and pH change. To prevent this from happening, immediately transfer the left-over into a dry glass container and refrigerate.

9. What is the Maximum Shelf-Life?

A good-quality tomato paste can be stored up to a maximum of two years.

10. What are the Benefits of using Tomato Paste in your Food?

This seasoning is a rich source of phytochemicals such as Lycopene. According to many studies, Lycopene is an antioxidant that stabilizes the free radicals in our system and helps in preventing certain types of cancer.

No wonder tomato paste is such a high-value product. The benefits that you get from it is more than enough reason to consider this red-coloured seasoning a regular part of your healthy diet.